Revealing Anecdotes On The Character Of Abraham Lincoln

We have earlier stated that anecdotes often reveal more about a man’s thinking and character than might a long recounting of his deeds.  About Abraham Lincoln many stories have been told, some no doubt apocryphal, others not.  I will present here a few true anecdotes that most readers are not likely to be familiar with; they shed revelatory light on Lincoln’s character, and how his leadership gifts were powerful in their own understated way.

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The Wisdom Of Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149–1210) was a Persian theologian and philosopher whose fecundity was only surpassed by his depth of understanding of various disciplines.  He is credited with over one hundred works, although it is likely that this number was considerably higher.  Learned in astronomy, philosophy, theology, chemistry, and a variety of other subjects, he was also said to have been a man of great humanity and understanding.  His inclinations were rationalist and scientific; for this reason he found more to his liking in the natural sciences than in airy theological speculations.

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Scott Joplin: A Musical Visionary

Those who have seen the classic movie The Sting (1974) may be aware that the film’s ragtime score set off a revival of interest in the music of Scott Joplin.  Despite the incongruity with the setting of the movie (The Sting is set in the Depression of the 1930s, while ragtime is music of the 1890s), ragtime works brilliantly as a score to the film.  Its free-wheeling, optimistic, and tightly calibrated sound fits perfectly with the themes and tone of the film.  Joplin himself was a fascinating figure, a brilliant visionary who does not fit neatly into any standard classification system.

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The Search For The Real Anwar Sadat

Immediately after he was assassinated in 1981, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was canonized by the Western media.  He was portrayed as a brave crusader for peace who had taken bold steps to overcome his people’s alleged resistance to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.  By single-handedly flying to the Israeli Knesset and embracing Menachem Begin, he had broken down years of psychological barriers and secured his place in history as a statesman of unblemished stature.  Sadat, we have been told, was a man “ahead of his time” whose bold vision was overcome by the fanaticism of the “extremists” who cut him down in his prime.

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The Life And Work Of Horror Writer H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft is now recognized as perhaps the most influential horror writer of the twentieth century.  Yet this recognition was a long time in coming.  During his life he labored away in near complete obscurity, his work appearing only in obscure pulp horror magazines, to be consumed by only the most ardent fans of the genre.  His death at the age of 46 was nearly unnoticed; but his devoted fans kept alive the spirit of his works, and he would eventually be recognized as a titan of horror.

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Linnaeus And The Art Of Classification

One of the great names of eighteenth century science is the botanist Carl von Linné, more commonly known as Carl Linnaeus.  His primary importance to history lies in his innovative classification system for living organisms.  Before him, there was a chaos of competing names and terms for the swelling corpus of knowledge about plants and animals; after him, there was something approaching order.

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Wise Sayings Of The Poet Al-Tihami

The Arabic poet Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Tihami (? – 1025) is said to have taken the name Tihami in one of two possible ways that may hint at his family’s origins, according to our trusted chronicler Ibn Khallikan.  Tihami was used both as an informal name for the city of Mecca, and as a name for the mountains between the Hijaz and Yemen.  But it is not clear which of these geographic references apply to our poet.

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