Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lincoln Fans are "Just Nutty"

The TU's Paul Grondahl writes about David W. Blight's current project, a new biography of Frederick Douglass based on newly discovered sources, as well as Blight's opinion of people who are obsessed with Abraham Lincoln. Blight visit Albany tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. at the State Museum.

[Blight] is currently immersed in writing a biography of Frederick Douglass, scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013, a subject he has been researching since his doctoral dissertation 23 years ago.

"You have to make a subject an obsession to write seriously about it, although I have moments I'd like to get Frederick Douglass out of my life," Blight said. What spurred him to sign a book contract for a biography of the abolitionist, orator and writer was his discovery three years ago of nine personal scrapbooks kept by Douglass' sons, mostly newspaper clippings that documented the final 35 years of the life of their father, who died in 1895. The scrapbooks are owned by a collector in Savannah, Ga., who made them available to Blight.

"I figured if there can be more than 11,000 books on Lincoln, I can write the fifth or sixth biography of Douglass," Blight said.

He added, "I've only written essays on Lincoln, but I've encountered a lot of Lincoln people and their obsession is crazy. They need a shrink. They're just nutty."

More in the Times Union: