I’ve been toying with the idea of reading the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter since I first heard of the movie earlier this year. Unlike my coworker, who thought that it was horrible and disrespectful, I thought it sounded like an intriguing concept. I wondered how the author would make the connection between one of our nation’s greatest presidents and vampires.
“I got the idea before I wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, actually. … It was leading up to the centennial of Lincoln’s birth – he was born in 1809. I would go into bookstores, and I would notice, you know, it seemed like … every aspect of Lincoln’s life seemed to be covered from week to week in some new hardcover book. And then the other new book I would see every week was some kind of Twilight wannabe … It just struck me that every book in the front of bookstores was either about Abraham Lincoln or about vampires. It was just that thought that sort of led to, you know, what if one is our chocolate and one is our peanut butter and they taste delicious together?”
I love the fact that this strange little coincidence that Grahame-Smith noticed led to this book, and I’m happy it did.
Now, I was warned away from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a while ago by several English majors in one of my graduate school classes. As I love Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, I was ready to accept their critiques and never even looked at this book. I was told back in June, however, by an acquaintance that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was actually a very well-written book. So I decided to listen to the audio book.
I was impressed with the way Grahame-Smith weaved vampires in and out of the story of Lincoln’s life. The research Grahame-Smith had to do in order to complete this work was evident in the writing. It was as much of, if not more than, an undertaking as a true biography of Lincoln would have been. I wonder how that process exactly was, if he took a couple biographies and read them through, making little notes of “this person could have been a vampire” or “this trip was because of a vampire.” It was remarkable, in my way of thinking, how he basically created the idea of vampires being behind the Civil War, because blacks – as slaves – were an easy source of “food.” Thus another reason for Lincoln to want to end slavery.
I won’t give anything else away, but suffice it to say that I was impressed. I liked listening to parts of Lincoln’s life that I recognized from my own reading and documentary-watching, either from a history class or for my own amusement. To hear this twist on these events in a way that makes perfect sense (if vampires were actually real) ended up being really fun and enjoyable.
On a side note about why Grahame-Smith enjoyed writing this book, I also like this quote from CBS News’ interview with Grahame-Smith: ”I think that Abraham Lincoln, the real man, was, in a lot of ways, the only American superhero,” Grahame-Smith said. “It’s the ultimate sort of American dream story. No education, no money, no family name. And yet, he’s able to pull himself up and, not only become the president of the United States, but then unite the United States.”
Description: “Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”
“My baby boy…” she whispers before dying.
Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.
When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.
While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.
Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.”