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Harold Holzer
Lincoln President-Elect:  Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861
Simon & Schuster, 2008
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by Charlie Finch

Before the opening of the Metropolitan Museum's "Cast in Bronze" exhibition a week or so ago, the Met's Vice-President for Public Affairs, Harold Holzer, dropped in to the Yale Club Library to deliver a lecture on Abraham Lincoln to a standing-room-only audience. The author or editor of 30 books on Lincoln, Holzer was appointed the co-chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission by President Bill Clinton and awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. Also recipient of the highest award for Lincoln scholarship, the Lincoln Medal, Holzer is justifiably proud of his achievements. "I went to the Capitol Rotunda last week," he told his Yale audience, "to celebrate officially the Lincoln Bicentennial, but first I stopped into Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to make sure that the $50 million for the arts in the stimulus bill wasn't dropped. I succeeded." Holzer went on to say that his prepared remarks for the occasion dealt with President Lincoln's determination to complete the Capitol Rotunda's construction while he was in office, despite a shortage of iron, which was needed for Union weapons, "but President Obama spoke first and pretty much said everything I was going to say, so I had to wing it!"