The Tyranny of Public Discourse:

      September 1, 2019

Congratulations on the latest addition to your Lincoln series!  We desperately need people with Lincoln's rigorous logic, his deep wisdom, his gifts as a communicator, and his generosity of spirit. Your book will help ordinary citizens to acquire at least some of these skills. We need to get back to basics—trying to communicate with one another face-to-face. Including people who might disagree with us.

William T. Gormley, Jr.
University Professor
Professor of Public Policy & Government
Co-Director, Center for Research on Children in the U.S. (CROCUS)
McCourt School of Public Policy
305 Old North
Georgetown University


Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason:
"No one has examined Euclidian logic alongside Lincoln's rhetorical and written construction as thoroughly as Mssrs. Hirsch and Van Haften, and the results are startling. We continue to shed our shopworn image of Lincoln as a low-gear country lawyer as we learn more about his cases, and now with this study we see a wholly new angle of his brilliance -- which nevertheless must keep us wondering, How did Lincoln do it? Picking apart his Cooper Institute speech for its inner structure, for example, they reveal how deeply Lincoln had imbibed the classical principles of organization, and how it made him the lawyer and politician he was. Hirsch and Van Haften also offer a guidebook not just for attorneys bent on the same self-improvement, but the simple tools for anyone to do as Lincoln did: learn how to learn, and then demonstrate the rightness of your position."
- James M. Cornelius,
Curator, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Civil War Bookshelf (blog) Dimitri Rotov's edgy and interesting blog has good things to say about Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason: "David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften an attorney and mathematician respectively, propose with force and conviction that Euclid provided a rhetorical framework in which Lincoln operated. The analysis is concrete and impressive and the authors present diagrammatic (and tabular) evidence of the origins of Lincoln's powers of discourse. Their book, Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason thus adds something new to Lincoln studies."

" . . . [T]his beautifully written, elegant work by Hirsch and Van Haften is something like a 1940s Borzoi book, not only in quality and treatment but in terms of the point at which it stands historiographically."

"This is an excellent book with great notes, full bi[bli]ography and a fine style. Given the time, I'll post a review of it on its own terms and in its own context. It deserves no less . . . "


Midwest Book Review (under category of "Reviewers Choice"):

"Abraham Lincoln was beyond his time with his writing ability and way with words. Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason is an analysis of the question, what made Lincoln great? A true orator, Lincoln's work has a certain quality that is hard to explain. David Hirsch & Dan Van Haften seek to use classical analysis and rhetoric to understand Lincoln's work and gain a greater understanding of what makes a good speaker. Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason is an excellent addition to any philosophy or historical studies collection, highly recommended."


Bull Runnings (blog -interview) Harry Smeltzer's last question:

BR:  What’s next for you?

DH/DVH:  There is an endless series of topics to carry forward with the discoveries in Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason. If we find time, we will not run out of topics.

The interviewer, Harry Smeltzer, then comments, "I’m not sure how David and Dan, alone or together, are going to top this effort, but if Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason is any indication, whatever they come up with should be unique."


"A brilliant study. . . . The authors conclusively demonstrate how the self-taught Lincoln mastered Euclidean Geometry and used Euclid's elements in his most famous speeches, including the Gettysburg Address and the Cooper Union Address. Understanding geometry helped organize Lincoln's mind, his writing, and his political skills. To David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften, all students of Abraham Lincoln and our democracy are indebted."

- Frank J. Williams,
Chair, The Lincoln Forum, and Retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island

"Congratulations on a super book! ... [Reading your book] was a genuine pleasure!  Your insights into Lincoln the public speaker are fresh and original.  Most of us knew that Lincoln was a great wordsmith. Few of us grasped that the key to Lincoln’s greatness was not how he assembled words but how he assembled paragraphs.  It was the Euclidean scaffolding that gave his speeches the logical force that made them so impressive.

"In many respects, your book is an admirable piece of social science, and not just history.  Like good social scientists, you ... begin with a hypothesis (or proposition), you then assemble some evidence, you connect the dots, and you reach a conclusion that flows from what preceded it.

"Your book is instructive in yet another way -- it reveals a great deal about the inner workings of the legal profession, the legal process, and the legal mind.  Some good insights into legal ethics too. I can imagine your book being of considerable interest to law professors and aspiring lawyers.

"Although your book focuses on Lincoln, you do a nice job of drawing lessons for the 21st century, with your 'Lincoln to Now' sections at the end of each chapter. This is a great way to help the reader draw some lessons for modern politics and modern times.

"So, I’m an unabashed admirer of what you ... have accomplished here.  Your book is a real tour de force!  Especially impressive in a field that is already quite crowded, with thousands of books and articles already in print. ...

"Once again, my compliments to you ...  I GREATLY enjoyed your book!"

-William T. Gormley, Jr.
Professor of Government and Public Policy
Georgetown Public Policy Institute
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.

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