Thursday, September 15, 2011

(Audio) Book Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

From the guy who brought you "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" comes "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".

I haven't read P&P&Z because I'm not a Jane Austin fan, but I like the idea of it more than the other classics with monsters books that followed it. P&P&Z was the original story modified. The later books kept the tone and characters of the original but changed the stories. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" seems to me to be more like P&P&Z in that he tried to keep true to Lincoln's life while giving him a life long grudge against vampires.

The author claims that he was given a stack of journals that Abe Lincoln kept separate from his regular diary. These books were reserved for his notes about hunting vampires. The author was asked to read them and write a Lincoln biography based on the contents.

I'm no Lincoln historian. I have the broad strokes of his life, but that's about it. I can't tell for sure how much of the story is fact and how much is fiction. A few bits I had to look up. One example is Lincoln talking to General McClellan who, in the beginning of the war, even managed to screw up victories. Abe asked "If you are not using the army, might I borrow it?".

Much of the early part of the book seems to be more about his parents than about Abe. They moved around a good deal because Abe's father apparently didn't understand the laws about land ownership. They'd settle on some land, farm it for awhile, then get booted off when the real property owner found out they were there. When they finally got some land in Illinois Abe's father took out a loan to get a horse, plow, and seed. But a bad season meant he couldn't pay it back right away. But the guy he borrowed the money from turned out to be a vampire. As punishment for defaulting on the loan he poisoned Abe's mother with just enough vampire blood to kill her, but not enough to turn her. Once Abe knew what happened that vampire became his first kill.

While hunting his second vampire Abe's life was saved by a third. This third trained him and started sending him the names and locations of vampires that really deserved to die. Abe's life goes on much the way I suspect that it really did. Him traveling the country taking a variety of odd jobs that allowed him pass near the homes of various vampires, introducing him to the horrors of slavery, and seeing how closely the two were related.

The Civil War, it turned out, wasn't just a war to end slavery. It was also a war between extra evil vampires that wanted to enslave all humans and use them like cattle and the moderately evil vampires who just wanted to exist. But it was a war that the humans had to win themselves.

One of the few battles that it mentions took place here in Washington, DC. I've written about that particular battle for the Walter Reed history book we put out. Confederate solders had set up camp on what later became Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The exact site later became a school and then a research building with a small nuclear reactor in it. Union soldiers were at Ft Stevens not even a mile south. You have to remember that during the Civil War battles were fought in such a way that, if there was enough notice, people could come out in their Sunday finest with picnic lunch and watch the battle. At Gettysburg there was even a huge camera on a horse drawn wagon that was being hauled all over the battlefield. But at the Battle of Fort Stevens Lincoln came up to the fort to watch and became the first and only standing President to come under enemy fire.

It's not an exciting book, but it was interesting listening to how the author incorporated this story into Abe's life. And it's a good story even if you don't know who Abe Lincoln was. Although, I'll admit, if you don't know who Jefferson Davis was his brief appearance seems a bit out of place.

I'd recommend this book to most people. Adults will see what they learned in school brought to life and made more interesting and better explained. Kids, having heard this, will absorb what they learn in school better because it ties into a story. Even cutting out the parts about vampires, people of all ages will wonder how much of the story is true and how much is made up. Whether that interest will lead them to reading a proper Lincoln biography is another question.

The audio version is reasonably priced and well read.

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