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Monday, October 30, 2006

Skim-Reading Through the Ages

You might be interested in an excerpt from my forthcoming book: Once Lightly Over: An Illustrated History of Skim-Reading Through the Ages:

‘…skim-reading became a crucial part of Lincoln’s time-management strategy during the latter part of the Civil War. His two private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, began competing for his attention by bringing him ever more documents to read and sign. It was only Lincoln’s chronic unwillingness to read anything ‘properly’ that kept his Presidency and the Union afloat.

It was John Hay, his usual speech-writer, who wrote for Lincoln a seven-hour 400-page epic which began ‘War is a really, really dreadful thing, I pray you avoid it’ for presentation at Gettysburg. Lincoln skimmed the document over his customary macchiato at Jenny’s Coffee Shop. Doodling on a napkin, he quickly reduced the speech to the following (now historically sanitized) words:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. yadda yadda

Now we are engaged blah blah blah in a great civil war… [etc]


Order your copy now and learn how Churchill balanced depression, a fondness for Gray's Anatomy and 48 different plans for D-Day by having an assistant read out 'the interesting bits'!

2 comments:

Zoe said...

So are you who I think you are? Or are you coming the raw prawn?

elsewhere said...

It is him, Zoe.