Sunday, April 15, 2012

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010) Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is a 2010 novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, released on March 2, 2010.[1]

Plot summary

The epistolary-style book is written as a biography of Abraham Lincoln, based on "secret diaries" kept by the 16th President and given to the author by a vampire named Henry Sturges.

When Lincoln is eleven years old, he learns from his father Thomas Lincoln that vampires are in fact real creatures. Thomas explains to his son that a vampire killed Abraham's grandfather (also named Abraham Lincoln) in 1786. Young Abraham is also shocked to learn that his beloved mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln succumbed not to milk sickness but rather to being given a "fool's dose" of vampire blood, the result of Thomas's failure to repay a debt. Lincoln vows in his diary to kill as many vampires as he can. A year later he lures the vampire responsible for his mother's death to the family farm and manages to kill it with a homemade stake.

At the age of sixteen Lincoln gets word of a possible vampire attack along the Ohio River and investigates, but this time he is no match for the vampire and is nearly killed. He is saved at the last moment by the intervention of the vampire Henry Sturges. Henry nurses Lincoln back to health and explains some of the nature of vampirism, emphasizing that some vampires are good and others are evil. Lincoln spends the summer with Henry and trains for combat, becoming a skilled wrestler and axe-handler. For several years following, Henry sends Lincoln the names and addresses of evil vampires; Abraham dutifully tracks them down and kills them.

As a young adult Lincoln and a friend travel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans on a flatboat to sell a number of goods. Here Lincoln's life is changed forever after he witnesses a slave auction. Lincoln follows a slave buyer and his new slaves back to their plantation and discovers to his horror that the buyer is a vampire - the slaves are to be used not for labor but for food. Lincoln writes in his diary his belief that vampires will continue to exist in America as long as they can easily buy their victims in this manner - to end slavery is to end the scourge of vampires. Lincoln becomes an Abolitionist.

Lincoln returns to his home in New Salem and begins his business and political careers by day, continuing to track down the vampires in Henry's letters at night. His life is once again tinged by tragedy when his lover Ann Rutledge is attacked and murdered by her ex-fiance John McNamar, now a vampire living in New York City. With Henry's help, Lincoln catches McNamar and kills him, but he decides to give up vampire hunting and instead concentrate on his daytime pursuits. He marries Mary Todd, begins to raise a family, starts a law firm, and is elected to a term in the United States House of Representatives.

While in Washington, Lincoln meets his old friend Edgar Allan Poe, who also knows the truth about vampires. Poe tells Lincoln that the vampires are being chased out of their ancestral homes in Europe (in part because of a public outcry over the bloody atrocities of Elizabeth Báthory) and are flocking to America because of the slave trade. Poe warns that if the vampires are left unchecked they will eventually seek to enslave all Americans, white and black. Lincoln leaves Washington in 1849 and declines to seek re-election; Poe is found murdered that same year in Baltimore, the victim of a vampire attack.

In 1857 Henry summons Lincoln to New York City. Here Lincoln and fellow vampire slayer William Seward are told that the vampires in the South intend to start a civil war so that they can conquer the north and enslave everyone. Lincoln is ordered to debate Stephen A. Douglas in what become known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Although Lincoln loses to Douglas (an ally of the Southern vampires), he gains a great deal of publicity and respect, which allows him to capture the Republican Party nomination for president and then the office itself.

Lincoln's election triggers the secession of the southern states and the start of the American Civil War. Early battles, such as the First Battle of Bull Run go poorly for the Union troops after they are attacked by Confederate vampires. Lincoln decides that the best way to defeat the vampires is to eliminate their food source and starve them out — to that end, he announces the Emancipation Proclamation and encourages the slaves to fight back against slave owners and vampires alike. This begins to turn the tide of the war.

However, the war takes a personal toll on Lincoln. A vampire assassin sneaks onto the White House lawn and kills Willie Lincoln, the President's 11-year-old son. Henry appears at the White House and offers to turn Willie into a vampire so that he will "live" again, but Lincoln is unwilling to allow it. Enraged, he banishes Henry and all other vampires from the White House and refuses to speak to any of them ever again.

The war ends with the South's defeat. Lincoln receives reports that the vampires in the South are fleeing to Asia and South America in the wake of the slave system's collapse. Happy for the first time in many years, he attends a play at Ford's Theater, only to be assassinated by the actor and vampire John Wilkes Booth. Booth expects the vampires to rally around President Lincoln's death, but instead finds himself shunned and hiding in a Virginia barn as Union troops arrive to arrest him. Henry arrives and confronts Booth inside the burning barn; it is implied that Henry is the one who kills Booth.

Lincoln's death is mourned by the nation. His body is brought by a funeral train back to Springfield, Illinois, where Henry stands guard.

The biography concludes with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Both Abraham Lincoln and Henry Sturges attend and Lincoln writes about spending the previous night at the White House. Henry has used his powers to turn Lincoln into a vampire, believing that "some men are just too interesting to die."


The Los Angeles Times gave Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter a positive review, noting that "a writer who can transform the greatest figure from 19th century American history into the star of an original vampire tale with humor, heart and bite is a rare find indeed."[2]

Time Magazine gave the novel a mixed review, calling author Grahame-Smith "a lively, fluent writer with a sharp sense of tone and pace," but finding the novel "a little too neat" and noting that "Once the connection is made, it feels obvious, and neither slavery nor vampirism reveals anything in particular about the other. One could imagine a richer, subtler treatment of the subject, in which the two horrors multiply each other rather than cancel each other out."[3]

Entertainment Weekly gave the novel a rating of "C+" and called it "a trivial book, clinging to a fad past its prime — a labored send-up that refracts the life story of one of the most important, famous, and minutely analyzed figures in all of American history through a cockeyed and ultimately foolish lens."[4]

On 16 March 2010, the book debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list under the category "Hardcover Fiction," [5] dropping to #15 in its seventh week on the list.[6]

Film adaptation

In March 2010 it was announced that Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (producers of 9) are currently working on the live action adaptation of this novel in conjuction with Twentieth Century Fox for a possible 2012 release.[7] Grahame-Smith himself will write the screenplay of the film adaptation.[8] 20th Century Fox has announced a June 22, 2012 release date for the film[9]; it will be the third time that Burton will do a film for 20th Century Fox after Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Planet of the Apes (2001)


1.^ Seth Grahame-Smiths neues Werk “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
2.^ Mcintyre, Gina (2010-03-04). "BOOK REVIEWS Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter". The Los Angeles Times.
3.^ Grossman, Lev (2010-03-08). "Critique of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". Time.
4.^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (2010-02-24). "BOOK REVIEW Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter".
5.^ "Best Sellers". The New York Times. 2010-03-16. 6.^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". New York Times. April 23, 2010. 7.^ Tim Burton and 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'
8.^ Who is Penning 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'?
9.^ "Abraham Lincoln to Hunt Vampires in 2012". October 29, 2010.

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserved the Union, and ended slavery. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, he was mostly self-educated. He became a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives, but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate. He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband, and father of four children.

Lincoln was an outspoken opponent of the expansion of slavery in the United States, which he deftly articulated in his campaign debates and speeches. As a result, he secured the Republican nomination and was elected president in 1860. As president he concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war effort, always seeking to reunify the nation after the secession of the eleven Confederate States of America. He vigorously exercised unprecedented war powers, including the arrest and detention, without trial, of thousands of suspected secessionists. He issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery.

Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including Ulysses S. Grant. He brought leaders of various factions of both parties into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. He defused a confrontation with Britain in the Trent affair late in 1861. Under his leadership, the Union took control of the border slave states at the start of the war and tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another, until finally Grant succeeded in 1865. A shrewd politician deeply involved with patronage and power issues in each state, he managed his own re-election in the 1864 presidential election.

As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln came under attack from all sides. Radical Republicans wanted harsher treatment of the South, Democrats desired more compromise, and secessionists saw him as their enemy. Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory; for example, his Gettysburg Address of 1863 became one of the most quoted speeches in history. It was an iconic statement of America's dedication to the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. Just six days after the decisive surrender of the commanding general of the Confederate army, Lincoln fell victim to an assassin — the first President to suffer such a fate. Lincoln has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

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