Abraham Lincoln had a lifelong fascination with science and technology, a fascination that would help institutionalize science, win the Civil War, and propel the nation into the modern age. Readers will learn through Lincoln: The Fire of Genius how science and technology gradually infiltrated Lincoln’s remarkable life and influenced his growing desire to improve the condition of all men. The book traces this progression from a simple farm boy to a president who changed the world.
Counter to conventional wisdom, subsistence farming provides a considerable education in agronomic science, forest ecology, hydrology, and even a little civil engineering. Continuing through a lifetime of self-study, curiosity, and hard work, Lincoln became the only President with a patent, advocated for technological advancement as a legislator in Illinois and in Washington, and became the “go-to” western lawyer on technology, and patent cases during his legal career. During the Civil War, Lincoln drew upon his commitment to science and personally encouraged inventors while taking dramatic steps to institutionalize science via the Smithsonian Institution, create the National Academy of Sciences, and initiate the Department of Agriculture. Lincoln’s insistence on high-tech weaponry, balloon surveillance, strategic use of telegraphy, and railroad deployment positioned the North to achieve Union victory.
David J. Kent is an award-winning scientist, an accomplished Abraham Lincoln historian, and a successful multi-book author. He has over 35 years of experience in scientific research, consulting, and writing, plus a lifetime of Lincoln studies. David is currently President of the Lincoln Group of DC, Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, and a member of the Lincoln Forum Board of Advisors. He has previously served as president of three different scientific organizations.
Lincoln: The Fire of Genius is his sixth book. Previous books include Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World. His writing has also been published in Civil War Times, The Lincolnian, Writer's Digest, Lincoln Herald, The Lincoln Forum Bulletin, Smithsonian's Civil War Studies newsletter, Tesla Magazine, and other outlets. His website is http://www.davidjkent-writer.com/.
“David J. Kent, a man of science and of history, has skillfully combined his knowledge of both to write a masterful treatise on Lincoln’s scientific mind. His book fills an important gap overlooked by most Lincoln biographers. Historians have grappled with trying to understand Lincoln’s superior intellectual and analytical powers. Kent provides an answer in this engaging book. This is fascinating reading and long overdue.”--Edward Steers, Jr., author of Blood on the Moon and Getting Right with Lincoln.
“David J. Kent has melded deep research, genuine expertise, and a fine way with an anecdote to produce a study that fills a long-missing niche in the Lincoln literature.”--Harold Holzer, winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize
“The man known as the Great Emancipator and Savior of the Union was also, as David Kent’s illuminating study shows, a science geek, amateur astronomy buff, patent holder, science lecturer, and Modernizer in Chief.”--Michael Burlingame, Ph.D., author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life and The Black Man’s President
“This is the first in-depth study of Abraham Lincoln’s interest in technology and science and how that interest impacted his life and his Presidency. As Kent demonstrates, Lincoln was a catalyst for some of that transformation wrought by science and technology.”--Marc Rothenberg, Ph.D., Editor, The Papers of Joseph Henry, and past Historian, National Academy of Sciences
“David J. Kent’s invaluable history shows us how Lincoln’s fire of genius fused science and statesmanship to create a ‘new birth of freedom.’”--Sidney Blumenthal, author of three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling with His Angel, and All the Powers of Earth.
“Lincoln's establishment of the National Academy of Sciences alone is a story no one today should miss. Overall, this book is a thrill to read.”--James M. Cornelius, Ph.D., Editor, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association
“In an era when science and technology have come under attack, Kent's volume is a very sobering reminder how crucial they were not only to Lincoln but to the country's well-being then, as well as now.”--Jason H. Silverman, Ph.D., Ellison Capers Palmer Jr Professor of History Emeritus, Winthrop University; Book Review Editor, The Lincoln Herald
“Lincoln: The Fire of Genius is a unique exploration of Lincoln’s intellectual foundations, and an essential book to read to understand the entirety of our greatest president.”—Jason Emerson, author of Lincoln the Inventor and Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln