A timely echo of Lincoln’s voice—to remind us of what Americans, at their best, aspire to be.
Richard S. Slotkin, author of Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln
Since its beginning, radio has offered a warm medium for connecting the heart, the head, and the imagination. This delightful collection of Lincoln’s wisdom was seeded in a creative radio show, Quiet Fire. It has morphed into a daily companion for readers who connect the dots between time and space to map a new understanding of the chaotic times in which we live. Lincoln’s words resonate more urgently than ever, and Duncan has played alchemist in Quiet Fire to one of our country’s greatest souls and distilled an essence that can guide and comfort us.
Sally Kane, CEO, National Federation of Community Broadcasters.
This book is full of surprise and insight, head-scratching thoughts and images that will linger in your mind beyond the thirty days. In each of the Thirty Days with Abraham Lincoln, Duncan Newcomer humbly asks his readers to contemplate a great thought from a great man, to sit staring into a Quiet Fire. Between Lincoln’s wisdom and Newcomer’s insights the reader will wish the month had many more days.
Brian “Fox” Ellis, author, storyteller and historical re-enactor who portrays seven ‘Friends of Lincoln’
As Lincoln himself did, these words cast a healing and inspiriting spell. In a time when we have all but forgotten what a leader is—what a hero is—Duncan Newcomer’s stories help restore to us a wise and compassionate leader. Listen to these 30 reflections one at a time, read them, or listen and read all at once. They will change your life in a subtle way, quiet you, restore calm and wisdom. But they will change you.
The Rev. Dr. Eileen Sypher, Emeritus Professor of English at George Mason University
Abraham Lincoln spoke with deep spiritual values to a House Divided, a nation at war within itself. As Duncan Newcomer reminds us: “Lincoln became a prophet who cried out for a balance that could keep our house from dividing—that could keep our nation from collapsing.” Once again, we are a nation at war within ourselves regarding what it means to be an American and questioning our most important founding values. “Abraham Lincoln is America’s Great Soul” writes Newcomer. “To this day, Lincoln’s spirit soars far beyond the boundaries of the United States to inspire men and women around the world.” Thirty Days with Abraham Lincoln—Quiet Fire is a powerful and important book that takes us to the heart and soul of that spirit and inspires us to reclaim the values essential for putting our house in order once again.
Dr. John Oliver Wilson, author of The Idea of America: Our Values, Our Legacy, Our Future and Founder-Director of the Idea of America Network for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
These are elegant, meditative reflections inspired by America’s most admired president. Duncan Newcomer’s Lincoln still transcends transactional politics and regularly reminds us, by his example and words, of America’s higher aspirations.
Thomas E. Cronin, President Emeritus of Whitman College and author of Imagining A Great Republic: Political Novels and the Idea of America (2018)
This book brings us the spiritual side of Lincoln, but it brings together the spiritual and the political, which was so much the essence of Lincoln—freedom’s cause had to be carried out in history, in a political system. As the author notes, Lincoln found a way to do this without “ambition corrupting honor.” It’s a lesson in power to us. Want to return to a better picture of ourselves and our national identity given the grim present? This is your book—a wonderful collection of short daily essays that is just plain restorative.
William B. Bonvillian, MIT lecturer, author and former senior U.S. Senate staff advisor
Oh, that we had an Abraham Lincoln today! Now, we do have Abraham Lincoln’s words and deeds, and Duncan Newcomer’s trenchant accounting of what lay behind those words and deeds.
Jeff Byrum, radio listener, choral singer and retired IT engineer
I count myself fortunate that Quiet Fire airs on my local radio station. Each Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., I pause what I’m doing so that I can take in a perfect nugget of wisdom and thought-provoking analysis, which I digest long afterwards. Duncan Newcomer’s tidy illumination of various facets of Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual life is a true gift.
Chrissy Fowler, traditional dance leader and community organizer, Belfast ME
The Rev. Dr. Duncan D. Newcomer is an accomplished Lincoln scholar as well as an ordained minister. These healing, inspiring readings are especially welcome in the gloomy present context of our nation’s politics. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys having uplifting short readings near at hand, to anyone interested in Abraham Lincoln—and to anyone curious about the spiritual life of the person whom many regard as the finest, noblest man who ever served us as our president.
Dave Edgerton, author of the novel, 270 East, and expert in international development
Duncan Newcomer understands that life has its natural rhythms. After reading the thirty selections for these daily devotionals, it is a testament to Dr. Newcomer’s mastery of the subject that he was able to perfectly curate the mass of Lincoln’s writings into concise lessons that resonate all day.
Gary Dickson, author of An Improbable Pairing and La Poésie de la Bonne Bouffe
Duncan Newcomer gives us the gift of Abraham Lincoln’s wise words and Duncan’s own thoughtful reflections on a side of the great president most of us have not really seen. Read this book every day for a month, and you will not only be heartened and enlightened but also given hope for our own troubled times.
Sheryl Fullerton, retired Executive Editor for Religion & Spirituality at John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Duncan Newcomer writes well, fluently, from the heart. His life-long dedication to Lincoln has been an anchor for his life and mind. It’s an aspirational American story, both Duncan’s and Lincoln’s. Like all spiritual extrapolations, it has the advantage of its aspirational and idealistic resonances. The “spiritual” doesn’t have the same meaning for me, that it has for Duncan. Still, what Duncan has done, and is doing, will be helpful to many people.
Fred Kaplan is the author of numerous biographies, including The Biography of a Writer: Lincoln.
Duncan Newcomer tells us that it is “not the land that makes us American. It’s a mindset. Americans are not a race or a tribe. To Lincoln, Americans are a people who have received a great gift: a free nation with self-government.” And “Thirty Days with Abraham Lincoln” reminds us, writes Newcomer, that “Americans did not create this free nation on their own; in Lincoln’s mind, a divine assistance made it possible.”
In fact, in so many of these fascinating affirmations, Newcomer comes back, again and again, to the role of the divine in Lincoln’s thoughts, writings and deeds, an interesting lens indeed through which to view this extraordinary “man for all seasons.”
Here there is “an abiding presence everywhere for good.” There, “God acting in history,” and, yonder, a leap of faith into the future, a reimagining of the world, an alternative future. In the dark times of the 1860’s “Lincoln called on Congress to rise up and be honorable. He called on Congress and the people to rise up together: to see a future, to be lighted down with honor—to the latest generation.”
“It may just be,” writes Newcomer, “that more than two centuries after the birth of Lincoln, new generations of people are ready to follow an aged, transcendental idealist like Lincoln once again—in order to find a new birth of freedom…This spirit can make the young wide awake and relight the fire inside the old, leading us down in honor—to the latest generation.”
Thirty Days with Lincoln, a compendium of Newcomer’s radio talks Quiet Fire, is both a fascinating set of nostalgia and a clarion reminder of the enduring vitality and effectiveness of the “quiet fire” of soulfulness, patience, goodness, faith, steadfastness, honor, vision, and humor in national leadership.
This is compelling reading: a passage a day or the whole 30 days in one sitting. And the reader is left with a transcendent yearning for the yonder, where indeed hope can be kindled, and an abiding reminder of our (sacred) responsibility to carry each other—down to the last generation.
Peter Stevens M.A., a former Peace Corps Volunteer, is an educator with many years as teacher, counselor and headmaster in independent schools in Europe and the United States. More recently, Peter has worked with young people challenged by family and personal issues, and has worked as an educational consultant helping students and parents find schools, programs, and colleges. He lives in Western Massachusetts, where he serves on several non-profit boards. A former colleague and a long-time friend of Duncan Newcomer, Peter bears witness to Duncan’s spiritual development and his ever-evolving fascination with the life, words, deeds and spiritual development of Abraham Lincoln.
Through the words and life of Abraham Lincoln, Duncan Newcomer conveys with passion and erudition how much the Great Emancipator has to teach us. Yes, more books have been written about Lincoln than anyone besides Jesus Christ, but from his famous “mystic chords of memory” there probably aren’t that many that have coaxed such intriguing and inspiring notes.
David Margolick, author of The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
We invite you to join this “spiritual conversation” with Abraham Lincoln, surely one of our most revered presidents. As people who practice daily prayer, both morning and evening, these meditations on the spiritual life of Lincoln have special meaning. Lincoln pondered deeply the vexing issues of the day, he reflected upon them drawing on his varied experiences and the wisdom of both Shakespeare and the Bible.
Today, it seems, we are in another national crisis, one that on the external appears chaotic and divisive. Inspired by these reflections from Lincoln we can see that these vexations are an outer and visible sign of a deep disquiet in our national psyche—a conflict of values. Through Lincoln’s words we can reflect on this crisis of values in our nation today and still be guided by this remarkable man.
We have found this book a fitting addition to our own daily routine of prayer and meditation and highly commend it to you.
Ray and Patricia Estabrook, founders and directors of the Game Loft, a youth development program that has promoted Positive Youth Development for over 20 years.