I’m currently nearing the end of the novel “Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith. It will be released as a major motion picture this summer. I was expecting to find a fun, creepy, and honestly, pretty corny story about things that could not possibly be true. I found something quite different than my expectation.
I found history.
That’s right, this is one thoroughly researched novel. Of course there is the one glaring mistruth – vampires. But aside from that, there is a portrait of the early to mid 1800s, a recounting of Lincoln’s life, his various moves in his younger years, his political rise, and his personal struggles (of course vampires weren’t actually the cause…). You learn and read things that rarely – if ever – grace the pages of school text books – snippets from the Lincoln Douglas debates, the date of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. You meet historical characters that most couldn’t identify today – George McClellan, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Mary Surratt, and of course, John Wilkes Booth. (If you could identify 3 out of 5, you are doing quite well in modern America.) And you even catch a brief glimpse of a notable writer of the time – in an entirely fictional role – Edgar Allen Poe.
Seth Grahame-Smith has done something that millions of dollars in education spending and countless hours of class instruction have not been able to do. He has made history interesting to this generation. Put aside the vampire attacks, the fictional overlords of Southern society, and ignore the superhero-esque evolution of our 16th president. There are also real, hard facts about American History here. If you have to coat your broccoli with a dusting of sugar to get your kids to eat it, then I see nothing wrong with a vampire or two to get young people to read our country’s history. The important thing is for them to learn their history (or eat their broccoli, whatever the case).
Maybe we should change all of our text books to include a vampire or two. After everyone was thoroughly educated in American History, Western Civilization, Ancient History (add any subject you choose here) we could end with a graduation ceremony where we hear one final, key sentence over the PA system: “Remember everything you’ve learned, but forget the part about the vampires.”