The Roosevelt-era public works mural style is entrancing. These pictures also draw on the much older style of the religious tableau, where many symbolic arrangements of figures and objects combine in a kind of 'editorial' effect. The kind of symbolism used here is part borrowed from the religious tradition, but some of it also reminds me of political cartoon symbolism.
The unaltered treatment of Lincoln's speech is something Daugherty seems to have invented in the picturebook, and is something we have seen plenty of since--most recently [b:I Have a Dream|16029151|I Have a Dream|Martin Luther King Jr.|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1355542306s/16029151.jpg|1618365] by Kadir Nelson. One brilliant visual aspect of this is how aware he was of the effect the gutter would have on the composition of the images and the text blocks. I really enjoyed the slight awkwardness of how the text wrapped across the line, and felt much like how it is when you see text carved into stone and the carvings sometimes awkwardly follow the nature of the stone--getting cramped where there's less space and spreading out too much where it's wide.
One of the nice updates to this reissue of the 1947 classic is the picture interpretation at the end, detailing in words the components of each mural and what they signify (don't know if this was in the original or not). Also, the full text is presented in clear print before the murals begin, and again in a facsimile of a primary source at the end (following Gabor Borritt's afterword). Since Borritt is a professor of Civil War studies, I wish he had included just a little provenance for the facsimile, because if I remember right there are some in Lincoln's holograph and others drafted by someone else.
Daugherty's reverent pageant-like presentation is a little difficult to swallow in today's world, but his particular form of exaggeration seems to dwell less on the sublime and more on the human. That makes it a little more palatable. A share of the glory and drama is spent on all kinds of people: soldiers, workers, farmers, statesmen, explorers, scholars, mothers, children, scientists. It's a brand of populism you don't see so much anymore, a romanticized vision of American pluralism. Patriotic without a lot of flag-waving.