Review: ‘Abe Lincoln on Acid’

Reading Time: 3 minutes
c. Walker and Anthony Publications
c. Walker and Anthony Publications

Our sixteenth president had a pretty distinctive look from the height to the top hat to the beard (for anyone interested in medicine/trivia, there’s a decent chance Abraham Lincoln had Marfan Syndrome, which explains both the height and the disproportionately large hands and feet).

Imagine, if you will, someone who meets Lincoln’s description exactly popping up vital moments in American history.

I know, right?

Since Lincoln’s death in 1865, urban legends have spread that tales of etc. were greatly exaggerated and that, by various means and for various reasons, he, like Elvis, is still among us. Authors Brian Anthony and Bill Walker have taken one of the more outlandish and imaginative stories and run with it: the bullet with which John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, imbued with a voodoo curse, didn’t kill the sixteenth president but, rather, made him immortal and put him into a preternatural coma from which he wakes only at moments of national crisis.

Oh, the fun a creative mind could have with that scenario, and Anthony and Walker have clearly had a great deal of fun.

I haven’t read the first book in the series yet (Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1), though it is now waiting for me on my desk. I did, however, have the opportunity to peruse Abe Lincoln on Acid. It’s a perfect time year for some creepiness and undead, time-hopping former presidents, no?

In Abe Lincoln on Acid, the man himself awakens for the second time since his “assassination” on the day John F. Kennedy is shot in Dallas. After spending several years under the thumb of J. Edgar Hoover, who is determined to keep his existence a secret, Lincoln does a runner and ends up in San Francisco where he joins the peace movement and allies himself with the Black Panthers in turn, all in the hopes of finding Doctor Martin Luther King Jr, believing that to save Doctor King’s life is to save the nation.

The premise of the book is pretty spectacular, though, admittedly, I’m a sucker for alternative histories, especially those rooted in urban legends which can’t possibly be true although maybe… just maybe… And before you ask, no, I don’t actually think Lincoln was shot with a magic bullet, but it’s sort of fun to think about, isn’t it? The “What If” game is always engaging, especially standing where we are now, as a nation, in politics, race-relations, and all other manner of topics upon which we all thought we were enlightened and of which we are suddenly painfully away we haven’t the foggiest notion.

Would those circumstances be different if Lincoln had never been shot? If he had somehow survived? If he had come back? Would we be a different nation? A more tolerant and open one? Or would be still be divided? Would we still be afraid?

Would there still be damn clowns wandering around?

What if there were a savior waiting in the wings? Waiting for us to find him/her? Waiting for us to ask for the help we so desperately need to even begin to fix everything we’ve broken?

I was anticipating a little more action in the book, a little more doing, but the characterization of Lincoln feels pretty spot on, if a bit rosy (remember, the Emancipation Proclamation only actually freed the slaves in states in rebellion) and the ancillary characters, such as his physician, his cook, and John Voci (based on an actual guy) really drew me into the story and into Lincoln’s orbit. Into hope, if I’m honest that maybe there is a solution to our current disaster of a world. Maybe looking back is part of the answer; as Lin-Manuel Miranda has reminded us recently, our history as a nation is always there for inspiration, even a little creative license is needed to make it fit.

And if Abe Lincoln can walk into Black Panther headquarters in Oakland in the 1960s, well… maybe you can step outside of your comfort zone to make the world a better place too.

Abe Lincoln on Acid by Brian Anthony & Bill Walker is available now.

GeekMom received a complimentary review copy of Abe Lincolm on Acid for review purposes.