O Captain, My Captain
“I am the man. I suffered. I was there.” These are the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman at the beginning of Robert Burleigh’s O, Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the War Years. Burleigh’s new audiobook recounts the tragic but inspiring story of President Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War through Whitman’s passionate, poetic vision. After a brief tenure as a medical assistant on the battlefields of Virginia at the beginning of the conflict, Whitman retreated to Washington, D.C., where he served as a volunteer in the city’s over-crowded military hospitals throughout the remaining years of the war. While the young poet did everything he could to comfort the wounded soldiers, he became increasingly discouraged by the suffering and death that he encountered each day. As the war progressed, Whitman developed a profound, almost worshipful admiration for President Lincoln, whom he often glimpsed riding in his Presidential carriage on the way to and from the White House. In addition to the vivid accounts of the major events of the War and the rich biographical information about Whitman and Lincoln, Burleigh’s audiobook also includes recitations of Whitman’s two great poetic elegies to Lincoln: “O, Captain, My Captain” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” along with moving passages from several other Whitman poems. The somber, measured narration provided by actors Chris Lutkin and David Bendena and the simple, wistful piano-and-violin score give the recording a mournful, nostalgic quality (reminiscent of Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary) that will resonate most deeply with history buffs and their parents.
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.