Back to Top

11.09.08 Landess, Thomas H., Life, Literature, and Lincoln: A Tom Landess Reader, edited by Clyde N. Wilson and Mary Beth Landess, published in 2014.

Notes Concerning the Author

Thomas Hildrith Landess (1931—2012) was born and raised in old pre-Disney Florida.  He received a B.A. and M.A. at Vanderbilt University, where he studied under Donald Davidson, and a Ph.D from the University of South Carolina.  He was professor of English at several colleges. Including the University of  Dallas where he was academic dean.   In mid-life Landess left the academy  for a successful career as a ghostwriter  of books and of speeches and statements for public officials. 

Our Review

Over a long career Landess wrote hundreds of articles, essays, and lectures.   He had something original to say on many subjects and from a unique perspective.  This work is a selection from among the best of such material.  “Life”:  discussions of Agrarianism;  personal recollections of the Agrarian writers, a number of whom Landess  knew well;  and commentaries on other aspects of American culture.  “Literature” contains material on the Southern Renascence;  on Southern writers like Caroline Gordon, Julia Peterkin,  Richard Weaver, Madison Jones, and Allen Tate, and on non-Southern  writers like James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Russell Kirk.   Lincoln:  Tom Landess was a close friend and colleague of M.E. Bradford.  They worked together on a book about Lincoln which has not been published.  Four of Bradford’s contributions appeared  in different books  and were the subject of the storm over the NEH chairmanship at the beginning of the Reagan presidency.  The book in hand contains a number of Landess’s essays on the subject of Lincoln.  Most interesting perhaps are his treatment of Lincoln’s churlish  behavior and deceitful rhetoric in his courtship of Mary Owens,  and the story of the idiot (literally) Lincoln grandson who was disowned by the family.  Also discussions of Bradford’s work and the authentic account, for the historical record, of the neo-conservative conspiracy  that defeated Bradford’s nomination to head the NEH.

Availability of this Book

This work will be available in 2014.  The publisher, Chronicles Press is to follow this book with a companion volume of Landess short stories.