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200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

Zoom History Reads Book Club- Lincoln in the Bardo

Tuesday, February 2
Starts at 7:00 PM

McLean County Museum of History
200 N. Main St, Bloomington IL 61701

All avid readers are welcome to join the Museum and Bloomington Public Library on Tuesday, February 2 at 7:00 p.m. for the first installment of the History Reads Book Club for 2021. We will meet online via Zoom to discuss Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Visit bit.ly/historyreads020221 to register for this free, online discussion.


February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown Cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

To request a copy of the book, please contact the Reference Desk at Bloomington Public library at 309-828-6093 or email reference@bloomingtonlibrary.org.