Andrew Burstein

 

When they went to bed at night, what kinds of dreams did 18th- and 19th-century Americans have?  What images, what fractured narratives, did they write down? Until now, no one imagined it possible to reconstruct the American Dream literally.

Lincoln Dreamt He Died: The Midnight Visions of Remarkable Americans from Colonial Times to Freud  (2013) chronicles the often bizarre sleep narratives of Americans past, offering an uncommonly rich meditation on bygone lives. 

We peel back the curtain and go inside the minds of scores of earlier dreamers, including well-known figures such as John and Abigail Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain. . . and the notably superstitious Abraham Lincoln. 

Here we glimpse the fragile inner world of dreamers who once inhaled the same air we do, but live now only on the printed page.