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Books: Leisure reading

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'Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography'

By William Lee Miller

Knopf, $30.

Although hundreds of books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, this one is fresh. It traces his life through an ethical lens, suggesting that he was not only a great leader but a good man. The author, a respected historian, examines his life with the perspective of morality. It suggests how a man, in fact a dark-horse candidate for president, was transformed by the extremely difficult decisions he had to make.

While most critics have considered Lincoln to be ahead of his time on most issues, Miller demonstrates the thinking process that taught the president morality. He believes that Lincoln was an unusually strong intellectual leader who was tenacious and self-controlled, but that the prevalent myths surrounding the man sometimes get in the way of understanding him. Miller quotes Herbert Croly, the great intellectual writer of the early 20th century, who said Lincoln's "thoughts and actions looked toward the realization of the highest and most edifying democratic ideal."

This is a fine book that all lovers of Lincoln are bound to enjoy. — Dennis Lythgoe

'Starting Over'

By Robin Pilcher

St. Martin's Press, $24.95.

Robin Pilcher is the son of best-selling novelist Rosamunde Pilcher, but he wants readers to be convinced that he is not riding on her coattails. Set in Scotland, where Pilcher lives, this novel examines family, friends, loss and rebirth. Liz Dewhurst's 18-year marriage is broken up when her husband takes off with some "Barbie." This forces Liz to return to the family farm where her father continues to mourn the loss of his wife.

Since the farm is financially strapped, the life of the entire family is further complicated. All of this comes to bear on the new relationships that are formed to help take the place of tragedy. A man named Arthur Kempler, a German tutor, is responsible for most of the changes. Liz likes him so much that if he were 25 years younger, she would be tremendously attracted to him.

Little does she know that Arthur has a son. This is a warmly written, down-to-earth style novel about human relationships. — Dennis Lythgoe

'Arlington National Cemetery'

Photos by Lorraine Jacyno Dieterle

Pomegranate, $17.95.

Anyone who has walked through Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia will acknowledge the patriotic feeling that ensues, especially from the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame on John F. Kennedy's grave.

From a distance, the headstones seem like endless rows of almost identical marble — but each stone has a story. The photographer, a World War II veteran, has included a map of the cemetery, photographs of individual stones and shots of the cemetery throughout the year.

There are 140 color photographs in this small book subtitled "A Nation's Story Carved in Stone."

Among those lying here are Pierre L'Enfant, the architect of Washington, D.C., who died penniless in 1825; Abner Doubleday, a hero at Gettysburg, who is more famous for inventing baseball; Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary, who made an epic expedition to the North Pole; and Robert Todd Lincoln, the only one of Lincoln's sons to reach adulthood. Dennis Lythgoe