Customer Reviews for

Lincoln

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Masterful Research and Writing

It is a little difficult for me to write a review of a book that covers the US Civil War period, and notable people of that geography and era - it has fascinated me for decades, and I suspect what some people consider dry, I consider absorbing. Nevertheless, I believe I...
It is a little difficult for me to write a review of a book that covers the US Civil War period, and notable people of that geography and era - it has fascinated me for decades, and I suspect what some people consider dry, I consider absorbing. Nevertheless, I believe I can be reasonably detached with this work.

Donald is an accomplished writer - two Pulitzer Awards, and the research and style/flow of writing of Lincoln is perfect. Seriously. More importantly, he covers the life of Lincoln with a rigor for truth and evenly weighted probability masterfully, and this is the reason why I enjoyed the book so much. As a non-American, but nevertheless mid-Eighteenth Century US student, I have developed a view of who Lincoln was. I saw his as a visionary and as an eloquent statesman, and also as a self-made man. The burden of his responsibilities during the Civil War were always permeating the total picture of the man, and there seemed to be an endless collection of anecdotes about Lincoln's axe-swinging, frontier-living, small-office and saddle legal days. And much more. What Donald did was take the filters away, but at the same time analyze the self-same filters when appropriate. I discovered the real man, and with the meticulous research, feel confident that I really know the truth.

As a non-US citizen I feel that I understand the United States better, by understanding Lincoln, and his times - a period in history that has had, and continues to have, a profound influence on that great nation. Donald's book is one of those definitive sources to ensure that the understanding is complete.

posted by gezza on July 14, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

From a Military Historian

The author's access to the Hay and Nicolay papers, unavailable to previous Lincoln biographers such as Sandburg and Thomas, makes many details available, such as Lincoln's law career. Donald's strength is his clear, concise exposition of the Lincoln administration's po...
The author's access to the Hay and Nicolay papers, unavailable to previous Lincoln biographers such as Sandburg and Thomas, makes many details available, such as Lincoln's law career. Donald's strength is his clear, concise exposition of the Lincoln administration's political climate. Some military details, however, are incorrect. McClellan's chief of staff, Randolph Marcy, was his father-in-law, not his son-in-law, as Donald states.

posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2003

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2004

    Dry but very interesting

    With word that later in 2004 several new Lincoln biographies are to be published I again turned to my unread copy of Donald¿s LINCOLN. It had been highly recommended to me when I mentioned that I had never read a biography of Lincoln. I was told this was one of the best Lincoln Biographies.Overall, David Donald¿s book is just full of details and is interestingly told from Lincoln¿s perspective. (What did Lincoln know and what did he do? A real time biography.) I greatly admire Donald¿s accomplishment and learned a great deal but was disappointed that this is just not an ¿entertaining¿ narrative. The writing is dry, without a visual sense or an emotional core. You never feel you¿re experiencing Lincoln, feeling what he must have felt as he comes across in the narrative as stoically reactive to events while holding on to only one true principle, saving the union. I especially like the first part of the book covering Lincoln¿s early years up to the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. But once the Great War takes hold Lincoln is depicted as a man given to compromise and taking the middle ground unable to do anything more than ride the whirlwind of events. (Actually Lincoln said himself that this is the case and it comes so apparent in this narrative.) Lincoln appears here as an uncertain politician and seldom the statesman. This may be true and a bit unsettling to those of us who might want to ¿worship¿ the Lincoln as statesman who belongs to the ages. My reading left me with little insight into Lincoln¿s thinking, and more important without an insight into what he is feeling that I felt distanced from subject. The feeling I came away with was that Lincoln was not really comfortable in his own skin and I was uncomfortable and unsure that this could be true. I recommend Donald¿s book for its detail, overall insight, but warn that it is a tough read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 15, 2013

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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    Posted May 29, 2012

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