Abraham Lincoln: A Biography

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Long considered a classic, Benjamin P. Thomas's Abraham Lincoln: A Biography takes an incisive look at one of American history's greatest figures. Originally published in 1952 to wide acclaim, this eloquent account rises above previously romanticized depictions of the sixteenth president to reveal the real Lincoln: a complex, shrewd, and dynamic individual whose exceptional life has long intrigued the public.

Thomas traces the president from his hardscrabble beginnings and early political career, through his years as an Illinois lawyer and his presidency during the Civil War. Although Lincoln is appropriately placed against the backdrop of the dramatic times in which he lived, the author's true focus is on Lincoln the man and his intricate personality. While Thomas pays tribute to Lincoln's many virtues and accomplishments, he is careful not to dramatize a persona already larger than life in the American imagination. Instead he presents a candid and balanced representation that provides compelling insight into Lincoln's true character and the elements that forged him into an extraordinary leader. Thomas portrays Lincoln as a man whose conviction, resourcefulness, and inner strength enabled him to lead the nation through the most violent crossroads in its history.

Thomas's direct, readable narrative is concise while losing none of the crucial details of Lincoln's remarkable life. The volume's clarity of style makes it accessible to beginners, but it is complex and nuanced enough to interest longtime Lincoln scholars. After more than half a century, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography is still an essential source for anyone interested in learning more about the many facets of the sixteenth president, and it remains the definitive single-volume work on the life of an American legend.


Thomas's biography is the definitive study of Lincoln, incorporating a lifetime of research.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A stirring story of a humble man who rose to greatness through his loyalty to his country's highest principles; a book from which adherents of democracy today may draw new inspiration." —Adlai E. Stevenson

"It is the best one-volume life of Lincoln ever written. And I'm not at all sure that that assertion needs the 'one-volume' qualification." —Chicago Sunday Tribune

From Barnes & Noble
An account of the rise to power of a skillful politician & complicated man, who took on an enormous amount of personal & public responsibility during the greatest crisis in our nation's history. The story of his triumphs, tragedies, successes & failures.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809328871
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 9/26/2008
  • Edition description: reissue
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 684,029
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin P. Thomas (1902-56) was the author of Lincoln's New Salem; Portrait for Posterity:

Lincoln and His Biographers; and Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War (completed after his death by Harold M. Hyman). For many years he was the secretary of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2002

    This is perdect for one with little time.

    This book was so outstanding. After reading this book you feel like you know Abe himself. This is a perfect book for students or people who just want to know about the 16th president.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005


    This book was very well written, but Lincoln is not the great and perfect man this book and many other people portray him as. In order to save the Constitution, Lincoln put it on hold. He suspended it. When Virginia was receding from the Union, Lincoln arrested anyone who disagreed or tried to protest on his decisions. He didn't allow the person being arrested to have a trial. He simply dumped them into jail. The man was a tyrant, as much as some people hate to acknowledge it. He even threatened Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice, when he stood up to Lincoln and said, 'Hey, this isn't right.' Lincoln ignored him, for the most part, but made it quite clear that if Taney protested again, he would be thrown into jail. But I do recognize that the man was a brilliant leader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2004


    great book about a great man. For many years i have wanted to read more about our history, this was my first book on my journey. there are many books on lincoln and not having read any others besides this one i cannot say it is the best, but it sure did a great job. It put to rest alot of rumors that have been circulating about lincoln. Please note that the books intention is not to do away with rumors, but certain things he had to do, can very easily be viewed as something different. therefore, breed incorrect assumptions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    Perfect Bio of an almost Perfect Man

    An easy to follow account of Mr. Lincoln throughout his entire life, and a well written text that paints vivid images in your mind page after page. Highly recommended to anyone from High School ages and up. The final chapter is a helpful guide to further lincoln literature.

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