Abraham Lincoln

( 14 )

Overview

Marking the two-hundredth anniversary of Lincoln's birth, this marvelous short biography by a leading historian offers an illuminating portrait of one of the giants in the American story. It is the best concise introduction to Lincoln in print, a must-have volume for anyone interested in American history or in our greatest president.

Best-selling author James M. McPherson follows the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks from his early years in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, ...

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Abraham Lincoln

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Overview

Marking the two-hundredth anniversary of Lincoln's birth, this marvelous short biography by a leading historian offers an illuminating portrait of one of the giants in the American story. It is the best concise introduction to Lincoln in print, a must-have volume for anyone interested in American history or in our greatest president.

Best-selling author James M. McPherson follows the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks from his early years in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, to his highly successful law career, his marriage to Mary Todd, and his one term in Congress. We witness his leadership of the Republican anti-slavery movement, his famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas (a long acquaintance and former rival for the hand of Mary Todd), and his emergence as a candidate for president in 1860. Following Lincoln's election to the presidency, McPherson describes his masterful role as Commander in Chief during the Civil War, the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. The book also discusses his lasting legacy and why he remains a quintessential American hero two hundred years after his birth, while an annotated bibliography permits easy access to further scholarship.

With his ideal short account of Lincoln, McPherson provides a compelling biography of a man of humble origins who preserved our nation during its greatest catastrophe and ended the scourge of slavery.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I think the world of Jim McPherson. When people ask me which historians' writing today they should read, I always recommend Jim, as a writer and as an historian." —David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 1776 and John Adams

"A gem. Beautifully written, it is clear, concise, and correct. This is the best, very brief, biography of our sixteenth president ever written." —David Herbert Donald, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln

"Abraham Lincoln at last has found his best short biography. Jim McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian, brings his vast knowledge and lucid writing to an illumination of the life of America's most revered President. McPherson touches more Lincoln bases than any reader might reasonably expect, winning a well-deserved accolade that less is truly more." —Ronald C. White, Jr., author of A. Lincoln: A Biography

"James McPherson's Abraham Lincoln should be read by every American, indeed by every person the world over, who wants to understand the preeminent American president. McPherson's biography—brief, analytical, beautifully written—encompasses the whole of Lincoln's life. In but a few hours, every reader of this remarkable, short book can know the major moments in the rise of Lincoln— from a poor boy on the western frontier to one of the world's greatest statesmen."—Lewis Lehrman, author of Lincoln at Peoria: A Turning Point and founder of the Lincoln Institute

"This little book is bigger than its pages and should be in every library, schoolhouse, and home as a bicentennial birthday present to ourselves to remind us why Lincoln does indeed 'belong to the ages."—Library Journal

"Crisply written and judiciously compact, James M. McPherson's new book is an invaluable contribution—an authoritative biography of Abraham Lincoln that can be read at a single sitting."—Douglas L. Wilson, Lincoln Prize-winning author of Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words

"McPherson knows how to cut to the heart of a man and his times." —Journal of Southern History

William Safire
…a speedy narrative but no superficial treatment.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian McPherson (Battle Cry of Freedom) contributes to the slew of Lincoln biennial books with this succinct biography, weighing in at a lean 70 pages (plus notes), that delivers gracefully on McPherson's promise to capture "the essential events and meaning of Lincoln's life without oversimplification or overgeneralization." McPherson is a precise writer with a masterful command of the subject, guiding readers through the evolution of Lincoln's thinking on race, his lifelong struggle with depression, his improbable rise to political power, his anguish over the breakup of the union and his determination to see it made whole again. For anyone wanting to fill the gaps in their understanding of the Great Emancipator by the end of President's Day, this efficient account from a noted Civil War scholar is a near-perfect solution.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Former U.S. senator McGovern-who is also a Ph.D. historian-knows something about presidential leadership and the potential and actual abuses of power that come especially during wartime. In this compact but convincing portrait, he assesses Lincoln's greatness in terms of his ability to use his humble origins, empathy, keen sense of justice, uncommon skill in seeing the essence of an issue, faith in American democracy, gifts of language, and personal self-confidence-all to become a masterly lawyer, a party leader, commander in chief, and a heroic figure with both the vision and the practicality to realize his purposes. McGovern breaks no new interpretive ground here, but he knows the recent scholarship well enough and kneads it into his book. Given his own politics, McGovern not surprisingly examines Lincoln's use of war powers in suspending habeas corpus, suppressing dissent, and freeing the slaves, finally conceding that the great crisis of secession and the prospect of ending slavery justified Lincoln's overstepping constitutional bounds-for the moment. This biography warrants reading to catch the sense of Lincoln's greatness, both for his own day and ours. Recommended for public and university libraries.

McPherson, America's leading authority on Lincoln and his times, demonstrates his complete command of his subject in this concise but remarkably rich and perceptive biography. With deft strokes, McPherson draws his Lincoln as a man moved always by the double lodestar of Union and freedom, with each contingent upon the other. McPherson's Lincoln has his priorities right, never confusing means and ends and ever mindful of his own limitations even as he acted confidently on hisown good judgment. Readers of McPherson's many books on Lincoln will not find any surprises here, though McPherson does add a few new insights into Lincoln's character, but all will appreciate how the author reveals Lincoln's genius in leading people to the better angels of their nature and the nation to a new birth of freedom. This little book is bigger than its pages and should be in every library, schoolhouse, and home as a bicentennial birthday present to ourselves to remind us why Lincoln does indeed "belong to the ages."
—Randall M. Miller

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195374520
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 292,978
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He has published numerous volumes on the Civil War, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom, Crossroads of Freedom (which was a New York Times bestseller), Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, which won the Lincoln Prize.

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    1. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 11, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Valley City, North Dakota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN) 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1963

Customer Reviews

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( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2009

    Abraham Lincoln

    Good book for a short but sweet life of Lincoln. Touched on major points of this life. I would like to read some of the other books Mr. McPherson recommended at the back of this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2009

    Great first read on Lincoln

    A no frills biography of Lincoln. I'm starting to read several books about the civil war. My knowledge of Lincoln is limited and I wanted to get up to speed with out having to read several hundred pages. This was a quick read and gave me the information I was looking for birth to death. I would recommend this to a friend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Short Lincoln Bio

    Bought this book as a gift for a birthday gift. As she was interested in starting to read about Lincoln. Great first bio of our 16th president as all the information is there in a very short form thus not overwhelming the first time Lincoln reader.
    Prof. McPherson's research is impeccable and even in this much written about subject he found a way to keep it interesting and flowing in an extremely concise way.
    Enjoyed the book very much and made great gift.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Lincoln in Three Score and Seven Pages

    With the flood of Lincoln books on the market with the bicentennial, it is easy to get swept up in the majesty of long, hefty tomes of our 16th president. Yet James McPherson's ABRAHAM LINCOLN delivers all the inspiration, balanced facts, and extraordinary parts of Abraham Lincoln's life, from Kentucky to Springfield to Washington. <BR/><BR/>The slim volume is a bit discouraging on the face, for how could one possibly squeeze all the vibrant facts, paradoxes, and trials of our greatest president's life into sixty-seven pages. But Mr. McPherson brilliantly navigates Lincoln's life, providing sobering, interesting, and moving bits and pieces of this man's life.<BR/><BR/>Though McPherson rehashes all the interesting tid-bits of Lincoln's adolescent years, the author shines with the descriptions of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the intricacies of the election of 1860, the long days of the civil war, and Lincoln's personal views on slavery and race. <BR/><BR/>Though I am a great admirer of Donald's LINCOLN and White's A. LINCOLN, it would do all Americans good (history buffs and casual readers alike) to digest Lincoln's life in a highly readable, enthralling, and engaging narrative. Sometimes, in our exhaustive efforts to understand this elusive man, we become bogged down in petty details and minor historical quibbles. McPherson brings Lincoln back to where he belongs- accessible to all readers, understood both for his triumphs and his faults, and an inspiration for modern-day executives and citizens alike.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great SGort Bio of Lincoln

    MacPherson shows why he ia recognized as one of our leading historians. This is an excellent short bio of Abraham Lincoln.

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