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William H. Herndon was Abraham Lincoln's law partner, close friend, and first great biographer. His Life of Lincoln, written to counteract the worshipful view of Lincoln held by the public, caused enormous controversy when first published in 1889. Unlike the hagiographies that celebrate the selflessness of the "Great Emancipator," Herndon's account emphasizes Lincoln's private life: his broodings, self-doubts, warring contradictions. Many have disputed Herndon's politcal and personal insights, in particular his famous conjecture of Lincoln's passion for Ann Rtuledge, but no one denies the amazing amount of information he collected on his subject, the compelling narrative he wove from it, and the living portrait that emerges of Lincoln in all his human grandeur.
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