Lincoln

Lincoln

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by David Herbert Donald
     
 

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A masterful work by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.

Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country

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Overview

A masterful work by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.

Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country divided by civil war. Donald goes beyond biography, illuminating the gradual development of Lincoln’s character, chronicling his tremendous capacity for evolution and growth, thus illustrating what made it possible for a man so inexperienced and so unprepared for the presidency to become a great moral leader. In the most troubled of times, here was a man who led the country out of slavery and preserved a shattered Union—in short, one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. "A grand work—the Lincoln biography for this generation."

Harold Holzer Chicago Tribune "Lincoln immediately takes its place among the best of the genre, and it is unlikely that it will be surpassed in elegance, incisiveness and originality in this century. . . . A book of investigative tenacity, interpretive boldness and almost acrobatic balance."

James M. McPherson The Atlantic Monthly "Eagerly awaited, Lincoln fulfills expectations. Donald writes with lucidity and elegance."

David W. Blight Los Angeles Times "A one-volume study of Lincoln's life that will augment and replace the previous modern standards by Benjamin Thomas (1953) and Stephen Oates (1977). Donald's Lincoln is a scholarly achievement."

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pulitzer prize winner Donald's biography was a PW bestseller for 11 weeks. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, most recently for Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe (LJ 12/86), Donald proves himself the superb biographer of Lincoln, though two recent biographies, Michael Burlingame's The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln (LJ 4/1/94) and Merrill Peterson's Lincoln in American Memory (LJ 10/1/94), are both important studies. Donald's profile of the 16th president focuses entirely on Lincoln, seldom straying from the subject. It looks primarily at what Lincoln "knew, when he knew it, and why he made his decisions." Donald's Lincoln emerges as ambitious, often defeated, tormented by his married life, but with a remarkable capacity for growthand the nation's greatest president. What really stands out in a lively narrative are Lincoln's abilities to hold together a nation of vastly diverse regional interests during the turmoil and tragedy of the Civil War. Donald's biography will appeal to all readers and will undoubtedly corral its share of book awards. Highly recommended for all libraries.Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.
Harold Holzer
Lincoln immediately takes its place among the best of the genre, and it is unlikely that it will be surpassed in elegance, incisiveness and originality in this century…a book of investigative tenacity, interpretive boldness and almost acrobatic balance.
Chicago Tribune
Jane M. McCherfon
Eagerly awaited, Lincoln fulfills expectations. Donald writes with lucidity and elegance.
The Atlantic Monthly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684825359
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
11/05/1996
Pages:
720
Sales rank:
130,880
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 1.40(h) x 9.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

On the day after the Quincy debate, both Lincoln and Douglas got aboard the City, of Louisiana and sailed down the Mississippi River to Alton, for the final encounter of the campaign. Looking haggard with fatigue, Douglas opened the debate on October 15 in a voice so hoarse that in the early part of the speech he could scarcely be heard. After briefly reviewing the standard arguments over which he and Lincoln had differed since the beginning of the campaign, he made the peculiar decision to devote most of his speech to a detailed defense of his course on Lecompton. He concluded with a rabble-rousing attack on the racial views he attributed to Republicans and an announcement "that the signers of the Declaration of Independence...did not mean negro, nor the savage Indians, nor the Fejee islanders, nor any other barbarous race," when they issued that document.

In his reply Lincoln said he was happy to ignore Douglas's long account of his feud with the Buchanan administration; he felt like the put-upon wife in an old jestbook, who stood by as her husband struggled with a bear, saying, "Go it, husband!-Go it bear!" Once again he went through his standard answers to Douglas's charges against him and the Republican party. Recognizing that at Alton he was addressing "an audience, having strong sympathies southward by relationship, place of birth, and so on," he tried explain why it was so important to keep slavery out of Kansas and other national territories. This was land needed "for an outlet for our surplus., population"; this was land where "white men may find a home"; this was "an outlet for free white people every where, the world over-in which Hans, and Baptiste and Patrick, and all other men from all the world, may find new homes and better conditions in their lives.

And that brought him again to what he perceived as "the real issue in this controversy," which once more he defined as a conflict "on the part of one class that looks upon the institution of slavery as a wrong, and of another class that does not look upon it as a wrong." Rising to the oratorical high point in the entire series of debates, he told the Alton audience: "That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. it is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings."

With a brief rejoinder by Douglas, the debates were ended. After that both candidates made a few more speeches to local rallies, but everybody realized that the campaign was over, and the decision now lay with the voters.

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Meet the Author

David Herbert Donald is the author of Lincoln, which won the prestigious Lincoln Prize and was on the New York Times bestseller list for fourteen weeks, and of Lincoln at Home. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, for Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, and for Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe. He is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and of American Civilization Emeritus at Harvard University and resides in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Lincoln, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
October 1, 1920
Place of Birth:
Goodman, Mississippi
Education:
Holmes Junior College, Millsaps College, 1941; M.A., Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1942, 1946

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Lincoln 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
gezza More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This 599 page book is an easy to read, detailed, and informative look into all aspects of Lincoln's life: prairie years,struggling and established lawyer,keen politician,family man, and Commander in Chief/President. Learn how he deals with various political factions, inept military generals,the death of two sons, and the impact the war had upon him. The book will provide the reader with a greater appreciation of the statesman that held the union together.
James57 More than 1 year ago
The amount of information in this book is incredible. Just to give an idea, Donald needed 100 pages just to cite everything that he used. Starting with Lincoln's humble beginnings and family life, to his law practice, his political career, and of course his presidency and early demise, Donald takes his readers into the life of our 16th President like no other writer (to my knowledge), has before. With the amount of detail and information included, this is a very heavy read. Some areas drag a bit and can be a bit dry but if you are looking for a biography filled with detail that takes you into the life and mind of Lincoln, this is the book for you.
BenFishers More than 1 year ago
This book on Lincoln by Donald is a great read. Having gone through several other books, others that are dry, incomplete and at times whimsical, this one hits the mark. Donald have done justice by compiling the correct data on our 16th President and has presented it in direct text, easy to read, easy to understand. It is a compliment to the author, Donald, when others copy sections from this book for their books. Why waste time and simply go for the one that covers Lincoln best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's amazing how think how Lincoln would never make it in the do-or-die politics at the turn of this century. Donald shows us both the weaknesses and strengths of Lincoln. For those who revere him blindly, be prepared to have your eyes opened. For those who dislike him, you'll find him suffering greatly through consistent heartbreaks throughout his life and sad ending. The book is a quick read, and the audio is excellent, too.
LincolnFan More than 1 year ago
This is the book to read if you want to learn about the man behind the legend. I like the fact that it takes you on a journey from Lincoln's youth to the end of his life giving the reader a sense of knowing Lincoln much more intimately and showing what a person can achieve in their life time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the most complete and up to date understanding of Lincoln available to read. If you do not read this book, you have missed getting to know Lincoln the way Lincoln got to know life himself. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was exactly the type of biograpy about Lincoln I was looing for. We have a real tendency to simplify the actions of people and give them labels without really understanding much about them. With Lincoln we learn at a young age that he freed slaves and preserved the Union in a time of civil war. This book of course delves into other topics but I loved that Donald set out to explain reasons behind actions and especially explain the evolution of Lincoln as a politician, a leader, and a man, mostly through Lincoln's own words. Very finely crafted and researched. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely well researched historical biography. Highly recommend reading the sample. The rest is anything but dull.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Along with Gore Vidal's book on Lincoln, this is a fantastic book. This book is very well detailed, and gives an evenhanded analysis of one of our great presidents. Should be a must read for all classes/discussions on Lincoln
Anonymous 3 months ago
Snowflake
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700 page book that never slowed down. Very well written
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