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Shortlisted for the 2018 Lincoln Prize Previous biographies of Abraham Lincoln—universally acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents—have typically focused on his experiences in the White House. In Becoming Lincoln, renowned historian William Freehling instead emphasizes the prewar years, revealing how Lincoln came to be the extraordinary leader who would guide the nation through its most bitter chapter. Freehling’s engaging narrative focuses anew on Lincoln’s journey. The epic highlights Lincoln’s difficult family life, first with his father and later with his wife. We learn about the staggering number of setbacks and recoveries Lincoln experienced. We witness Lincoln’s famous embodiment of the self-made man (although he sought and received critical help from others). The book traces Lincoln from his tough childhood through incarnations as a bankrupt with few prospects, a superb lawyer, a canny two-party politician, a great orator, a failed state legislator, and a losing senatorial candidate, to a winning presidential contender and a besieged six weeks as a pre-war president. As Lincoln’s individual life unfolds, so does the American nineteenth century. Few great Americans have endured such pain but been rewarded with such success. Few lives have seen so much color and drama. Few mirror so uncannily the great themes of their own society. No one so well illustrates the emergence of our national economy and the causes of the Civil War. The book concludes with a substantial epilogue in which Freehling turns to Lincoln’s wartime presidency to assess how the preceding fifty-one years of experience shaped the Great Emancipator’s final four years. Extensively illustrated, nuanced but swiftly paced, and full of examples that vividly bring Lincoln to life for the modern reader, this new biography shows how an ordinary young man from the Midwest prepared to become, against almost absurd odds, our most tested and successful president.
“Brilliant . . . Ferguson’s guided tour of the often amusing, sometimes bizarre ways we remember Lincoln today . . . is heartening and even inspiring” (Bill Kristol, Time). Abraham Lincoln was our greatest president and perhaps the most influential American who ever lived. But what is his place in our country today? In Land of Lincoln, Andrew Ferguson packs his bags and embarks on a journey to the heart of contemporary Lincoln Nation, where he encounters a world as funny as it is poignant, and a population as devoted as it is colorful. In small-town Indiana, Ferguson drops in on the national conference of Lincoln presenters, 175 grown men who make their living (sort of) by impersonating their hero. He meets the premier collectors of Lincoln memorabilia, prized items of which include Lincoln’s chamber pot, locks of his hair, and pages from a boyhood schoolbook. He takes his wife and children on a trip across the long-defunct Lincoln Heritage Trail, a driving tour of landmarks from Lincoln’s life. This book is an entertaining, unexpected, and big-hearted celebration of Lincoln’s enduring influence on our country—and the people who help keep his spirit alive. “A hilarious, offbeat tour of Lincoln shrines, statues, cabins and museums . . . Mr. Ferguson maps it expertly, with an understated Midwestern sense of humor that Lincoln, master of the funny story, would have been the first to appreciate.” —William Grimes, The New York Times
Lincoln was a complicated man; unassuming but ambitious, honest but wily, humorous but occasionally despondent, spiritual but not religious, and he thought slavery was evil but condoned its legality until late in his life. The author, as narrator, tells of Lincoln’s magnanimity in both victory and defeat, his continual quest for self-improvement, his personal tragedies, and his compassion in the midst of war. However, Lincoln was a pragmatic politician who pushed the Emancipation Proclamation although it did not free many slaves, used patronage to secure votes, and ordered the extraordinary use of Presidential War Powers. His life story is told in a generally chronological series of chapters focused on a time or specific event in Lincoln’s life from his childhood to his time in New Salem on his own, his “adventure in the Law,” his close relationship with friends, his political career, his family, his unlikely rise to become President of the United States, and the monumental decisions he faced during the Civil War. There are over 16,000 books about Lincoln registered with the Library of Congress ranging from those which only extol his virtues (and he had many) to those which attempt to “de-myth” his legacy by exaggerating his faults (and he had a few). The fact is that Lincoln’s life defies simple characterizations. He had opposed President Polk’s “Unconstitutional use of power” during the Mexican War, but Lincoln later assumed War Powers beyond Polk’s or any other previous President. He was known as “Honest Abe” and even political opponents remarked that “his cards were always face-up,” but he once intentionally misled Congress. He agonized over the carnage inflicted on both sides of the War, but continually ordered his Generals to “push the fight” to the Southern armies. To Lincoln, however, these actions were not “transgressions” but strategies necessary to end the War and to achieve his overarching goal, the preservation of the Union. The issues of slavery, secession and the Civil War are discussed to explore the effect of certain events on Lincoln and the life-changing decisions he made. Lincoln’s personal and political philosophy toward slavery evolved over time, but he always believed secession was illegal and must be prohibited. Selected Civil War battles and the Generals who were in command are also presented, but only if there was a direct impact on Lincoln personally or on his management of the War. Mr. Dorris chose to not include a detailed account of the assassination conspiracy against Lincoln or the circumstance of his death, focusing instead on his life and the way he lived it. While every attempt was made to be historically accurate, Mr. Dorris chose to not present a history textbook with every page interrupted by footnotes to prove authenticity. Instead this narrative utilizes verifiable consensus information about Lincoln and it does not attempt to “plow new ground” by either challenging or embellishing Lincoln’s legacy. Mr. Dorris assumes the role of a narrator and simply tells his rendition of the fascinating life story of “Abraham Lincoln - an uncommon, common man.”
Throughout his life, Lincoln consulted oracles; at age 22, he was told by a seer that he would become president of the United States. In his dreams, he foresaw his own sudden death. Trauma and heartbreak opened the psychic door for this president, whose precognitive dreams, evil omens, and trance-like states are carefully documented in this bold and poignant chronicle of tragic beginnings, White House séances, and paranormal eruptions of the Civil War era. Aided by the deathbed memoir of his favorite medium, Lincoln's remarkable psychic experiences comes to life with communications from beyond, ESP, true and false prophecies, and thumbnail sketches of the most influential spiritualists in his orbit. Surveying clairvoyant incidents in Lincoln's life from cradle to grave, the book also examines the Emancipation Proclamation and the unseen powers that moved pen to hand for its historic signing.
The ideal concise biography of an American icon- now available in paperback for the bicentennial of his birth The self -mad e man from a log cabin, the great orator, the Emancipator, the Savior of the Union, the martyr-Lincoln's story is at the very heart of American history. But who was he, really? In this outstanding biography, award-winning author Thomas Keneally follows Lincoln from his impoverished birth through his education and presidency. From the development of his political philosophy to his troubled family life and his actions during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is an incisive study of a turning point in our history and a revealing portrait of a pivotal figure.
To fully understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln's legacy, it is important to examine the society that influenced the life, character, and leadership of the man who would become the Great Emancipator. Editors Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard have done just that in Lincoln's America: 1809-1865, a collection of new and original essays by ten eminent historians that place Lincoln within his nineteenth-century cultural context. Among the topics explored in Lincoln's America are religion, education, middle-class family life, the antislavery movement, politics, and law. Of particular interest are the transition of American intellectual and philosophical thought from the Enlightenment to Romanticism and the influence of this evolution on Lincoln's own ideas. By examining aspects of Lincoln's life— his personal piety in comparison with the beliefs of his contemporaries, his success in self-schooling when frontier youths had limited opportunities for a formal education, his marriage and home life in Springfield, and his legal career— in light of broader cultural contexts such as the development of democracy, the growth of visual arts, the question of slaves as property, and French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville's observations on America, the contributors delve into the mythical Lincoln of folklore and discover a developing political mind and a changing nation. As Lincoln's America shows, the sociopolitical culture of nineteenth-century America was instrumental in shaping Lincoln's character and leadership. The essays in this volume paint a vivid picture of a young nation and its sixteenth president, arguably its greatest leader.

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