This is part of an exceptional series of biographies from the wonderful school of historians of the mid-nineteenth century, in this case by the brothers John and Jacob Abbott. I hope that I will be forgiven for posting this review at various titles I have read.
I would like to quote Abraham Lincoln's letter to the brothers, for it is incredibly powerful.
"I want to thank you and your brother for Abbott's series of Histories. I have not education enough to appreciate the profound works of voluminous historians, and if I had, I have no time to read them. But your series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge of past men and events which I need. I have read them with the greatest interest. To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge I have."
Some may be put off by the oftentimes long background stories, which can get somewhat tangential to the subject. Jacob especially seems prone to this. However, I find the Abbott's bios fascinating even when they get carried away and wander a bit too far from home. As a true history lover, it is hard to loose me.
As for judgments and opinions, yes, the Brothers Abbott give them freely and without reservation. While some will no doubt consider their views dated, please keep in mind that these books were written practically two centuries ago, when people thought very differently. In most cases, however, I find their ideas to be timeless, and in this sense, quite refreshing. If only today's historians could write so passionately and sensitively.