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Lincoln [Paperback]

David Herbert Donald
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 5 1996
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.

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Lincoln + Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln + The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln: A Book of Quotations
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer prize winner Donald's biography was a PW bestseller for 11 weeks.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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 growth?and 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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Abraham Lincoln was not interested in his ancestry. In his mind he was a self-made man, who had no need to care about his family tree. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
With word that later in 2004 several new Lincoln biographies are to be published I again turned to my unread copy of Donald's LINCOLN. It had been highly recommended to me when I mentioned that I had never read a biography of Lincoln. I was told this was one of the best Lincoln Biographies.Overall, David Donald's book is just full of details and is interestingly told from Lincoln's perspective. (What did Lincoln know and what did he do? A real time biography.) I greatly admire Donald's accomplishment and learned a great deal but was disappointed that this is just not an "entertaining" narrative. The writing is dry, without a visual sense or an emotional core. You never feel you're experiencing Lincoln, feeling what he must have felt as he comes across in the narrative as stoically reactive to events while holding on to only one true principle, saving the union. I especially like the first part of the book covering Lincoln's early years up to the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. But once the Great War takes hold Lincoln is depicted as a man given to compromise and taking the middle ground unable to do anything more than ride the whirlwind of events. (Actually Lincoln said himself that this is the case and it comes so apparent in this narrative.) Lincoln appears here as an uncertain politician and seldom the statesman. This may be true and a bit unsettling to those of us who might want to "worship" the Lincoln as statesman who belongs to the ages. My reading left me with little insight into Lincoln's thinking, and more important without an insight into what he is feeling that I felt distanced from subject. The feeling I came away with was that Lincoln was not really comfortable in his own skin and I was uncomfortable and unsure that this could be true. I recommend Donald's book for its detail, overall insight, but warn that it is a tough read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at Lincoln, the man Feb. 1 2003
"Lincoln" is a remarkable look at Abraham Lincoln as he advanced from extremely poor, rural roots, in what was then the western United States, into both the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Congress for one term, through a career as a self-taught lawyer, and finally to the presidency. The author has extensively researched Lincoln's movements, first-hand accounts of his utterances, his formal speeches and writings, as well as official records kept in the discharge of his various duties and offices.
It is a fascinating look at the evolution of the character and personality of a man of meager origins and virtually no formal education. Lincoln was driven to make something of himself; this is best seen in his insatiable desire to educate himself. Beyond self-development, Lincoln had an inherent ability to relate to others. He combined humility with a great ability to tell stories. This ease among his fellow citizens led to his being elected to the Illinois legislature at a fairly young age and to a reasonably successful career as a lawyer.
Lincoln was a Whig and devotee of Henry Clay and his American system of internal improvements. But it would be completely wrong to regard Lincoln as mostly an opportunistic politician. He was principled, if anything. Manipulating a political view to get elected would have never occurred to Lincoln. Furthermore, Lincoln was a man of his word. When elected to Congress in 1846, he returned home after one term as he promised, though undoubtedly he could have been re-elected. However, the author shows that Lincoln became very astute politically with a substantial network of political friends both at the state and national levels.
Early in Lincoln's career, slavery was seldom an issue.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Account of A Complex and Interesting Man June 30 2004
Overall, I found Donald's account of Honest Abe to be a good one and I humbly offer what I thought were the good and bad points of this book:
1. The first couple of chapters describing Lincoln's early life were quite interesting and informative, from the strong relationship with his stepmother to the strained relationship with his father. Reading about his other early struggles and failures further impressed me with Lincoln's persistence and incredible tenacity.
2. Deep level of detail concerning certain points of his life, notably his early law practice, political career, and relationships with cabinet members. If you like this kind of information, then this book is right down your alley!
3. Interesting descriptions of his relationship with certain generals, notably George McClellan (aka "Young Napoleon"). I developed a greater appreciation of the military pressures Lincoln endured during the Civil War.
1. The book's length - the text was right at 600 pages and at times proved to be a dry read. While interesting anecdotes were incorporated, the text often seemed to drag on with dry policy decisions. Granted, I am more interested in military affairs as opposed to politics. However, I still believe the book spent too much on the politics and not nearly enough on the military.
2. Personalization of Lincoln - as mentioned in other reviwes, I concur that the reader still misses the essence of Lincoln (What did he experience and how did he really feel about a policy issue or military action? How about more of his relationship with his wife and children?). While the reader is often told things like the incredible number of hours Lincoln put in while in the White House, the essence of Lincoln is left out.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars greetings
Product is fine, only one thing, I was of the impression it would be a hardbound book but turned out to be soft cover. Otherwise everything was fine & book arrived on schedule.
Published 17 months ago by Gerry Seeley
3.0 out of 5 stars Lincoln
While expecting an excellent and detailed read about the life of Abraham Lincoln, parts of the book were disappointing. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ode Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Long and Often Hard to Keep up But Worth It!
I don't have much time to read as would like to so I read this book when I had time. It is well-crafted book. It offers the best biography of one of my favorite heroes. Read more
Published on June 7 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars LINCOLN
This is a very good place to start with Abraham Lincoln. However, I wouldn''t make it your only resource. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by Kristina D. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Just average
I read this book as part of my ongoing hobby to read a biography of every President and to be honest this is the worst one I have read to date. Read more
Published on April 18 2004 by Sean Claycamp
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the Best 1-Volume Lincoln Biography
I have been studying Abraham Lincoln for nearly 40 years. Many Lincoln scholars consider LINCOLN by David Herbert Donald to be one of the three BEST one-volume biographies of... Read more
Published on March 20 2004 by Kenneth P. Cash
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the Best 1-Volume Biography of Lincoln
I have been studying Abraham Lincoln for nearly 40 years. Many Lincoln scholars consider LINCOLN by David Herbert Donald to be one of the three BEST one-volume biographies of... Read more
Published on March 20 2004 by Kenneth P. Cash
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I'm not typically a biography fan. I'm a history buff, but I tend to prefer reading about events in history, and getting relevant information about the players in those events... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2004 by Ian Fowler
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography, though lacking a certain spark
For anyone curious about Lincoln or the American Civil War, Donald's biography is excellent. Laden with detail, it covers all of Lincoln's life and provides great insight into the... Read more
Published on Dec 25 2003 by Jerry Saperstein
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully satisfying
This book is wonderfully satisfying. The author's scholarship--deep and wide--is evident on every page, and his reflections--mature and nuanced--help to explain countless aspects... Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2003 by Brian D. McGinty
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