Civil War Sesquicentennial: Lincoln

Abraham_LincolnThere have been more books written about Lincoln than any other American historical figure; one estimate puts the amount at about 15,000. Here at TFPL, we don’t quite have as many books – a little over 300 in the entire collection – but we still have a book to fit whatever aspect of his life or career you want to learn more about.

In fact, historians have been mining the Lincoln legacy for years, finding new avenues of exploring Lincoln’s actions and his interactions with others. Whether dealing with his family, his cabinet, or his critics, the following books highlight the reasons why, almost 150 years after his death, he still fascinates.

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A. Lincoln: A Biography – Ronald C. White

  • A biography of America’s sixteenth president portrays Lincoln as a man of integrity whose moral compass holds the key to understanding his life, examining his speeches, his ideas on slavery, his religious odyssey, and his role as Commander-in-Chief. {Also by this author: The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words}

Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years – Carl Sandburg

  • Presents the life of the Civil War president, detailing his childhood, his education, career as a lawyer and legislator, his marriage, political campaigns, presidental years, and assassination.

The Case of Abraham Lincoln: A Story of Adultery, Murder, and the Making of a Great President – J.M. Fenster

  • Documents the events surrounding a mid-nineteenth-century Springfield blacksmith’s murder trial that would define Abraham Lincoln’s legal career, evaluating how the case reflected the beliefs of the time and placed Lincoln in a national spotlight.

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery – Eric Foner

  • In this landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Eric Foner gives the definitive history of Abraham Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner’s Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike. This powerful work will transform our understanding of the nation’s greatest president and the issue that mattered most. {Also by this author: Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World}

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln – John Stauffer

  • A dual portrait of the two nineteenth-century leaders evaluates their successes as self-made men, in an account that traces their dramatic rise from poverty and slavery to influential activists and writers.

Lincoln – David Herbert Donald*

Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America – Allen C. Guelzo

  • An account of the famous open-air 1858 Senate election debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln provides insight into their political rivalry while gauging mid-nineteenth-century issues and how they affected local and presidential campaigns.

Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General – John C. Waugh

Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War – Craig L. Symonds

  • Reveals how Abraham Lincoln managed the men who ran the naval side of the Civil War and transformed himself into one of the greatest naval strategists of his age, in an account of the commander-in-chief during the Civil War.

Lincoln and the Border States: Preserving the Union  – William C. Harris

  • Examines Lincoln’s relationship with border states that include Delaware, Maryland, and Missouri, the policies he devised to strengthen the Union while guerilla activity compromised the security of this region.

Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America – Gary Wills*

  • An account of Lincoln’s revolutionary speech describes how, in the space of 272 words, the President brought to bear the rhetoric of the Greek Revival, the categories of transcendentalism, and the imagery of the Rural Cemetery Movement.

Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image – Joshua Zeitz*

  • A look into the Lincoln White House through the lives of two of his closest aides and confidants draws on letters and diaries to evaluate their roles in the seminal events of Lincoln’s presidency and their fight to establish the assassinated president’s heroic legacy.

Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness – Joshua Wolf Shenk

  • A reassessment of the life of Abraham Lincoln argues that America’s sixteenth president suffered from depression and explains how Lincoln used the coping strategies he had developed to face the crises of the Civil War and personal tragedy.

Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer – Fred Kaplan

  • An analysis of the literary life of the sixteenth president explores the ways in which his views were shaped by classic literature and how he used language as a vehicle for complex ideas and an instrument of change in both political and personal arenas.

The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage – Daniel Mark Epstein

  • Offers a glimpse of the Lincolns’ passionate, sometimes troubled marriage, from their early years in Illinois and their joys and sorrows as parents, to the White House years and Mrs. Lincoln’s life following her husband’s death.

Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War – Tom Wheeler

  • An analysis of the role of the telegraph in the American Civil War reveals how Lincoln used telegraph technology as an e-mail-like military tool that enabled him to rally his generals and create a modern model for electronic leadership.

Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858 and Speeches and Writings, 1859-1865 – Abraham Lincoln

  • Presents a selection of Lincoln’s speeches and writings before and during the Civil War, highlighting his views on such issues as slavery, federal power, civic duty, death, freedom, and the meaning of the Constitution.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – Doris Kearns Goodwin*

  • This multiple biography is centered on Lincoln’s mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation’s history. Historian Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius, as the one-term congressman rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals to become president. When Lincoln emerged as the victor at the Republican National Convention, his rivals were dismayed. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery led inexorably to civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was because of his extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. It was this that enabled Lincoln to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union.

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief – James McPherson

  • Evaluates Lincoln’s talents as a commander in chief in spite of limited military experience, tracing the ways in which he worked with, or against, his senior commanders to defeat the Confederacy and reshape the presidential role. {Also by this author: Abraham Lincoln, and Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution}

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