From Publishers Weekly
There's probably not much left to learn about Lincoln's life, but the flood of bicentennial studies attest that he apparently still has things to teach us. In this modest, fluent bio, part of the American Presidents Series, former Democratic senator and presidential nominee McGovern (Social Security and the Golden Age) finds an inspiring lesson in what a man can do with his life. McGovern's Lincoln is a smart, ambitious striver who overcame humble origins, repeated setbacks and spells of depression. He is an idealist who, though burdened with the racial prejudices of his day, embraced the principle of equal opportunity. Most resonantly for the author, he is a brilliant politician who, combining pragmatism with high purpose, steered a crooked course through ugly political realities to end the intractable curse of slavery. Some of McGovern's judgments, like his overstated depiction of Lincoln as an exponent of "total war," miss the mark, and his subject remains something of a paragon. (His chief complaint is about Lincoln's wartime suspensions of habeas corpus and press freedoms.) Still, when McGovern's lucid homage concludes. "We wish our leaders could be more like Lincoln; we wish we all could be," readers are likely to agree. Photos.
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A startlingly original and deeply thoughtful analysis of Abraham Lincoln. If you are looking to read just one book on Lincoln, this landmark gem is the one! (Douglas Brinkley)
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A dramatically engaging and intellectually stimulating rendering of the life of our greatest president. (Thomas J. Knock, Southern Methodist University)
McGovern's Lincoln is a finely wrought gem. In this small volume McGovern captures Lincoln's character and leadership strength better than many weighty tomes. It is a worthy addition to the brilliant American Presidents Series. (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
Short and sweet… a well-timed entry in Times Books' presidents series. (Boston Sunday Globe)
Abraham Lincoln is an entry in the highly regarded American Presidents series… A fine read for those who want to know about Lincoln but may not have the time for the more in-depth biographies. (Bookpage)
Compact and commanding… With considerable skill and insight, McGovern… crafts a biography snappy, clear and comprehensive enough to please general readers, students and scholars alike… he nails the essential strengths, flaws, failures and achievements of America's most revered leader… McGovern's overall depiction is one of a complex, tolerant and extraordinary man who simultaneously preserved the Union and transformed the nation. (Kirkus Reviews)
McGovern finds an inspiring lesson in what a man can do with his life. McGovern's Lincoln is a smart, ambitious striver who overcame humble origins, repeated setbacks and spells of depression… when McGovern's lucid homage concludes, 'We wish our leaders could be more like Lincoln; we wish we all could be,' readers are likely to agree. (Publishers Weekly)
In this compact but convincing portrait, [McGovern] assesses Lincoln's greatness in terms of his ability to use his humble origins… faith in American democracy, gifts of language, and personal self-confidence… The biography warrants reading to catch the sense of Lincoln's greatness, both for his own day and ours. (Library Journal)
[A] fine préscis… [McGovern] clearly enunciates the great changes that Lincoln and the war began to effect. (Booklist)