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Abraham Lincoln : A Biography (Modern Library Edition) Hardcover – April 12, 1979


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 548 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (April 12, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394604687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394604688
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,720,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A stirring story of a humble man who rose to greatness through his loyalty to his country's highest principles; a book from which adherents of democracy today may draw new inspiration." —Adlai E. Stevenson

 



"It is the best one-volume life of Lincoln ever written. And I'm not at all sure that that assertion needs the 'one-volume' qualification." —Chicago Sunday Tribune

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Benjamin P. Thomas (1902-56) was the author of Lincoln's New Salem; Portrait for Posterity:

Lincoln and His Biographers; and Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War (completed after his death by Harold M. Hyman). For many years he was the secretary of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 27 customer reviews
Very easy to read and absorb.
Denny Jackson
Bought this as a surprise gift for my husband and he was very happy with the condition of the book.
Kristin R. Bettes
Lincoln had great patience and showed remarkable wisdom in most of his decisions.
J. compton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By "reviewer17" on March 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Most Americans know the major details of the life of our sixteenth president: his pioneer family and humble upbringing; his self - education, his rise through native wit and intelligence from lawyer to state legislator to presidential candidate; his necessarily rapid growth as a statesman to become the virtual conscience of his nation during the bloodiest rift in it's history and spirit; his vilification in the South; his assassination; and his glorification in the Northern states. What many of us may not know are the particular incidents, decisions, and qualities which created the most extraordinary figure in out political history. In this one - volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin P. Thomas presents all the significant events and achievements in the life of one of the greatest presidents, and greatest men, in American history. These achievements, Thomas maintains, are a matter of record. There is none of the easy myth - making and hero worship that often mar both longer and shorter biographical treatments. In Abraham Lincoln readers will find little of the lyrical and romanticized Lincoln, nor will they encounter the historically possible but imagined situations which sometimes adorn Carl Sandburg's narrative. What they will find is a full account of the rise to power of a skillful politician and complicated man, who took on an enourmous amount of personal and public responsibility during the greatest crisis in our nation's history. Clearly an admirer of our sixteenth president, Thomas allows the story of Lincoln's successes and failures, and his priviate tragedies, to take its natural course to a regrettable and unnatural end. He permits both the character of the man and the weighty, worrisome decisions of the president to speak eloquently for themeselves.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth P. Cash on March 20, 2004
Format: Loose Leaf
I have been studying Abraham Lincoln for nearly 40 years. Many Lincoln scholars consider ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A BIOGRAPHY by Benjamin P. Thomas to be one of the three best one-volume biographies of Lincoln written to date. The other two books are LINCOLN by David Herbert Donald and WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE by Stephen B. Oates.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Whoa! on November 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have previously read a couple of books about Lincoln, enough to whet my appetite for a thorough biography. I am half way through this book and I'm enjoying the treat of reading about a man who moved ahead in politics while holding uncompromisingly to his principles and ideals which were to a very large extent influenced by his reading of the Bible. I doubt this man would last two weeks in politics today. He clearly possessed superior analytical thinking ability and he definitely earned and deserved the nick-name 'Honest Abe' which makes it easy to like him. The book itself shows honesty in not portraying him as something more than human. The errors of his youth are included in the story enabling the reader realistically to follow Lincoln's learning curve in life.

The book is well written and on rare occasion adds a word to my vocabulary which I appreciate. If a very uncommon word happens to be the exactly right one, the author uses it, to the benefit of the reader. After all, words are what we think with.

I chose this biography because it was first published in 1952. I expected, correctly as I think it turned out, that the book would give a more straightforward picture of Lincoln. It is without the tendency of some modern authors, who admire Lincoln but don't share his esteem of Scripture, to surmise, for example, that his frequent borrowing of Biblical expressions was merely a matter of Lincoln playing up to his listeners and not evidence of personal convictions. This attributes to Lincoln an insincerity of which he was obviously incapable.

The story of course also visits a mentality that existed amongst a substantial population in pre-Emancipation days. It portrays widespread reasoning and attitude toward race that today is appalling.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. L Wilson on April 7, 2004
Format: Loose Leaf
Very readable one volume life of Lincoln. Pulled things together in a way Sandburg's six volume masterpeice could not. A case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. And made utterly clear exactly what Lincoln was fighting for: that democracy as evidenced by the people's vote at the ballot box might survive as an example to the world. If all the states had voted in elections to let the succeeding states go, then OK. But there was no such election. It was always the Union, never slavery, that was his purpose, although he understood slavery to be at the heart of the matter.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By César González Rouco on April 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a teenager I remember to have read a biography by Emil Ludwig that I disliked because, by the end of it, Lincoln had become a spotless person and whatever he did or said was praised beyond measure.

Thompson's biography is different. Pursuant to Michael Burlingame's foreword, this work, which was written more than half a century ago, has passed the test of time with brilliant qualifications. In my opinion, this is a sober biography of Lincoln, showing him as a good and very balanced, down-to-earth, person, but not a saint or angelic figure, a long-limbed man of wit, shrewd politician, somehow socially awkward... A man in flesh and bone with virtues and defects.

I think that the professional historian and the educated layperson alike can savour this book, and my rate is 5 (content) and 5 (pleasure).

In addition to Thomas' classical biography, I also suggest reading the following books: 1) "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era" by James M. McPherson (nowadays the standard, very readable, one-volume history of US Civil War); 2) "Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism" by Geoffrey R. Stone, specially chapter II "The Civil War: Mr. Lincoln's First Amendment" (in fact, all the book is worth-reading); and 3) "Lincoln's Constitution" by Daniel A. Farber (not enthralling if compared to McPherson's and Stone's, but nevertheless interesting).
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