Customer Reviews: Herndon's Lincoln: the true story of a great life : the history and personal recollections of Abraham Lincoln [excerpts]
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on October 7, 2002
There are, it is said, more books about Lincoln than there are about anybody but Jesus. Every man setting out to write about Lincoln has an idea of him, a shadow to look for Lincoln in and the huge weight of tradition and history on his back while writing. Even Nicolay and Hay, his secretaries, and authors of the voluminous collected papers which are probably the best source on the Presidency, only knew the man in office, once he had enfolded himself, if you will, inside his great ambition. Herndon knew the man. He shared his office with him, a law practise which consisted of Lincoln throwing the case notes and money into his hat before putting it on to his head, and splitting all the money down the middle. Herndon also went around talking to everyone who knew Lincoln while he was alive before they died.
There are flaws to this book. Herndon drank, so Lincoln didn't take him to Washington with him. This book tells you nothing about the war, about Lincoln's policies, or even a great deal about Lincoln's debates with Douglas, say. But. And it is a great but. This is the only book that gives you a smell of the goofy, tall, funny, awkward, galumphing and generally likeable oddball that emerged as the greatest leader this country ever had. This is the only book I would advise an actor to read if he was going to undertake to play Abe Lincoln. All the other books describe a monument. This one describes a man who went on dates, told dirty jokes and had a funny way of laying his legs across the desk and reading upside down. The rest is second hand.
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on August 10, 2012
I am about 2/3rds of the way through this fabulous book and don't want it to end. Almost every biographer has used this book as a source and while I have read scores of books on this most amazing man I am learning more and more about what he was like before he became famous. Right after Lincoln was murdered Herndon realized what a giant he was and wanted to record as much as possible the testimony of those who knew him so that we and all of posterity would have the information before it was lost irretrievably. Thank you Billy for giving us this gift. Even though Lincoln did some things any politician would do early in his career his integrity shines through as with no other person I have ever read about. We were indeed blessed to have this great man at the most difficult crisis the US has weathered. We are also lucky to have had Billy Herndon recognize what an opportunity he had and the anecdotes and details of so many events flesh out Lincoln like nothing else could. What a wonderful example of what man is capable of being.
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on March 3, 2011
I've read a lot of Lincoln biographies in my time, and I would rate this as the best!! The reason I rate it so high is because, it comes straight from the mouth, and pen, of one of Lincoln's best friends. It gives not only his remembrances, but, he collected as many recollections as he could from ANYONE he could find that had any interactions with Lincoln. Although it tends to be written in the language of the time, it is still highly understandable and easy to read.
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on October 25, 2014
Herndon was a long-time law partner with Lincoln. He wrote the book 20 years after Lincoln's death. I enjoyed the perspective of someone who was closely associated with Lincoln. Since it was written that long ago, the jargon was somewhat of the times. My only negative comment was that the print in the book is very small.
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VINE VOICEon March 5, 2016
I've read a fair number of Lincoln biographies and have always wanted to delve into Herndon's work. It is the source for so much of the Lincoln story (mainly the early years) that this trip to the wellspring provides a fascinating perspective on the man by those who knew him best, longest and earliest.

Herndon undertook a great project after Lincoln's assassination. He set out to interview those closest to Lincoln, including those who knew him before Herndon and opened their law firm. The book relates the recollections of those who saw Lincoln as a young man and lawyer as well as Illinois power broker and president. Readers of the Lincoln story will see may tidbits and tales encountered in later works presented here in their original long form. This is a fascinating collection that any Lincoln fan will treasure.

The style of writing is in that of the 18th century and contains many letters of those asked by Herndon to recollect. As such, much of the book is history in the raw. But it is a fascinating journey and well worth the time for those who want to know Lincoln as well as we can this far removed from his life.
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on March 30, 2016
The version I received only contained 14 pages of the book. the table of contents list 20 chapters and 611 pages.
if you are looking to read Herndon's biography of Lincoln, this is not it.
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on April 21, 2015
Book arrived right on time and it's a great read. It's awesome to get the insight of someone who actually knew Abraham Lincoln.
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on February 18, 2015
Have not had time to read this book but I am looking forward to it.
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on June 18, 2016
A must read from a man who knew Lincoln better than most.
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on March 16, 2015
As expected.
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