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A. Lincoln: A Biography Paperback – May 4, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this excellent biography, veteran historian White emphasizes that Lincoln was our most likable major president, lacking Washington's aloofness and the deviousness of FDR and Jefferson. Many young men from the frontier overcame the handicaps of poverty and minimal education, but, White says, Lincoln did better than most, becoming floor leader in the Illinois legislature by age 30 and a prosperous lawyer. Contrary to the common view that Lincoln was a dark-horse for the 1860 presidential nomination after a single, undistinguished term in the House of Representatives, White stresses that Lincoln was an experienced politician, popular throughout Illinois, and known to national leaders. Few Republicans thought they had chosen badly. The author makes good use of Lincoln's voluminous private papers and those of his contemporaries to paint a vivid picture of Lincoln's thoughts as he matured and then guided the nation through the four worst years of its existence. White knows his subject cold and writes lucid prose, so readers choosing this as their Lincoln bicentennial reading will not go wrong. Illus., maps, photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Having already written two books on Abraham Lincoln, Ronald C. White, Jr., understands better than most the challenges in bringing a fresh perspective to the most scrutinized president in American history. With 16,000 books, and counting, on Lincoln (as well as several dozen more in the period before the bicentennial celebration of his birth), the ground that remains to be covered is disappearing before scholars' eyes. But White, who draws on his own thorough research of the recently available Lincoln Legal Papers and plenty of other new material, stakes his turf. His weighty, yet readable, tome compares favorably to the popular histories of Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals) and David McCullough (John Adams, Truman, The Great Bridge), making A. Lincoln a fine and useful addition to the growing canon of Lincolniana.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812975707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812975703
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

212 of 223 people found the following review helpful By Cory Geurts on January 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a refreshing read and pleasant experience this book is. Mr. White has the ability to convey so much information in an intelligent yet clear and easy-to-understand style. White takes the time to explain words or concepts that otherwise would send most readers to the dictionary. He couples this friendly presentation with all of the complexity and coverage of any other well-written presidential biography.

The author obviously possesses a wide-ranging and thorough knowledge of President Lincoln, his times and his presidency. As a biographical text about Abraham Lincoln, White's "A. Lincoln" provides great detail without sacrificing the larger picture.

Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" is an excellent book about the history of and inner-workings of Lincoln and his cabinet - and I highly recommend her book. But White's "A. Lincoln" simply blows "Team of Rivals" out of the water in terms of being a well-focused yet richly detailed historical biography.

Here are a few things I didn't see mentioned in the editorial reviews praising this book: White liberally shares photographs, maps, illustrations, documents, even signatures of key characters. Unlike many history/biography books, these are not confined to a few glossy pages in the middle of the book, but appear frequently throughout the text, and really help give depth to the places, events, people, and times. This book includes an extensive notes section, the most thorough bibliography I've ever seen in a single-volume biography, and a 28-page index.

If you visit this book on randomhouse.com, you can find a link to Mr. White's personal web site. On his website, I found Mr. White's Speaking Dates calendar, which includes a visit here (Portland, Oregon) next week at the Oregon Historical Society. I will be there and I am looking forward to meeting and hearing from Mr. White.
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read somewhere around twenty to thirty books on Lincoln (along with FDR one of my two favorite American presidents) and this easily ranks among the very best that I have read. This is the one biography that I have read that competes with David Herbert Donald's volume as the best single-volume biography of Lincoln. It joins the short list of my favorite Lincoln books, including Doris Kearns Goodwin's A TEAM OF RIVALS, Allen C. Guelzo's ABRAHAM LINCOLN: REDEEMER PRESIDENT, Herndon's LINCOLN, William Lee Miller's LINCOLN'S VIRTUES, Mark Noll's THE CIVIL WAR AS A THEOLOGICAL CRISIS, the sections in Shelby Foote's THE CIVIL WAR on Lincoln, Gore Vidal's LINCOLN (actually an amazingly accurate depiction of Lincoln as president -- David Herbert Donald worked closely with Vidal to assure the novel's historical veracity), David Herbert Donald's LINCOLN, James McPherson's TRIED BY WAR, the Library of America two-volume collection of Lincoln's writings (I'd love the new three-volume edition, but for now I'm stuck with the older one), and Harold Holzer's IN HIS OWN HAND. All of these books provide new insights into Lincoln, but White's biography might actually provide the finest overview of Lincoln's life, even surpassing Oates, Donald, and Benjamin Thomas as the best single-volume biography.

The biography not only does an outstanding job of recounting all of the major events of Lincoln's life but does one of the best jobs I've ever seen of analyzing the logic of his speeches, letters, and public documents. This is no minor achievement. Lincoln is far and away the most analyzed figure in American history, in fact the most widely written about figure of the past two hundred years of any country (with the possible exception of Karl Marx).
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84 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Skip on February 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
`A. Lincoln' by Ronald C. White Jr.

In this extremely well researched and superbly readable biography, Ronald White brings our 16th US President to life with clarity rarely seen among contemporary biographers. Beginning with a breakdown of the subjects family tree - a family tree, I may add, with branches that remained a mystery to Lincoln during his lifetime - through his congressional, senatorial and finally a remarkable presidential campaign. `Father Abraham' comes to life with vivid imagery of his time spent logically analyzing matters, which in retrospect, were monumental in our nations history. Lincoln's compassion, integrity and honesty shine through clearly in his relationships with cabinet members, old friends such as Joshua Speed and luminaries like Frederick Douglass. Mr. White does a splendid job demonstrating the near dazzling likeability this president possessed; rarely, if ever, did a political friend or foe find Lincoln anything but gracious, kind and magnanimous in most trying of times.

The second half of this book deals with Lincoln's presidency and devotes significant time to his prosecution of the Civil War. Family life takes somewhat of a backseat in the latter 250 or so pages as this time is spent with Lincoln formulating policy and self-educating on military strategy. However, family tragedies are examined and the effect these events had on the Lincoln family are discussed and analyzed.

`A. Lincoln' is an absolutely spellbinding read that I found near impossible to put down. It is as entertaining as it is educational, as comprehensive as it is compelling. Definitely pick it up and enjoy each and every page. Wonderful!
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