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Abraham Lincoln Audible – Unabridged

4.4 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Format: Paperback
Though it is dated in some of its facts and assessments,Lord Charnwoods classic study of Lincoln remains one of the dozen or so greatest books ever written about our greatest President.What sets it apart from most other studies of the sixteenth President is the attention it gives the intellectual and spiritual underpinnings of Lincoln's life and actions. It is, in short a work of philosophical history, not a dry recitation of facts. Charnwood is interested in the moral meaning of democracy and the scope and limits of democratic leadership. He performs his task beautifully. I , for one , found his old-fashioned Victorian prose a joy to read, and a relief from the cliche' ridden jargon that too often passes for literate prose today. A great book by a foriegn observer of America, fully worthy of being placed beside Tocqueville and Bryce.
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Format: Paperback
There is something about the British and their outlook towards American politics which is quite enjoyable. They bring a refreshing civility and admiration for political thought and history that is more often than not absent in today's North American biographers. In this biography of Lincoln Charnwood delves deep into the political atmosphere in which Lincoln rose to power and saw America through one of its most trying hours. The author delivers a deep sense of what a thoughtful and kind man that Lincoln was. It is an an unflinching look at Lincoln's spiritual side in which in comparison to today's commander-in-chief is quite startling for their similarities and differences.

His dissection of the politics of the era is simply fascinating. This is a book for anyone who has a keen apreciation of politics and history. Charnwood's unflinching directness in his portrayal of Lincoln leaves the reader with the sense that not only does the author have the deepest respect for Lincoln but that that Lincoln deserved every bit of it. My copy of this book is a beat up 1950's paperback I found in a thrift store to accompany me on a trip to Louisiana and I would recommend to anyone who can get their hands on one.
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Format: Paperback
Lord Charnwood's history of Lincoln and the American Civil War was intended for a British readership. So he explains America and American Law to the British. I just finished Stephen Oates' book on Lincoln, and I have to say, Lord Charnwood's effort stands up well by comparison.

Charnwood speaks to the central issue that was Lincoln: "As to the man, perhaps the sense will grow upon us that this balanced and calculating person, with his finger on the pulse of the electorate while he cracked his uncensored jests with all comers, did of set purpose drink and refill and drink again as full and fiery a cup of sacrifice as ever pressed to the lip of hero or saint." (page 167/168--Cardinal Edition, 1960) Lord Charnwood presented in those words an excellent summation of Lincoln.

It is easy to overlook the hit or miss of the Civil War. Had the 1859 election been between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, Douglass would have won with more than one million votes. And American History would have been vastly different. The Southern Generals outclassed the Northern General in tactics. The tide of war did not change until the July 1863 Southern defeat at the Battle of Vicksburg and the North taking control of the Mississippi; and when Lee tried an incursion into the North, only to be defeated by Meade in the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. With those two victories, Lincoln could run in the 1864 election on strength. Charwood writes: "But if McClellan had had all he demanded to take Richmond and had made good his promise, what would Lee have done? Lee's own answer to a similar question later was, "We would swap queens'; that is he would have taken Washington.
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Format: Paperback
Lord Charnwood's 1916 volume remains one of the finest portraits of Abraham Lincoln yet produced. Charnwood offers nuanced insight into Lincoln's mind and his character, probing much deeper and more convincingly than later authors were able. Charnwood's brief treatment of Lincoln's complicated religious faith (tied in with the section on the Second Inaugural Address) was particularly poignant.

I suggest William E. Gienapp's "Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America" (2002) for learners who are new to Lincoln or have lost touch with him since 9th grade history class. Gienapp synthesizes all the latest research and criticism within Lincolnian studies into a brief yet surprisingly thorough 240-page book.

After that, step up to Charnwood. It is truly great historical writing (almost literary in moments) and one of the best character studies published of a truly incredible human being.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lord Charnwood (Godfrey Benson) was a respected British scholar and politician, born the year before Lincoln's assassination. He was not born of nobility but was made a Baron by King George V in 1911, five years before this book was published. His scholarship is apparent in this impressive biography of Lincoln.

Although "Abraham Lincoln" was written by an Englishman for Englishmen (Charnwood's own words) and his admiration of Lincoln is apparent from the beginning, the book is an objective, fascinating history that Americans can appreciate. The book was written in the historical "sweet spot"- decades removed from the tragedy of the American Civil War and Lincoln's assassination but not so distant that memories had faded and historical records vanished. In fact, Lincoln's son Robert had just been named ambassador to England.

This is not a lightweight biography; but an intelligent, comprehensive look at not only Lincoln but also other great personalities of his times as well as US history. The second chapter of the book alone is an interesting history of the early US prior to Lincoln. Spending time to give context adds greatly to our understanding of the man.

Americans learn about Lincoln in grade school so it is not surprising that the stories of Lincoln tend to be simple. Later studies of American history focus more on the American Civil War and the fight to end slavery than Lincoln the man and his overall philosophies. As a result many of us have a child's view of Lincoln with a simple acceptance of him as an icon/hero. Lord Charnwood's biography gives us a deeper view of Lincoln the man, the politician, his core beliefs and personality. Charnwood shows a man of great intellect and ambition, who was remarkably pure of heart and crude of taste.
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