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Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln Audio, Cassette – Abridged, July, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Between 1831 and 1842, Abraham Lincoln was transformed from an impoverished, unsuccessful young man of 22 into a highly regarded attorney and member of the Illinois House of Representatives, while developing the self-esteem, kindness, and political shrewdness that would make him America's most beloved president. Wilson, director of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, has written extensively on Lincoln and offers here a fascinating inquiry into his character development. Despite the lack of reliable first-person accounts about the president's life, the author has pulled together informative narratives of Lincoln's politics, education, and troublesome relations with women, especially his arduous courtship of Mary Todd, whom he married in 1842. Lincoln is vividly portrayed as a man riddled by self-doubts and anxiety that challenged his mental stability on more than one occasion. His marriage, however troubled, allowed Lincoln to develop a sense of honor essential for his future political triumphs. Not a comprehensive biography, this book will nevertheless be warmly welcomed by Lincoln scholars and enthusiasts.?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From The New Yorker

This biography ... offers a vivid sense of this country as it was. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Audio Literature; Abridged edition (July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574532545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574532548
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,333,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Teachers in criminal justice classes, I am told, often stage mock crimes in their classrooms. In the middle of a lecture, for example, a bandit will barge in, threaten the students, and make off with the professor's wallet. The students, at first shocked but then relieved when told that it was a staged event, are then asked to describe the event. What did the suspect look like? How tall was he? What color hair did he have? What was he wearing? What did he say? Invariably, there are multiple answers to those questions. People saw different things. No one version of what occurred is totally accurate.
Wilson's book confronts that perennial problem of human perception. Though his 'transformation of Lincoln' plows familiar ground - how one solitary, unschooled backwoods man transformed himself into a national, albeit polarizing figure, through willpower, endurance, ambition, guts, and brains - his careful forensic method, as judge and jury of a multitude of competing facts and interpretations, makes this book a compelling tale, as much about how history is written as it is about how Lincoln evolved.
And this is why I disagree with the reviews that describe this book as long-winded, tough-sledding and over-detailed. In Honor's Voice, Wilson provides a valuable glimpse into the historian's bag of tricks. Wilson takes each of the iconic moments of Lincoln's life - his storied wresting match with Jack Armstrong, his self-education, his disastrous romance with Ann Rutledge - and peels apart the layers, examining the historical record as closely as possible, evaluating the claims of eyewitnesses and second-hand sources, and holding each up to scrutiny before making any assertions; and even then, he is admirably cautious.
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Format: Paperback
The bad points first...
Being a Linoln buff myself, but certainly not a scholar on the subject, I found this book to be a worthwhile addition to my library but one that is seriously flawed. The first chapter goes into painstaking detail about Lincoln's wrestling match with Jack Armstrong in New Salem. I think a wrestling historian would find it more useful than someone interested in our 16th president. Endless second and third-hand accounts of the match are analyzed in detail. And for what? No reliable conclusions can be drawn from these contradictory accounts. The first chapter could have been summarized in two words...who knows? And I'm not really sure who cares either. I found this chapter to be a bit bizarre.
My other criticism of the book is that it is very poorly organized, in my opinion. In fact, only the first chapter sticks to the topic of it's title. The rest of the book seems to be organized into chapters only for the purpose of giving the reader a needed break from the tedium. Sure, you will find something about Lincoln's relationship with women in the chapter entitled, "Women," but you will find just as much about this subject in just about any other chapter. And you will learn about his politics in the chapter about women, etc. It almost seems as if Mr. Wilson just pinned a title to the top of a page now and then without regard to what followed. This lack of structure also results in a great deal of repetition. The same quotes are repeated again and again and again which would not have been necessary if each chapter stuck with it's title subject. One hopes that this lack of organization is not a reflection of Mr. Wilson's research skills.
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Format: Paperback
I have read several books on Lincoln and admire him as the greatest American that ever lived. This book was worth my effort because I did learn much about Lincoln's young adulthood. I did not find the book pleasing to read, however, because of the author's excessive reliance on original quotes from primary sources. Though this makes the book scholarly, it does not make it entertaining. The author spends too much time on Lincoln's love life and practically nothing on the origins of his philosophy. Though I am left knowing more about Lincoln the man, I am still searching for the answer to the single question for which I bought the book: how did this man of humble origins, beset by more than the usual number of human frailties, evolve into the American Messiah, the savior of the nation and its most honorable principles for the benefit of all civilization? Other than feebly suggesting that Lincoln's opposition to cruelty to animals might have eventually caused him to sympathize with the plight of slaves, this book leaves this mystery of American history to future writers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wilson opens "Honor's Voice" with an overly long introduction to his methodology, which, in brief, is to sort through all the bits and tales and legends about Abraham Lincoln from age 22 to 33, and weighing the stories for credibility and accuracy, reach the truest picture of the young man. Because there is no shortage of material, Wilson has focused on ten themes, including how he educated himself, how he entered politics, his relations with women, and particularly with Mary Todd, etc.
The problem is that it's not clear for whom Wilson is writing. Wilson himself declares that the book is not for academics, but who else would be interested in a work that is less about Lincoln than about stories about Lincoln? Few of the legion Lincoln fans, save scholars, would have the interest or the patience for a tedious historiography and word-by-word analysis of obscure letters and notes about the life of their subject. For example, the first chapter examines a wrestling match Lincoln had at age 22, and fully describes the match and its significance in three interesting pages. The problem is the chapter goes of for 33 pages, citing dozens of sources, including eyewitnesses as well as later biographers, analyzes differences in their accounts of the match, and weighs them against each other for credibility. This approach may be a useful "how to" for amateur historians, but most readers would likely prefer more history and less methodology.
Fortunately, the first chapter is the toughest sledding. The subsequent ones follow the same pattern, but are far more readable, relying less on Wilson's interior dialogues on reliability and veracity.
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