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The Life of Abraham Lincoln
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on December 17, 2010
My only regret is that I did not read this book earlier in life; in my formative years, so to speak. A history lesson I shall long savior. I often took for granted the life of our 16th President from the little learned in school or in a Hollywood synopsis. A copper penny, a five-dollar bill, was my only present recollection of this ancient being. But now, what a great man, I have found! The Life of Abraham Lincoln, by Henry Ketcham, though a book of antiquity is a work presently easily read. For any American who reads the biographies of great men in the hopes of learning some nugget to inspire, I highly recommend this E-Book. Let the following quote by J. G Holland sum up my feelings of Mr. Lincoln: "Conscience, and not expediency, not temporary advantage, not popular applause, not the love of power, was the ruling and guiding motive of his life. He was patient with his enemies, and equally patient with equally unreasonable friends. No hasty act of his administration can be traced to his impatience. He had a tender, brotherly regard for every human being; and the thought of oppression was torment to him. A statesman without a statesman's craftiness, a politician without a politician's meanesses, a great man without a great man's vices, a philanthropist without a philanthropist's impracticable dreams, a Christian without pretensions, a ruler without the pride of place and power, an ambitious man without selfishness' and a successful man without vanity."
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on April 29, 2009
Growing up in Illinois I learned a great deal about Lincoln. I even built a scale model of his home from a photograph. But I never learned who the man was, the sense of what he would like to talk to, or as a neighbor. This book filled that void in my eduacation, a void that looks even more important in hindsight. I understood the important decisions Lincoln had made and knew the dates he had made them. But I never had been told why he made those decisions and had been so firm in his support of them. It had always bothered me to be told someone was great because they had made great decisions. But in this book we don't meet the famous Lincoln written about in today's history books. In this book we met Lincoln as a contemporary of the author. We meet the man Henry Ketcham knew. And it is through his words that I finally got a sense of the man behind all those great decisions.

Ketcham wrote this book only decades after Lincoln's death but in that time society and technology had both changed a bit. For example, he mentions how as a result of growing up earlier and on the frontier that Lincoln had not had such modern conveniences as gas lights in his home or sidewalks and paved roads. I got a sense of just how rapidly technology was affecting society even then. And it struck me even more powerfully than seeing the mock-ups of frontier homes had. If Lincoln's childhood had seemed rough to someone who thought gas lights were advanced he truly had it hard. And the description of the house being open along one side had not made it into any of the books I had previously read. I cannot imagine what winter must have been like for that family.

When the inevitable ending comes it does so with more sorrow for what a man we lost, not just a president but a person. He had held himself to a very high standard while being compassionate enough to understand if others could not manage to hold themselves to the same. He forgave others their weaknesses but strove to strengthen himself. And he enjoyed a good book more than most while still able to tell a funny story well when it came to be his turn. His heart had been broken but he worked to give what he could of what was left.

I really feel as if I have only now met the real Abraham Lincoln. And if you read only one book about him, this should be that one.
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on April 9, 2017
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on April 2, 2017
This was a great read. I have read a biography of Lincoln before but this one was different. I don't know when this was published but it appears it was not all that long after the civil war. It seems like this author actually had talked to people of the time. He had two older brothers who served (I'm assuming as soldiers) under Lincoln. It just gives a really good insight into the character of Lincoln and things that were happening during the war. Very interesting, easy read.
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on July 29, 2015
I had been wanting to read a book on Abraham Lincoln for quite a long time and after looking around and seeing how many of them are out there, I was dumbfounded at where to begin. Also, I will be visiting Abe's hometown of Springfield, Illinois soon and wanted to freshen up on his history.

When I found THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, I decided that it would be a good starting point for two reasons. First, because it was written in 1901, I figured it would be neat to read a book from closer to when it actually happened and is free in the Kindle Store!

Going all the way back to his childhood in Elizabethtown, Ky and concluding after his assassination, THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN gives the reader a rundown of the entire life of one of the greatest presidents to ever have lived. Having not known much at all about his life, this book was very educational to me. To hear about the honesty, kindness and unwavering determination was quite inspiring. And also the constant danger and threat that he was under, during his presidency, for being such a radical and forward thinking president, was eye opening.

The only real downside to the book was its overt praise of Abe, to the point of almost making him out to be a divined prophet. Not that he wasn't a good and noble man, but author Henry Ketcham so praises Abe that you would think he actually walked on water. It would have been nice to hear even a hint of objectivity.

Being written in 1901 also make the book a little slower to read for me. The language was so different then, that I had to read at a slower than normal pace, to really take it all in.

At right around 250 pages, a lot is mentioned in this book and reading this also has made me want to read a more thorough and in depth biography on Abe.

If you are looking for a book on Abe that is going to give you a good summary of all he did in his life, I would suggest this as a good starting point; it's well written and you can't beat FREE! I give this one 4/5!
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on June 12, 2016
This is the book about Abraham Lincoln that you need to read! Henry Ketcham gives details about Lincoln that are more enlightening, and he backs up his details with documents, letters and testimonials. He gives an extremely descriptive knowledge of the era Lincoln was born into, the politics of the era in both Washington and Illinois, and a very vivid and documented exploration of Lincoln, his character, his wisdom and his political astuteness. The book is not lengthy but right on target to give an encyclopedic knowledge of who Lincoln was and how he saved the Union. It was factual, descriptive, insightful and well documented. Carl Sandburg's biography is great and very detailed and informative, but this book was more succinct with the same result. It's a great book for high school students and above who are looking for a succinct but complete essence of who Lincoln really was, what he thought, what motivated him and how he managed to unite the entire country at one of the most crucial points in our history. We needed Washington and the Founding Fathers to begin our country, but without Lincoln there would not have continued to be our country. It is a story for our day, too, as we see how the government is often involved in politics to the detriment of the people just as we have in today's government.
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on September 25, 2016
Henry Ketcham wrote to capture the magnitude of the life of Abraham Lincoln. As our 16th President, he was the heart of a divided nation, our leader in repenting as a nation of one of our greatest collective sins, that of with holding the gift of freedom from millions who were instead brought here and born here only to know the shackles of slavery. Here, where we declared to the world that All Men Are Created Equal, we forced a group of us to labor under an awful whip. Lincoln, as shown by this book of Ketcham, grew up in the western wilderness that embraced and supported slavery, mostly, and became a voice of reason and a friend of the oppressed. I echo one citizen, at his death who stated, Who gave Shakesphear and Mozart their talents? God, God, and only God and the same for Lincoln. Thank Henry Ketcham for this insight into a life of greatness, thus displayed so that others may understand and maybe be able to copy the example of such a great man.
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on August 24, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know President Lincoln through Ketcham's intelligent, thoughtful style. The author does a good job of presenting Lincoln's many virtues while still showing his mistakes. Lincoln is a man to be studied and emulated, and this is a great pace to start.
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This is a very well written history of President Lincoln.

I learned a number of things about the President that I hadn't heard.

Examples - I didn't know that when he was six, he had a brother who died. The first woman he loved died, and it clearly affected him for the rest of his life (as you would expect).

Almost half of the biography covers Lincoln's life before the Civil War. You'll hear about Lincoln's first encounter with the sale of slaves. His goal in running for Senator against Stephen Douglas (not what you would expect).

The author also discusses Fremont, McClellan and Horace Greeley in relation to Lincoln.

Really well done - and you get a feel for this man and the role in history that he didn't ask for.

Specifically about this Kindle edition - if optimized, it would have been nice to add the pictures also.

Please note - if you want details of the marriage of President Lincoln, this isn't the place for it. The author doesn't think those on the outside know the true story, so he doesn't go into details. He does explain his views, though.
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on March 21, 2017
Oh, that we could have such a man as president these days! I suppose politics have always been cut-throat, so, it is amazing a gentle giant emerges to save the Union.

Written in the prose of the time, but worth reading all the same.
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