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The Portable Abraham Lincoln (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 27, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This abbreviated edition of Lincoln speeches, letters, and notes brings the man ready to hand. Drawn from the fuller Library of America collection (1989), this collection shows Lincoln at work in law, politics, and war. All the great Lincoln works are here, with the added bonus of several personal memos that show Lincoln's humor. Reviled in life but revered in death, Lincoln has become the singlemost important American public writer: his words recalling those "mystic chords of memory" that bind Americans to the Declaration of Independence as the seedbed for all definitions of freedom ring true today in a post-Cold War World. Larger libraries will prefer the fuller Lincoln editions for their shelves, and general readers will find much the same fare in the recent collection, Lincoln on Democracy ( LJ 10/15/91), compiled by Mario Cuomo, but Delbanco's intelligent selection will also help us "get right with Lincoln" and appreciate how the prairie lawyer became the poet of American democracy.
- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"[An] excellent, thoughtfully presented selection . . . The ironic intelligence and sharp sense of purpose, the wit, lucidity, and emotional force come through with an undiminished and chastening power to make us think and feel."
-Ric Burns, co-producer of PBS's The Civil War
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Bct edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105640
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Portable Abraham Lincoln is just that, a small book packed with nothing but Lincoln's words and ideas, from the famous debates with Stephen Douglas to his immortal 2nd Inaguaral Address.
Mixed throughout the speeches are letters, both public and private, which reveal his inner thoughts and animating philosophy. Included is his short and moving letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, featured in the movie Saving Private Ryan, which is the most eloquent expression of patriotic grief I have ever read.
The book is organized in themes, from his emergence of a polictian to his writings as Chief Executive and as Commander-in-Chief, and ending up with Fate.
This book is for people who want to go beyond the soundbytes featured in documentaries; it places those famous phrases in the context of the entire speech and the commentary is kept to a minimum, showing respect for the reader.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of documents in a sense tells the life- story of Lincoln. It consists primarily of letters but also contains communications of other kinds, including his great speeches. Lincoln's immense power with language, the depth of his feeling and insight, his quiet humor and his great imaginative sympathy are all on display here. Also of course his political wisdom, his detailed knowledge of local and national political affairs, his struggle in conducting the great Civil War.

There are certain people it simply an honor and uplifting to be in the presence of . Lincoln is such a person, and so these words of his inform and most often, inspire.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very good and readable collections of the major writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln. Unlike many collections of writings and speeches of that era, this is no dull melange of dated issues, but wisdom of the ages.

In one early piece, Lincoln waxes nostalgic by comparing the lethargy of his generation to the generation who fought in the Revolutionary war (talk about the "good old days" is nothing new). In an 1848 letter, he makes some stinging comments against the then-president's "lies" that got America into the Mexican War(sounds similar to modern complaints about you-know-who getting us involed in you-know-where).

Modern revisionists love to take scattered comments by Lincoln about Black people to show that Lincoln was a racist. Aspects of the Douglas debates and his mesage of colonization of 1862 do not deny this, but such people conveniently forget (or omit) Lincoln's evolution of thought as evidenced by the Second Inaugural Address (which also appears in its entirety at the Lincoln Memorial) and his statements about Black soldiers having the right to vote (in the 1860s, mind you). Some racist!

It is also important to remember that Lincoln wrote all of his own speeches and was largely self-educated! When you compare the quality of his speeches and writings to our soundbyte era, it is truly remarkable.

Read this book and become acquainted with greatness.
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Format: Paperback
There are several anthologies of selections from Abraham Lincoln's writings available. But The Portable Lincoln is my favorite among them. My copy is dog-eared, underlined, and scribbled on to such an extent that it now looks quite shabby. But this is as much a tribute to the wisdom of Lincoln's words and the judicious editorship of Andrew Delbanco as it is a sad monument to my hard treatment of books.

There are two main reasons why I find The Portable Lincoln so pleasing.

First, editor Delbanco (who's best known for his insightful work on American Puritans) prefaces the collection with an elegant and informative intellectual biography of Lincoln that prepares the way for a more informed reading of the selections. He also provides a useful chronology of Lincoln's life, and he introduces each of the book's six sections with prefatory remarks that put the selections in context.

Second, the selections themselves are carefully chosen and genuinely representative of Lincoln's thoughts in each of the six periods of his life from which they're drawn: his early years up to 1850; the pivotal "republican" years of 1854-1859; the presidential campaign, 1860; the early days of the war, 1860-1861; Lincoln the war president, late 1861-1864; and the reflective Lincoln, 1864-1865.
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I bought this book for a Political Science course at my university. My university's bookstore charged more for this particular book, so I was relieved when I found it on Amazon at a more reasonable price. The book arrived at my mailbox in time for the start of the course. I have kept the book and am happy with my purchase.
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A fine collection of Lincoln's writings. He's overshadowed too often by his myth, but the reader can meet Lincoln on the page. Excellent selection.
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