- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (November 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743254708
- ISBN-13: 978-0743254700
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends Paperback – November 1, 2004
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Chicago Tribune It's unlikely that anyone today knows more about Lincoln than David Herbert Donald...."We Are Lincoln Men" bristles with erudition....This book contains much to entertain a broad popular audience.
Civil War Times A wise, provocative, and scrupulously judicious book that...probes insightfully into Lincoln's complex personality and ponders its impact on the Civil War era.
The New York Times Book Review Engaging...David Herbert Donald writes about Lincoln with unmatched authority....In short, he has given us a good book to read. He has also given us a good book to argue with.
The Washington Post Book World Enlightening...insightful...The portrait of Lincoln that emerges from the observations of those who knew him best....Donald writes with clarity and grace.
About the Author
David Herbert Donald is the author of We Are Lincoln Men, Lincoln, which won the prestigious Lincoln Prize and was on the New York Times bestseller list for fourteen weeks, and Lincoln at Home. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, for Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, and for Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe. He is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and of American Civilization Emeritus at Harvard University and resides in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
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Professor Donald has spent more than half a century studying Lincoln's life and times and is author of many books, including "Lincoln" (1995), widely regarded as the best one-volume life of the subject in decades. He's brought that lifetime of experience to this project, along with study and contemplation of the nature of friendship. Perhaps part of the reason Lincoln remains an enigma and a subject of endless fascination and study is that he never fully revealed himself to any other human being. However, Donald has identified relationships which were pivotal at various points in Lincoln's life, and if not representing a marriage of equals, did at least offer this solitary man some of the benefits of close comradeship. Yet time, physical distance and political differences eventually eroded these relationships.
The author examines his interactions with his one-time roommate, Joshua Speed; his long-time law partner, William Herndon; Illinois Senator Orville Browning; Secretary of State William Seward; and his personal secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay. Each met differing needs for Lincoln at various times in his life. They served as sounding boards for Lincoln's ideas, provided him with comfort in times of grief, laughter in times of stress, and support in times of crisis. Yet even these men couldn't claim to fully know the great man. Herndon once claimed to have been able to "read his secrets and ambitions" but also described him as a "profound mystery."
In his conclusion, Donald briefly considers the possibility of whether having a close, intimate confidant in the early, difficult days of his presidency might have saved Lincoln some of his hesitancy and missteps. He suggests this might have been the case, but is no means certain; for while Lincoln took some time to find the means to his ultimate goals, he always held firm to his guiding principles--containing, and if possible, abolishing slavery, and preserving the union.
A work of first-rate scholarship that's also a pleasure to read.--William C. Hall
Professor Donald goes into all the close friends Lincoln had. He examines the relationship with Speed, and lays the fact that Lincoln had a really close relationship with Speed.
He also examines his relationship with Browning, Herndon, Seward, his two presidential aides, and a bodyguard. Many others may have known Lincoln, but few knew him in a personal way. Lincoln was a very lonely man with plenty of burdens on him. It is a wonder he managed to guide the country through the Civil War without many personal relationships.
Donald examines all of Lincoln's close personal relationships. He disputes the present accusations that Lincoln was gay with good historical facts. This is a good read for those interested in the Civil War.
The book begins with a brief discussion of friendship, and presents Aristotle's basic typology of friendships ("enjoyable," "useful," and "perfect" or "complete"). The introductory chapter looks at Lincoln's boyhood and youth-concluding that "Lincoln never had a chum" and noting that "by temperament...Lincoln grew up as a man of great reserve."
The book then proceeds with chapter-length examinations of his six key friendships. Each was unique, in part because of the personalities involved and because of when the friendships first developed. While Joshua Speed and Lincoln were remarkably close as young men in Illinois-to the point where some have speculated that they might have had a homoerotic relationship (a point Duncan dismisses)-they grew apart primarily because of political differences as they aged. "Billy" Herndon, Lincoln's principal law partner and eventual biographer, remained in Lincoln's shadow for a variety of reasons, including his radicalism, his inability to get along with Mary Lincoln, and his alcoholism. Orville Browning, an Illinois Whig who was appointed to fill Stephen Douglas's unexpired US Senate term on Douglas's death, was an ally and confidant during the early years of Lincoln's Presidency; the two drifted apart partly because of Browning's importuning Lincoln for political appointments and partly because of growing political differences. Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, came into the Cabinet with a relatively low opinion of the President-Seward firmly believed that he should have been elected instead of Lincoln-but gradually grew into his closest ally and most loyal supporter in the Cabinet. Lincoln's two closest aides, John Nicolay and John Hay, were also loyal supporters. But partly because of the age difference-they were young enough to be his sons-they never grew out of the role of understudies to Lincoln and never became true confidants.
Despite its focus on these six men, the book also explores Lincoln's relationships with a variety of other figures, including Judge David Davis, who was instrumental in getting the Presidential nomination, and Ward Hill Lamon, a long-standing ally who often doubled as Lincoln's body guard. It is remarkably compact, just over 200 pages long, and can almost be read in a single sitting.