In the best-selling tradition of Truman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Herbert Donald offers a new classic in American history and biography - a masterly account of how one man's extraordinary political acumen steered the Union to victory in the Civil War, and of how his soaring rhetoric gave meaning to that agonizing struggle for nationhood and equality.
Donald spent 50 years studying Lincoln, tracing his rise from humble origins to the pinnacle of the presidency. He reveals the development of the future president's character and shows how Lincoln's enormous capacity for growth enabled one of the least experienced men ever elected to high office to become a giant in the annals of American politics. And he depicts a man who was basically passive by nature, yet ambitious enough to take enormous risks and overcome repeated defeats.
Much more than a political biography, Lincoln seats us behind the desk of a president who was both a master of ambiguity and expediency and a great moral leader, as he makes the decisions that preserved the Union and shaped modern America.
©2011 David Herbert Donald (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
"A grand work - the Lincoln biography for this generation." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
"Lincoln immediately takes its place among the best of the genre, and it is unlikely that it will be surpassed in elegance, incisiveness and originality in this century.... A book of investigative tenacity, interpretive boldness and almost acrobatic balance." (Chicago Tribune)
"Eagerly awaited, Lincoln fulfills expectations. Donald writes with lucidity and elegance." (The Atlantic)
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is, at times, a dry and technical read and at other times becomes touching or funny. Overall I was very satisfied. This biography of Lincoln seems to be quite unbiased and follows the facts wherever they lead. The author tries to present a history based upon what Lincoln actually knew at the time, leaving out facts that we now know, but Lincoln had no way of knowing. This book has a lot of peripheral information that places other historical facts in context (for example how big Lincoln’s house was compared with the average in the area). This history presents Lincoln as a hero, but as an imperfect, ambiguous, and human hero. Although this was a bit of a less fun read then Team of Rivals, overall I found this the more satisfying history.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a more indepth presentation of the history of Lincoln's time and the context of that time. I finished "Team of Rivals" prior to this book and found the greater extent of "Lincoln" to round out my understanding of the historical context for what caused the actions to play out as they did.
I think it is very complementary to "Team of Rivals" and the book I am reading now "Battle Cry of Freedom". I think "Team of Rivals" was more of "story" whereas "Lincoln" offers a more comprehensive insight beyond the personalities of the Administration.
There were times where the quality of the recording demonstrated post editing.
I don't think you could make this much of a detailed presentation into a film...it would require a historic documentary and might miss the strength of the work.
I enjoyed the book very much and appreciated the way in which the book was developed to provide the details it offered.
This is an excellent book. It is a political biography that takes you through Lincoln's political career. I thought the author had a very unique way of approaching the subject -- by putting the reader (for the most part) in the position of Lincoln as he was making decisions -- making it clear what Lincoln would have known at various points instead of incorporating a historical view onto events. The political aspect of this cannot be over-emphasized. This is not a book on military strategy.
I enjoy passionate narrators. Great content is also a good thing.
I have to say that the bland narration from the beginning left me wanting to stop. The only reason why I continued was because of the content of the book.
Not only was the narrator bland but at times there were cut ins and these short clips were worse than the original narrator. Although I did get used to the narrator maybe it was because of the book.
The book itself was good. This book left me wanting to know more about the civil war. Also, this book didn't make Lincoln in to a larger than life figure but human with errors.
I would listen to Lincoln again because of the due diligence, detail, and thoughtful editorial comments. The latter were particularly helpful during the Washington war years as Lincoln managed the conservatives versus the radicals.
Isaacson's Ben Franklin
The early Salem and Springfield descriptions were very well done.
The Man Understood the Big Picture
The only thing that kept this book from being a '5' was that their could have been more analysis of the relationships, which Lincoln managed so well. Indeed, Lincoln's 'superpower' was his ability to manage people.
This is an average biography of Lincoln. David Donald doesn't really bring him to life, and there are surprisingly few references to original sources.
The book was not helped by the awful reader- Dick Estell. His voice is completely monotonous and he seems not to understand what he's reading. He mispronounces several words including sycophant, zouave, and Vallandigham. It's a poor performance.
Writer of The Majick Series
This book is a bit sub par.
This is the first I have listened to by David Herbert Donald. It was more like a text book with some narration added for filler.
It seemed to be read by multiple people. I attribute this to the editing and mastering of the audio and not the performance.
Certainly not. Very boring at times due to the style in which it was written. But it was very informative and had some good lessons in placing the political and social climate into context with why certain decisions were made.
The book is a good history lesson. It should not be sold as a biography. It was good as a history lesson but not, in my opinion as a way to get a better insight into President Lincoln.
"A very thorough biography"
It is obvious that a lot of serious research has gone into writing this biography, and I have enjoyed getting innumerable little unexpected insights into the person behind the statesman.
The thoroughness, however, also means that the biography contains rather long stretches of information that I did not find interesting or to be contributing much to my understanding of the character of Lincoln.
The parts that I found most interesting concerned his upright moral character, insisting on reimbursing other people's loss without any legal obligation to do so - and then fulfilling his pledge at considerable personal and financial cost. Also, the way he learned from numerous mistakes when trying to conduct the war, often being rather too patient with generals of questionable will or ability to act, is compelling "reading".
Finally, his sense of loyalty to subordinates who tried to carry out his instructions (rather than orders) impressed me - even when they failed dismally. All paint the picture of a man of unusual integrity, of unsurpassed desire to learn from his mistakes, and of a selfless gentleness that should be challenge to every one of us.
The narrator's voice changes considerably (is it the same narrator or were parts recorded in a different studio later on?) in a few places, which I have not noticed in any other audio books. Not a problem, just different!
I do recommend this book, but intricate details of party organisation and hordes of less-than-central politicians could have been omitted, in my opinion.
"Long but very extensive and amazingly inspiring"
The definitive work on Lincoln, from birth to assassination, truly inspiring and moving account of the man who much surely be the best president america has ever had. The only downside to the book is the narration is a little dull, and it is a bit obvious where the breaks and edits where. Well worth a listen if you have the time (very long!).
"David Herberts Lincoln"
I really enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it to anyone.
Even though it is a very long audiobook it keeps you engaged and interested and Lincoln's life story is so completely amazing and inspiring you will be totally addicted to this audiobook I was, I even listened to it again one month later.
"Worthy but dull"
Oh dear, I have tried listening to this several times but the narrator has a really monotonous voice. How the author made such an interesting character as Lincoln this dull I don't know. I tend to play it when I can't sleep and before I know it.......zzzzzz.
"The world of Abraham Lincoln opens up beautifully"
The day after seeing 'Lincoln' in the cinema, I bought this audio book. It is superb. An extremely thorough biography from Abraham Lincoln's early life through to his assassination... in a very enjoyable and easy 30 hours. The author spent decades researching his subject and it shows in the detail. It's also clear that he left out a lot of extraneous information, so it is never boring. I thoroughly recommend this insight into one of the great men of the modern world.
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