With empathy and authority gained from his own experience with depression, Shenk crafts a nuanced, revelatory account of Lincoln and his legacy, and in the process unveils a wholly new perspective on how our greatest president guided America through its greatest turmoil.
Listen to Joshua Wolf Shenk talk about Lincoln's Melancholy on The Bob Edwards Show.
©2005 Joshua Wolf Shenk; (P)2005 HighBridge Company
"This is sensitive history, with important implications for the present." (Publishers Weekly)
I almost didn't buy this because the sample on here sounded a little shoddy. However, I am glad I bought it and would say the actual audio is superb. I enjoyed the narrator and the content of this book stunned me at every turn. It is a great book for anyone who has struggled through depression and asked themselves, 'is the answer to my problems in a pill, or in channeling my pain into something more powerful and meaningful'? It is for anyone who likes Lincoln and to learn about History. One of the best audio's I've ever listened to. I'm buying 5 in print editions for friends this Christmas.
I found this book to be very informative--things I never knew about Lincoln and the demons he dealt with all of his life. The author implements current medical knowledge to explain the torture Lincoln's mind endured during a time when not much was known about depression. Well worth the listen!
I learned a lot about Lincoln's personal life and trials. His depression and possible bipolar problems make his achievements even that more remarkable. His use of humor to make himself feel better reminded me of Robin Williams and helped me understand Robin's suicide a little better. Not anything I ever would have thought of. This is a very insightful book and I think would be appreciated by anyone interested in Lincoln.
I read, I write, I paint and enjoy photography. Is there supposed to be more?
This book made me re-think everything I know about Lincoln and melancholy. Perhaps the great become great because of their melancholy, rather than in spite of it. There's a depth of perception that can't help but bring about a dampening of spirits, but that doesn't mean one gives up or lose their determination to make the world a better place. I enjoyed every part of this book--the story, the uncovering of new information, the narration--and wouldn't mind listening to it again. The subject of this biography is one that is loved the more times one reads about his life and experience.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
This book asks a question which isn't answered: was Lincoln depressed because he was astoundingly empathetic, or was he empathetic because he was depressed? It's a question that can't be answered, at least at this point in time, but it's certainly worth the discussion.
I think that this book is worthy of the read, even without knowing much of Lincoln's background, although I can't vouch for that - I spent part of my childhood in Illinois, and I didn't even have to imagine Lincoln's Springfiled home. I just had to think back on a fourth grade field trip.
I was surprised to realize that severe depression - "melancholy" - was not hidden in Lincoln's time. His friends knew when he went into melancholy, and organized watches and care. It would be called "intervention" now, or maybe he'd be on a 5150 hold in California. It's interesting to think that one of the foundations of his personality was accepted in the 19th century, but so hidden and shameful now that he would never have become President. The stigma of severe depression is lifting somewhat now - for example Jesse Jackson Jr. was re-elected, even with the illness - but it hasn't happened yet.
I finished this book several months ago, and from time to time, I think over the unanswered question. That is the mark of a great book - one that stays in your mind long after it is done.
I do have a criticism of the author's style - sometimes Joshua Wolf Shrenk goes down a tangled, winding path in discussing the psychology, and it's easy to forget the point he is trying to make. I had to rewind several times to figure that out.
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It truly amazed me to learn that Lincoln suffered from acute depression. I could identify with many experiences he had related to depression. It was also beneficial to learn that to be melancholic in Lincoln's day could be perceived as a virtue. It certainly doesn't have the stigma it has today.
I learned that even great men such as Lincoln have suffered from depression. That depression can actually enhance one's life experience.
Absolutely great! Very important read for anybody who thinks they know everything
about our greatest President and anybody who wishes to learn about mental illness.
The book is told in sort of a lecture like presentation but then after a few minutes, you feel as if the writer( Mr. Shenk ) and the narrator (Mr. Davidson) are talking to YOU personally.
I listened to this every day on my way to work and hated when I arrived there. Couldn't wait to head home, to get back into this wonderful book.
Non-fiction, fiction--I read widely. Except bodice rippers. I'd rather pull my own eyelashes out than read romance. Avid, happy reader.
Wow--what an interesting book! This is the first book I've read about Lincoln, and it made me want to read more. If you suffer from depression, or know someone who does, there's something pretty inspiring about this book, as it really shows some of the positive traits associated with depression along with the difficulties. It doesn't seem to overstep what is known about Lincoln, and doesn't come off like psycho-babble at any point.
I love an engaging, nonfiction story that leaves me learning something new, and this definitely fits the bill. Highly recommend!
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