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Lincoln's Melancholy Audiobook
Lincoln's Melancholy
Written by: 
Joshua Wolf Shenk
Narrated by: 
Richard M. Davidson
Lincoln's Melancholy Audiobook

Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

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Publisher's Summary

Drawing on a wealth of his own research and the work of other Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success. Lincoln found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation's worst crisis in the "coping strategies" he developed over a lifetime of persevering through depressive episodes and personal tragedies.

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

What the Critics Say

"This is sensitive history, with important implications for the present." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    chris las vegas, NV, United States 09-09-10
    chris las vegas, NV, United States 09-09-10
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    "Hands down awesome"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Beaufort, NC 04-25-10
    Jim Beaufort, NC 04-25-10 Member Since 2011
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    "Well handled subject"

    The author has handled this subject well. Overall however the book could stand some editing. The topic is covered too well and often redundantly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline 06-14-09
    Caroline 06-14-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "fascinating"

    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!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 06-08-16
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 06-08-16

    But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Man is born broken. He lives by mending."

    "Don't you find", he said, "judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrow?"
    - A young Circassian rider to Leo Tolstoy, when presented with a photograph of Abraham Lincoln (originally told by Leo Tolstoy toe the New York World shortly before Tolstoy died

    Abraham Lincoln has reached one of those levels of recognition and reverence that is typically reserved for saints and prophets. His character, linked to his words and his dramatic life and death, all contribute to a continued and massive interest. A Wall Street Journal article on the Lincoln publishing industry noted:

    16,000: Number of books publishers estimate have been written about Abraham Lincoln.
    5,796: Number of Lincoln biographies
    249: Number of biographies on Lincoln published in 2009, the bicentennial of his birth
    42: Number of books Harold Holzer, a Lincoln historian, has written, edited, or co-edited on the 16th president
    2,972: Number of biographies of George Washington

    I understand the attraction a bit more than most. I own several dozen Lincoln books and biographies, I am six feet six inches tall, walk with an awkward gate, and also suffer from a disease that Abe Lincoln is thought by many to have had (Marfan Syndrome, see page 22 of this book). I share many physical proximities and many intellectual affinities with Lincoln (a love of politics, poetry, humanism, individualism, justice, and an affection for the Godly and a skepticism of the dogma of those who profess to speak for God). Anyway, I have been curious about this book for years.

    'Lincoln's Melancholy' attempts to: (1) investigate how "Lincoln's melancholy manifested itself in his early life and young manhood and how it fits--and challenges--the diagnostic categories of modern psychiatry", (2) show "what Lincoln did in response to his melancholy, the strategies he used to heal and help himself", and (3) address "how Lincoln's melancholy became intertwined with his mature character, ideas, and actions". It is a three act play, a hero's journey complete with crisis, struggle, and resolution/spiritual awakening.

    Shenk doesn't sketch a perfect picture. There are many gaps and contradictions and mysteries that will always surround a true inquiry into the inner Lincoln. I think, however, the author was humble enough to understand the limits of his efforts. The book was short enough to not waste time and interesting enough to keep me reading. I think his theory of Lincoln's melancholy is fascinating. It further complicates the story of a complicated, beautiful, and sad man who just may have ended up by fortune and misfortune being one of the greatest of all men.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. 04-23-15
    Dr. 04-23-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Lincoln's Melancholy"

    I really enjoyed this book!! Even GREAT men can have shortfalls & STILL be great!!! They can become icons in our culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail Centennial, CO, United States 03-13-15
    Gail Centennial, CO, United States 03-13-15 Member Since 2011

    Book Woman

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    "New information on Lincoln the man."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary A. Madsen 07-27-14 Member Since 2016

    I read, I write, I paint and enjoy photography. Is there supposed to be more?

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    "A Different Perspective On A Great Man"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MasterMarquette Palm Springs, CA United States 10-24-12
    MasterMarquette Palm Springs, CA United States 10-24-12

    Karim Marquette

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Must For Anyone Who Has Suffered from Depression"
    What did you love best about Lincoln's Melancholy?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned that even great men such as Lincoln have suffered from depression. That depression can actually enhance one's life experience.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WILLIAM 10-24-12
    WILLIAM 10-24-12 Member Since 2010
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    "You learn something new everyday!"

    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.
    Enjoy-
    Well recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LucyLu 12-23-11
    LucyLu 12-23-11 Member Since 2010

    Non-fiction, fiction--I read widely. Except bodice rippers. I'd rather pull my own eyelashes out than read romance. Avid, happy reader.

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    "Fascinating listen"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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