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Publisher's Summary

The first of a multivolume history of Lincoln as a political genius - from his obscure beginnings to his presidency, his assassination, and the overthrow of his post-Civil War dreams of Reconstruction. This first volume traces Lincoln from his painful youth, describing himself as "a slave", to his emergence as the man we recognize as Abraham Lincoln.

From his youth as a "newsboy", a voracious newspaper reader, Lincoln became a freethinker, reading Tom Paine as well as Shakespeare and the Bible and studying Euclid to sharpen his arguments as a lawyer.

Lincoln's antislavery thinking began in his childhood amid the primitive Baptist antislavery dissidents in backwoods Kentucky and Indiana, the roots of his repudiation of Southern Christian proslavery theology. Intensely ambitious, he held political aspirations from his earliest years. Obsessed with Stephen Douglas, his political rival, he battled him for decades. Successful as a circuit lawyer, Lincoln built his team of loyalists. Blumenthal reveals how Douglas and Jefferson Davis, acting together, made possible Lincoln's rise.

Blumenthal describes a socially awkward suitor who had a nervous breakdown over his inability to deal with the opposite sex. His marriage to the upper-class Mary Todd was crucial to his social aspirations and his political career. Blumenthal portrays Mary as an asset to her husband, a rare woman of her day, with strong political opinions. He discloses the impact on Lincoln's antislavery convictions when handling his wife's legal case to recover her father's fortune, in which he discovered her cousin was a slave.

Blumenthal's robust portrayal is based on prodigious research of Lincoln's record and of the period and its main players. It reflects both Lincoln's time and the struggle that consumes our own political debate.

©2016 Sidney Blumenthal (P)2016 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What listeners say about A Self-Made Man

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I Can't Wait for Volume II!

What an outstanding biography. Abraham Lincoln and the men and women who shared his life and times are as alive in this book as they can be. Most of the chapters I listened to several times before moving on because they were so dense with information. The narration by Arthur Morey was excellent.

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Excellent Book on the Early Life of Lincoln

I thought this was a great book. The book provides not just a biography of the early part of Lincoln's life but also sketches the historical, social, and political milieu needed to really understand 18th century American history, the roots of the Civil War, and the persistent racial conflicts in the USA. One comes away with a greater admiration for Lincoln's ultimate achievements. The parts of the book that focus on the intricacies of 18th century Whig party politics are a little boring if you are not a professional historian but the book provides great background information on John C. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, Andrew Jackson, and the Abolitionists. The narration is excellent.

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Waiting for Volume II on Audible

Where does A Self-Made Man rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is without doubt in my top 10.

What did you like best about this story?

It is not a narrative on the course of Lincoln's life. It is an examination of his evolution as a politician and his political philosophy. The book is the story of Lincoln's life in politics.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No I listen to all my audible books in the car coming and going from work.

Any additional comments?

Please make volume II available on Audible soon.

2 people found this helpful

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excellent book, wonderful narration

Great read! I learned many things about Mr Lincoln's life and early career that I did not know. The second volume is equally enthralling. I am hoping the publisher creates an audio edition of it with Mr Morey as the narrator.

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STELLAR review of history

I was expecting to get a semi-monotonous but thorough review of Lincoln’s life down to the tiny insignificant details. Instead I got a thorough and exciting review of American politics from the years 1824-48, and a detailed account of how it all shaped Lincoln. I can’t wait to read the next 2 books!