• Lincoln in Private

  • What His Most Personal Reflections Tell Us About Our Greatest President
  • By: Ronald C. White
  • Narrated by: Ronald C. White
  • Length: 4 hrs and 56 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Lincoln in Private

By: Ronald C. White
Narrated by: Ronald C. White
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Publisher's Summary

“A fascinating tour inside the mind - and the heart - of Abraham Lincoln.... An important and timeless work.” (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of His Truth Is Marching On)

From the New York Times best-selling author of A. Lincoln and American Ulysses, a revelatory glimpse into the intellectual journey of our 16th president through his private notes to himself, explored together here for the first time

A deeply private man, shut off even to those who worked closely with him, Abraham Lincoln often captured “his best thoughts", as he called them, in short notes to himself. He would work out his personal stances on the biggest issues of the day, never expecting anyone to see these frank, unpolished pieces of writing, which he’d then keep close at hand, in desk drawers and even in his top hat. The profound importance of these notes has been overlooked, because the originals are scattered across several different archives and have never before been brought together and examined as a coherent whole.

Now, renowned Lincoln historian Ronald C. White walks listeners through 12 of Lincoln’s most important private notes, showcasing our greatest president’s brilliance and empathy, but also his very human anxieties and ambitions. We look over Lincoln’s shoulder as he grapples with the problem of slavery, attempting to find convincing rebuttals to those who supported the evil institution (“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”); prepares for his historic debates with Stephen Douglas; expresses his private feelings after a defeated bid for a Senate seat (“With me, the race of ambition has been a failure - a flat failure”); voices his concerns about the new Republican Party’s long-term prospects; develops an argument for national unity amidst a secession crisis that would ultimately rend the nation in two; and, for a president many have viewed as not religious, develops a sophisticated theological reflection in the midst of the Civil War (“it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party”). Additionally, in a historic first, all 111 Lincoln notes are transcribed in the appendix, a gift to scholars and Lincoln buffs alike.

These are notes Lincoln never expected anyone to read, put into context by a writer who has spent his career studying Lincoln’s life and words. The result is a rare glimpse into the mind and soul of one of our nation’s most important figures.

*This audiobook contains a PDF containing a selection of photographs of Lincoln’s private notes.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 Ronald C. White (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“An intimate character portrait and fascinating inquiry into the basis of Lincoln’s energetic, curious mind.... We see in Lincoln’s fragments a poised and resolute intellectual. We also see a vulnerable individual humbled by the precariousness of the nation and of its vast, uncertain future.... As Mr. White shows so persuasively, Lincoln’s quiet, personal moments laid the foundation for his enduring public legacy.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“These selected personal notes form chapters that describe Lincoln’s life in private moments. As a whole, they create a unique, intimate, highly readable, and personable biography of Abraham Lincoln.” (New York Journal of Books)

"In this elegant and illuminating book, the great biographer Ronald C. White takes us on a fascinating tour inside the mind — and the heart — of Abraham Lincoln.... An important and timeless work.” (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of His Truth Is Marching On)

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Wow very interesting read and Audible Book

After many Lincoln books read this book was a great delight to read. Author gives great insight into Lincolns thoughts that he jotted down for future use.

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Very insightful

Fascinating peek into the mind of Lincoln. I appreciated the author's explanations and his theories about the time in which some of the mysterious ones were written. I always appreciate when the author reads his own book. The inflections and pronunciations are always as intended which, for me, aid in understanding since some readers can really botch pronunciation especially. Mr. Which's voice is a bit gravelly, but I found this charming. My only regret was that this book wasn't longer.

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Lincoln in Private

The Author has selected certain chapters and times of Lincoln’s life, which when examined closely and in detail, provide invaluable insights about Lincoln for any listener. The are accessible and varied; combined they bring forth a deeper understanding of the man, father, husband, lawyer, orator and President. In reality, the person through wise application and development of his abilities, traits and wisdom, often through secondary sources, achieved the Office of President almost as a byproduct of his benign persistence.

The beauty of the audiobook is you meet the humble aspects of this man of the people. You gain more subtle understanding of his character through his approach to the wide variety of challenges he faced both personal and political. Some of the events discussed are rarely considered by most biographies so there are some gems for Lincoln admirers. Importantly, the books purpose is not a complete edification of Lincoln. It has a balanced perspective and an engaging style. I hope you enjoy it.

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Incredibly personal look at Lincoln thoughts!

Examining Abraham Lincoln’s life through the lens of his personal notes found after his tragic death is a refreshing way to see Lincoln again. The greatness of his humility and patience with both circumstances and opponents is challenging is those of us moderns who want each problem fixed tomorrow, by sheer volume and force if necessary. His logic and moral fortitude seem unmatched today. A great book about a truly great man. Being read by Ron White himself made listening to this book a lasting impression to treasure.