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Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln  By  cover art

Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

By: Allen C. Guelzo,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo
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Publisher's Summary

Five days after Abraham Lincoln was buried in Springfield, Illinois, John Locke Scripps, who had convinced Lincoln to write his first campaign autobiography, asserted that the 16th president had become, "the Great American Man - the grand central figure in American (perhaps the World's) History."

Historians still find it hard to quibble with Scripps's opinion. Lincoln was the central figure in the nation's greatest crisis, the Civil War. His achievements in office make as good a case as any that he was the greatest president in U.S. history.

What made Lincoln great? What was it about him that struck those who knew him? This fast-moving series of 12 lectures explores those questions with the help of one of our most distinguished Lincoln scholars and award-winning author.

The lectures take you through Lincoln's life, from his forebears' arrival in America to an evaluation of his legacy. And you'll come to know the man through the eyes of those who knew, lived with, and worked with him.

In presenting Lincoln, Professor Guelzo explores three themes: What ideas were at the core of his understanding of American politics? Why did he oppose slavery, and what propelled him, in the 1850s, into the open opposition to slavery that led to his election to the presidency in 1860? What gifts equipped Lincoln to lead the nation through the "fiery trial" of the Civil War? The result is an understanding of Lincoln as a man who envisioned a nation of self-governing equals wise enough to be guided not just by self-interest or popular enthusiasm, but by an abiding sense of right and wrong. Ultimately, he gave that nation, in his words, "a new birth of freedom."

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

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln, Wart and All.

“For Lincoln, the Democrats of his day claimed to be the party of the Common Man. But in reality they were led by a wealthy and especially Southern plantation elite who did everything they could to discourage ordinary people from rising—and therefore threatening—their own status. And what made these plantation aristocrats successful was their ability to play the poor off against the middle class in order to distract attention away from their own control of events.” --Allen C. Guelzo, Lecture 4

We may wonder if the good professor realizes the parallels to our own times. Be that as it may, the above is a fine example of the clarity and cogency you’ll find in these lectures.

Delivered by the author of a Lincoln biography subtitled, “Redeemer President”, his overwhelmingly positive tone should come as no surprise. But that doesn’t stop him from bursting myths, misunderstandings, and hagiography, giving us a picture of a profoundly complex, perpetually fascinating human being who was, in Guelzo’s memorable phrase, “as open as the prairie and as closed as a safe”.

Take his understanding of Lincoln’s elusive religious views. Though rejecting the bleak Calvinism of his frontier boyhood, Lincoln nevertheless retained a sense that all events are foreordained. According to Guelzo, this meant he could not hold wrongdoers responsible for the wrongs they did, making possible his sincerely held vision of “charity for all” to former slaveholders and rebels. It’s the most plausible accounting of Lincoln’s religious sensibility that I’ve ever run across.

It’s also another fine example of the benefits of this quick birds’ eye view of Lincoln, a format that obliges our professor to deliver clear, concise opinions and assessments, carefully considered distillations of his deeper, more detailed studies. These, in turn, help us grasp the overall shape of the story and see its larger patterns—useful markers for understanding all we have read and will read in the future.

The presentation of these talks is just as seamless and well-executed as their content; only once do I think Professor Guelzo slipped off the rails. Perhaps at times a little too polished, occasionally verging on smugness, he is nevertheless a treat to listen to, and his peroration is a message for our times.

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Cool overview.

Last lecture has the good stuff as far as why Lincoln is (or should be still) relevant today. I found this to be a good refresher and overview of the man. Scholars probably want something a little deeper, but I picked up a couple of nuggets and anecdotes that made it worthwhile.

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Great quick summary of Lincoln's life

In my opinion this lecturer is amazingly good. He always has rich content and delivers it in a compelling (almost spellbinding) way. I can't imagine a better quick 6 hour insight into Lincoln. It makes me want to dig into a much deeper history of the man (although I think I now have a good sense of the key aspects of his life). The lecturer's passion and admiration for Lincoln help make the course very engaging.

2 people found this helpful

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  • AJ
  • 07-18-20

An informative book but not great

The author spent way too much time giving a background of Lincoln’s life and experiences leading up to the Presidency but did not delve much into the Presidency itself. Somehow the popular theme of the team of rivals where he worked effectively with more experienced politicians in solving complicated problems never came through. The takeaway that I had from this book was that Lincoln knew what was right and did what he think was correct, irrespective of counsel. Not sure if this is popular opinion but I would have liked a historian tease that out further and pressure test popular notion. The book provided a good view into Lincoln’s convictions and how it stood tall even during the height of the civil war and how he played a key role in the United States remaining a single state and effectively warding off threats from the Confederate forces. Came out wanting more info and I feel that the book could have taken another few chapters to explain events outside of the civil war. My rating is 3/5

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Lincoln: President Without Equal

Narration: Clear and occasionally slightly affected in its a-bit-too-much enthusiasm.

Content: Thorough account of Lincoln's life as a man of integrity, wit, patience, compassion, humility, and decency. As close to as saint as any mortal might be. And trump has the unmitigated gall and stupidity to claim his competences rivals Lincoln's.

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Great listen

Loved it! It was well written and loved the insight into a great presidents life.

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FANTASTIC IN EVERY RESPECT

this is by far the best history lecture I have ever heard or read. I am a retired professor not of history but of European literature and I will admit freely and enthusiastically that if I had listened to these 12 lectures as a recent PhD, I would have been a much more effective and fascinating lecturer myself.
the history of Lincoln's life is relatively well known and some think that there wouldn't much that's new here. However that would be a terribly wrong assumption. Even the retelling of well-known incidents and details are superbly delivered as well as surrounded with the most thoughtful and most alluring commentary. This is a true gem and to boot it is entirely free for audible subscribers.

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Misleading

This book should hand been titled Mr Lincoln presidential war years. I was hoping to hear more about his childhood and growing up. Sadly it was only a couple of chapters the rest of the book focused on the Civil War.

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Excellent Story

Great story of Lincoln, his life, and the history surrounding him. Super easy to comprehend and spoken in modern language so its easy to relate to. Highly recommended.

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Spectacular! Inspiring!

Guelzo never disappoints! He blends history with phenomenal reflective snippets all in superb prose. This was my fifth course of his to listen to. I recommend them all.

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  • michael mcmahon
  • 01-26-20

great appreciation of Lincoln. superb narration

comprehensive and engrossing appreciation of Lincoln. complemented by a superb narrator. not to be missed

1 person found this helpful

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  • Diogenes
  • 12-27-16

Fantastic

Outstandingly well told. Best of the Great Courses that I have listened to (out of many)

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  • Hiro
  • 05-01-20

Highly recommended

“Great Course”, indeed.
Very informative and approachable, the presenter did a great job guiding us through the life of this statesman.