Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.95

Buy for $29.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

This Star-Studded New Recording Brings to Life a History Changing Political Battle!

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates made history and changed its course through seven legendary match-ups between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during the 1858 Illinois senatorial race. Although he lost the election, Lincoln's gift for oratory and his anti-slavery stance made him a nationally known figure, and led to his election to the presidency in 1860.

Never before presented in audio, these debates and great statesmen are brought to life by narrators Richard Dreyfuss (Douglas) and David Strathairn (Lincoln). Perfectly timed for the Lincoln Bincentennial celebrations, The Lincoln-Douglas Debates provide a soundtrack to a nation discovering its better self.

©2009 BBC Audiobooks America; 2009 the Abraham Lincoln Association

What listeners say about The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    117
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    107
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    98
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

what a resource!

Great performances. Can't believe we have access to this stuff, Never could have read the debates out of a book - this made it really accessible. Douglas' arguments were extremely sensible at the time from a practical perspective. In hindsight it is really great the Lincoln and his allies took the morally high ground. What a passage this was for the country - the debates gave a great snap shot on the thorny legal issues that led to the war.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great fun

His unabridged recording of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates by two well-known actors is both great fun and a fantastic insight into a key debate on a central issue in American history. Both actors seem to really get into character (although I wonder if Dreyfuss maybe hams it up a bit... this may be unfair as I do not know the literature regarding how Douglas really spoke and delivered his speeches) and the intervening comments of the 3rd narrator (communicating time, location, and audience interruptions) help to place the listener at the edge of the stage in the crowd. Great stuff.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't miss this!

This portrayal is so well done you will feel as if you are attending the proceedings.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is some of the finest work on Audible

I was so happy to find this. There is often a line one needs to draw between material that can be appreciated as an audiobook and material better read as text (books with a good deal of figures, tables, or numbers are candidates usually read rather than heard). This is on the complete other end, as I feel that it is far BETTER appreciated as an audiobook. These debates were, after all, a series of speeches, and they arguments here made were heard before they were read. It is nice that we can also read them to make notes and highlights, but this too was true in the 1850s.

The performances are just stellar. There is a high degree of repition in the speeches at times, owing to the fact that the debates were spread across 7 different venues, and arguments made in one place might well be repeated to another crowd elsewhere. This makes for dry reading, and in part that is why I'd not read them in their entirety previously. But the performances here really bring the material alive, the readings are done with great passion (as one imagines they were given in their original telling), and I'm very glad to have made this purchase.

I highly recommend this to anyone interested in US history, the rise of Lincoln, and the preludes to the Civil War. It is rare to have a primary source made so delightfully accessible.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intrigue Intellect, Layered politics and performan

What made the experience of listening to The Lincoln-Douglas Debates the most enjoyable?

Listening carefully, it becomes clear that both Stephen Douglas and Lincoln avoided stating their positions clearly. And yet, by the attacks they make on one another we learn the true positions of the other. Lincoln, through both Douglas's attacks, and Lincoln's own defense, emerges as a scheming strategist who took on the infamy of slavery in well arranged political skirmishes, but in large public meetings found ways to avoid altogether any comittment to his views, both the political and financial implications of ending slavery and establishing equality. At one point Lincoln states "well, I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I haven't given it enough time, though I hope to do so." and this after his own party has established as its platform the eradication of slavery as an institution. Keep in mind that Lincoln was one of the founders of the Republican party!

As the debates proceed, it is clear that Douglas really means to uncover both Lincoln's true intent and the political manueverings he is using to hide his plan. Douglas also wants to leave it up to the voters, but does not shy away from his own prejudices about blacks, and his protectionism for slave owners and the business of slavery. Try as he does to be liberal minded, his own position emerges with crystal clarity. It is an amazing tour de force display of both positions.

Who was your favorite character and why?

SPOILER ALERT:

Stephen Douglas. Both his rhetoric, and Richard Dreyfus' tour de force performance. You see in Dreyfus' Douglas the representation of big business interests and racism couched in the language of concern for the little guy and equality for all people. He does an amazing job demonstrating Douglas' sense of self-rightouseness and fairness, and his dogged determination to raise Lincoln's schemes, which border on unconstitutional, to the public eye.

Lincoln, Douglas proves again and again, doesn't want to leave the choice to the people on this issue. He means to irradicate Slavery. And Douglas, with perfect prescience, states clearly this will tear the country in two, which it did.

We are left with an incredible admiration for Lincoln, who really meant to give full and unequivocal morale and legal equality, including voting rights, to blacks, while never admitting it publicly.

In one telling passage, Douglas relates the incident of seeing a wealthy black man and his daughter riding in a beautiful carriage with a white driver. Douglas comments with fearful shock and sarcasm (and I paraphrase) : "this is the equality Lincoln wants! If you want this kind of equality, then Lincoln's your man!"

What is amazing is how current these very dynamics are today: Romney vs Obama. The identical story has been played out over a hundred years later, and the dynamics are still in force.

What does David Strathairn and Richard Dreyfuss bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Straithern's Lincoln is beautifully balanced sincerity and brilliance, that actually are used by Lincoln to hide his true intentions from the full glare of public light. Lincoln knew this was an uphill battle, against major financial and racial interests. He was a gurreilla warfare warrior, winning specific legal battles step by step, never admitting his aim in public. Amazing.

Dreyfuss' performance is actually more accessible, a tour de force. He is channeling Stephen Douglas, with all the moral furor and high ground that Douglas gave himself. It is an amazing performance. You hear Barry Goldwater, Mitt Romney, George Bush Jr., Dick Cheney and Richard Nixon's sentiments echoed in his portrayal, and understand the deeply rooted elements of racism wrapped in the self-delusional arguments of fair play and free choice.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Awed by the depth of the portrayals and the depth of these dynamics in current events.

Any additional comments?

I have learned a little more about Lincoln, the guerrilla warrior, the disimulator, the politician.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

How Lincoln became Lincoln

I admit I am a history junkie and this is one of those rare books that places you at the actual spot where the historical event occurred. You have a front row seat. The script is from the actual debates as they occurred and were reported.

These debates were critical in American History because they addressed head on, the issue of slavery and the arguments, pro and con, used in these debates became the talking points on both sides of the issue.

Richard Dreyfuss turns in a stellar performance as 'the little general', Steven Douglas. He has just the right tone that makes you listen to his arguments while wondering how Lincoln would respond.

This is not a story, it is a series of debates and there are really only two voices.

If you like your history reported the way it really was, this audio is for you.
If you like your history straight and without commentary, get this audio.

This audio is more history and information than entertainment

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Tremendous Window into the Politics of the Day

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This presentation was a tremendous explanation of the politics leading up to the civil war. It finally offers an explanation of why a nation, regions, states, and families would go through the expense of blood and treasure to preserve what was thought to be right and/or a right.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Inaccurate

The performances of the voice actors are great. The collection of the speeches and their proper delimitation by chapter is severely lacking in quality. It seems likely that the editor pulled either from one single pro-Lincoln source or in the case of Douglas used pro-Douglas sources and in the case Lincoln used pro-Lincoln sources. The problem here is that it makes for an inflated and overly polished representation of each. It’s unlikely Douglas would have used the N-word on stage and very likely that pro-Lincoln papers put the word in Douglas’s mouth when publishing his speech. They also would have allowed Lincoln to polish any errors he makes during his own speech. The hard copy collection by Harold Holzer explains this. Additionally, the chapters are not properly delineated. Where this audio book says the second debate begins is actually only about half way into the first debate. It’s midway into Lincoln’s 90 minute response and there would still be Douglas’s final 30 minute final rebuttal after that. So that’s pretty unforgivable as well.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

execellent performance

Finally an audio book that exceeds expectation. Im a stickler for tempo & pace, this one though, just a touch faster than my mind likes to operate, is pretty close to perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, kudu's to both Lincoln & Douglas. It would also be good to have had some background study of the Lincoln Douglas Debates to fully appreciate the audio book, I can recommend the Great Courses class/DVD's Lincoln - In His Own Words as a nice complement to this. I think any reader/listener interested in this topic will thoroughly enjoy this audio book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful experience

This is a truly great reenactment of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates that took place during the race for the Senate in Illinois in 1858 and upon which the attention of the entire nation was focused. I found it very exciting to listen to, with both actors--Richard Dreyfuss (playing Stephen Douglas) and Richard Strathairn (playing Abraham Lincoln)--giving it their all. They really make you believe that you are listening to live debates. At once these joint debating appearances by the then Senate candidates in seven different Illinois towns are a reminder of how things have changed--for example, the expectation of each debater that he is addressing an intelligent audience well aware of current events, constitutional concepts, and history, which would not be so certain today--and how much things have remained the same--for example, the retailing of conspiracy theories, calling into question the opponents honesty, etc. This is history come alive, and I recommend this reenactment to anyone with an interest in American history.