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I have read several Lincoln biographies, including Doris Kearns Goodwin's very good one, but this one gave me much more of a sense of Lincoln, the man. There were many of his jokes, many instances of his interactions with ordinary people, so many stories of his kinndness and understanding of human nature.
I didn't realize when i bought the book that it was 44 hours long. To my great surprise, I finished it in about ten days, listening four or five hours a day because I was so interested.
There were a few stories about Mary Todd Lincoln's difficult behavior that revealed her illness and his constant generosity and understanding.
I also liked Sandberg's references to how Lincoln's speech sounded. I am almost certain that he would never be elected today, as he would be dismissed as an ignorant hick.
From previous biographies, I knew that Lincoln was shot on April 14. When Grant defeated Lee at Appomattox on April 9, I realized the end was near. I kept hoping (knowing it was ridiculous) that Lincoln would decide to stay in that Friday. The stories of some of the things he did that day were heartbreaking, and so very kind. For example, he met a widow with four children whose husband's pension hadn't been paid for months. He promised to personally take care of it the next day. She wept in gratitude, and I wonder if she ever got that pension.
The national train ride of mourning was so well written that I felt the nation's love and sorrow. One shortcoming, I felt, was that other than the moments and hours after the shooting, Sandburg provided no quotes or insight into the reactions of Lincoln's wife and sons. I wondered what it was like for them to accompany his (eventually decomposing) body around the nation. In the midst of their grief and horror, I wonder if the solidarity of the crowds was conforting, exhausting or both.
Often during the book, as Lincoln's decisions were reviewed, often very unfavorably, by his contemporaries, I wondered how long it takes to get a fair perspective on history.
This was a beautifully written and narrated book, and it will inform my view of Lincoln and American history forever.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
Yes, we all know how the story ends.
But this significant book (44+hours) was well worth the listen. Carl Sandburg tells the story of Abraham Lincoln in a way that had me feeling like I knew the man. I learned the good, bad and completely unexpected about Mr. Lincoln, his beliefs, his relationships, his humour and the amazing times in which he lived.
Arthur Morey was a wonderful narrator, balancing his delivery and dialects in a measured, respectful and, I thought, unbiased way.
The ending was sad because it felt like I had lost a friend.
36 of 39 people found this review helpful