In the best-selling tradition of Truman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Herbert Donald offers a new classic in American history and biography - a masterly account of how one man's extraordinary political acumen steered the Union to victory in the Civil War, and of how his soaring rhetoric gave meaning to that agonizing struggle for nationhood and equality.
Donald spent 50 years studying Lincoln, tracing his rise from humble origins to the pinnacle of the presidency. He reveals the development of the future president's character and shows how Lincoln's enormous capacity for growth enabled one of the least experienced men ever elected to high office to become a giant in the annals of American politics. And he depicts a man who was basically passive by nature, yet ambitious enough to take enormous risks and overcome repeated defeats.
Much more than a political biography, Lincoln seats us behind the desk of a president who was both a master of ambiguity and expediency and a great moral leader, as he makes the decisions that preserved the Union and shaped modern America.
©2011 David Herbert Donald (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
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Critic reviews

"A grand work - the Lincoln biography for this generation." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
" Lincoln immediately takes its place among the best of the genre, and it is unlikely that it will be surpassed in elegance, incisiveness and originality in this century.... A book of investigative tenacity, interpretive boldness and almost acrobatic balance." ( Chicago Tribune)
"Eagerly awaited, Lincoln fulfills expectations. Donald writes with lucidity and elegance." ( The Atlantic)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Nils on 13-04-13

A very thorough biography

It is obvious that a lot of serious research has gone into writing this biography, and I have enjoyed getting innumerable little unexpected insights into the person behind the statesman.

The thoroughness, however, also means that the biography contains rather long stretches of information that I did not find interesting or to be contributing much to my understanding of the character of Lincoln.

The parts that I found most interesting concerned his upright moral character, insisting on reimbursing other people's loss without any legal obligation to do so - and then fulfilling his pledge at considerable personal and financial cost. Also, the way he learned from numerous mistakes when trying to conduct the war, often being rather too patient with generals of questionable will or ability to act, is compelling "reading".

Finally, his sense of loyalty to subordinates who tried to carry out his instructions (rather than orders) impressed me - even when they failed dismally. All paint the picture of a man of unusual integrity, of unsurpassed desire to learn from his mistakes, and of a selfless gentleness that should be challenge to every one of us.

The narrator's voice changes considerably (is it the same narrator or were parts recorded in a different studio later on?) in a few places, which I have not noticed in any other audio books. Not a problem, just different!

I do recommend this book, but intricate details of party organisation and hordes of less-than-central politicians could have been omitted, in my opinion.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alastair 1980 on 19-12-17

Sensational story of a great man

Truly brilliant way to spend 30 hours! Incredible story of one one of the greatest leaders ever.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Vicente on 14-11-13

The narration almost stopped me.

I have to say that the bland narration from the beginning left me wanting to stop. The only reason why I continued was because of the content of the book.
Not only was the narrator bland but at times there were cut ins and these short clips were worse than the original narrator. Although I did get used to the narrator maybe it was because of the book.
The book itself was good. This book left me wanting to know more about the civil war. Also, this book didn't make Lincoln in to a larger than life figure but human with errors.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 18-12-12

Dry and Technical but Excellent

This is, at times, a dry and technical read and at other times becomes touching or funny. Overall I was very satisfied. This biography of Lincoln seems to be quite unbiased and follows the facts wherever they lead. The author tries to present a history based upon what Lincoln actually knew at the time, leaving out facts that we now know, but Lincoln had no way of knowing. This book has a lot of peripheral information that places other historical facts in context (for example how big Lincoln’s house was compared with the average in the area). This history presents Lincoln as a hero, but as an imperfect, ambiguous, and human hero. Although this was a bit of a less fun read then Team of Rivals, overall I found this the more satisfying history.

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19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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