Lincoln Books...........


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Pat Young

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#6
Your opinions...............


What are the top 5 best works on Lincoln ?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.


What are the top 5 worst works on Lincoln ?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.


Respectfully,

William
I might change these as others post their favorites:
1. David Donald "Lincoln"
2. Fred Kaplan "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer"
3. Allen Guelzo "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President"
4. James M. McPherson "Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief"
5. Garry Wills "Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America"

The Library of America's two volume Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln is by far my favorite though. Lincoln is the only president worth reading 2000 pages of.
 
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#7
I might change these as others post their favorites:
1. David Donald "Lincoln"
2. Fred Kaplan "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer"
3. Allen Guelzo "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President"
4. James M. McPherson "Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief"
5. Garry Wills "Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America"

The Library of America's two volume Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln is by far my favorite though. Lincoln is the only president worth reading 2000 pages of.
I have not purchased the Allen Guelzo book yet.

Respectfully,

William
 
#8
The Best
1. Michael Burlingame: Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Two Volumes)
2. David Donald: Lincoln
3. James McPherson: Tried by War - Abraham Lincoln as Commander In Chief
4. Harold Holzer: Lincoln - President Elect
5. Ronald C. White, Jr.: The Eloquent President - A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words
 
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As far as the top five I can only agree with what others have posted. I have not read all of those but have read a few. My personal choice for best single volume is Donald.

I don't know about the five worst as I usually only read works that are recommended by scholars and well reviewed but I'll offer this note:

On the off chance that there is anyone on this forum who doesn't know who Thomas DiLorenzo is let me help you. He's an ultra-libertarian economist - not an historian - who is of the 'Lincoln was a tyrant who needlessly started the war and grabbed power for the executive that caused all our current economic woes' school. He cherry picks quotes out of any context and does not have a grasp of the complexity of the era. Don't waste your money unless you just like to read extremist drivel.

I'll also offer that I'm not a Guelzo fan as I think he is one of those who have elevated Lincoln to sainthood to the point that he airbrushes out all the blemishes and thereby sometimes fails to show us the real person. His DVD lecture course on Lincoln from The Great Courses is a good example of that BTW.

I don't want to derail the thread but here's a few narrowly-focused books that I think worth a mention:

Current, Richard N. Lincoln And The First Shot (1963).
You will often see this one in bibliographies. It's two hundred pages or so and is about the Ft. Sumter (got it right again !) crisis. It's a good analysis of the cat and mouse both sides were playing and gives a moment-by-moment commentary. Available in paperback.

Tagg, Larry. The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln (2009).
This one focuses on Lincoln's opposition and detractors (but the author is not anti Lincoln). The author is a musician and high school teacher and not a scholar but the book is well researched and written and fills a gap in the Lincoln story (which is why I note it here). It details what was being said about Lincoln in the opposition press and by the politicians and groups that did not support him. The truth is that before the war was won and he was martyred he was not the universally-beloved figure we now know. If you can get a good used copy it's worth adding to your Lincoln library.
 

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I'll also offer that I'm not a Guelzo fan as I think he is one of those who have elevated Lincoln to sainthood to the point that he airbrushes out all the blemishes and thereby sometimes fails to show us the real person. His DVD lecture course on Lincoln from The Great Courses is a good example of that BTW.
Good point. I still enjoy Guelzo a lot, but I also wonder how much his depiction of Lincoln has to do with Guelzo's role in the internal debate over the Republican Party within the modern conservative movement. Folks often point out Eric Foner's politics, but Guelzo is also pretty political. Anyway, I do really love his writing and heartily recommend his Gettysburg book from 2013 as an example of great writing in the service of history.
 
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Good point. I still enjoy Guelzo a lot, but I also wonder how much his depiction of Lincoln has to do with Guelzo's role in the internal debate over the Republican Party within the modern conservative movement. Folks often point out Eric Foner's politics, but Guelzo is also pretty political. Anyway, I do really love his writing and heartily recommend his Gettysburg book from 2013 as an example of great writing in the service of history.
I think that's a good assessment. As I said on another thread, Foner's politics also shine through in his work on reconstruction but it's still the best volume representing the revisionist school. Historians have opinions - and sometimes agendas - just like everybody else.
 
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#15
The Best
1. Michael Burlingame: Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Two Volumes)
2. David Donald: Lincoln
3. James McPherson: Tried by War - Abraham Lincoln as Commander In Chief
4. Harold Holzer: Lincoln - President Elect
5. Ronald C. White, Jr.: The Eloquent President - A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words

All very good books !

Respectfully,

William
 

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I think Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" should be somewhere on the list. As for worst, Maybe "Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter" only available on Amazon in a German edition Kindle book. Of course that was not intended to be taken so seriously so possibly it wouldn't count.

I did pick up a signed copy of James Swanson's "Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase For Lincoln's Killer" in a Capitol Hill bookshop when there was talk of a movie with Harrison Ford a few years ago. Nothing yet, Oops!
 
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#18
OK, so I'm going to have to spill even more lunch money on this. But it's limited - why are we told Michael Burlingames's work is preferable to David Donald's? If you you had to buy one, which would it be and why?
 

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OK, so I'm going to have to spill even more lunch money on this. But it's limited - why are we told Michael Burlingames's work is preferable to David Donald's? If you you had to buy one, which would it be and why?
Yes, I agree - that is: tell me why Burlingames's work is better than Donald - especially given the current price. A book I thoroughly enjoyed, another book by a woman that didn't get much press, although very good reviews is:The Case of Abraham Lincoln, by Julie M. Fenster. Just when (as she says) you thought everything was found out about Lincoln she found the transcripts of a major 1856 murder trial where Lincoln was the defense attorney.

I cherish (and have often repeated) the explosion of David H. Donald when I asked him about Lincoln's talent as a defense attorney: "Lincoln was no Johnnie Cochran!!!". If anybody has read this book and then might think there was more a resemblance than Donald would grant, let me know.
 

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