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

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,092
Location
Due west of the Free State stronghold of Lawrence
One of the best books I've read is Lincoln's Sanctuary : Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home.
Just got this one the other day (secondhand, great condition, $0.01 plus shipping, from Amazon)
Can't wait to read it (as soon as I get done with the half-dozen other Lincoln books I'm reading simultaneously right now)!
Glad to know you recommend it.
 

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
4,862
Location
a happy farm in Maryland or a friendly Co-Op in NY
Just got this one the other day (secondhand, great condition, $0.01 plus shipping, from Amazon)
Can't wait to read it (as soon as I get done with the half-dozen other Lincoln books I'm reading simultaneously right now)!
Glad to know you recommend it.
The staff at the cottage turned me on to it. I think you will enjoy it.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,092
Location
Due west of the Free State stronghold of Lawrence
My favorite Lincoln book so far -- and one that seems to be overlooked by most people -- is Father Abraham: Lincoln's Relentless Struggle to End Slavery, by Richard Striner.

Striner's book is real history. But I'm also a sucker for memoirs or other recollections by people who actually knew Lincoln and have lots of wonderful anecdotes about him to share. My favorites so far in this genre would be Six Months at the White House by Francis B. Carpenter and Lincoln and the Civil War, in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay.

As to least favorite book, there is no contest: Bill Reilly's awful Killing Lincoln. Ugh. What is the matter with that guy, being so obsessed with famous people's assassinations? Weird. In all fairness, I have to admit, I did learn some things. I hadn't known about the attempted killing of William Seward and his family the same night, and I didn't know all the details of Booth's flight and eventual death. But two things bugged me so much, that months after reading the book, I'm still irritated:
1) O'Reilly's story about how Lincoln happened to be left unguarded in the theatre box contradicts every other account I've ever seen. What's up with that?
2) O'Reilly gives what I think is an inexcusable amount of weight to some cockamamie conspiracy theory involving Edwin Stanton.
Of course, these two problems made me doubt the veracity of everything else in the book as well.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,092
Location
Due west of the Free State stronghold of Lawrence
I might change these as others post their favorites:

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 that 2-volume set as well. I would agree that it is essential. Don't know if I'll ever get through all the letters, but I've read most of the major speeches, and they are AMAZING. You just can't appreciate Lincoln fully until you read his speeches, in my opinion. You really come to appreciate how phenomenal his mind really was.

Also, there's nothing like reading his early speeches to destroy the popular myth that ending slavery was not always his ultimate goal.

My only complaint about the Library of America collection is that it has no explanatory notes, nothing to give any context. For that reason, I use it as more of a reference work -- i.e., when I'm reading some other book about Lincoln, and mention is made of a particular letter or speech, I can go to the Library of America books and read the letter or speech in its entirety. But the L of A books assume that you've already got the context from some other source.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,092
Location
Due west of the Free State stronghold of Lawrence
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.
Thanks for the tip! Will definitely look into that one. I just got Current's The Lincoln Nobody Knows this week -- about halfway through it, finding it very worthwhile so far.
 

John Winn

Captain
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Messages
6,539
Location
State of Jefferson
. You just can't appreciate Lincoln fully until you read his speeches, in my opinion.
I agree. When you've collected enough bottles and cans for another purchase you might want to check out the DVD course put out by The Teaching Company:
Abraham Lincoln: In His Own Words by Dr. David Zarefsky
It's a very good analysis of Lincoln's speeches. You can also get it as an audio download if you don't need DVD (probably a good choice as there's not a lot of visuals anyway) which is cheaper.
You have to keep checking their site for the price to go down as they often put on sales.

I'd guess you can find a copy of Current on Amazon for pennies.

While we're busy listing, here's one I've referred to a number of times:

Randall, James G. (1926). Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln.
It's just over 500 pages but if you want to know what Lincoln and his administration actually did this is it. There's a tad of antiquated language but it's very clear writing and provides excellent analysis of all the legal issues of the day. If you want to be able to debate if Lincoln was a tyrant, secession was/wasn't constitutional, he did/didn't have the power to suspend habas corpus and the like then read this and have it in your library.
 
Last edited:

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,092
Location
Due west of the Free State stronghold of Lawrence
I agree. When you've collected enough bottles and cans for another purchase you might want to check out the DVD course put out by The Teaching Company:
Abraham Lincoln: In His Own Words by Dr. David Zarefsky
It's a very good analysis of Lincoln's speeches. You can also get it as an audio download if you don't need DVD (probably a good choice as there's not a lot of visuals anyway) which is cheaper.
You have to keep checking their site for the price to go down as they often put on sales.

I'd guess you can find a copy of Current on Amazon for pennies.

While we're busy listing, here's one I've referred to a number of times:

Randall, James G. (1926). Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln.
It's just over 500 pages but if you want to know what Lincoln and his administration actually did this is it. There's a tad of antiquated language but it's very clear writing and provides excellent analysis of all the legal issues of the day. If you want to be able to debate Lincoln was a tyrant, secession was/wasn't constitutional, he did/didn't have the power to suspend habas corpus and the like then read this and have it in your library.
Bottles and cans won't help -- I don't get paid a cent for them, since I turn them all in to my community recycling center, and it's their proceeds from the aluminum that enable them to keep their doors open! And I can't just sell a few more eggs, since a mini-tornado picked up the chicken house, scattered the chickens, and we've never gotten around to rebuilding or restocking. I guess I could have a garage sale.... but no, all the proceeds from that are going to go toward my Gettysburg trip in October. So I guess I will just have to put it at the top of my Amazon wishlist and wait for Christmas to come around again!

Seriously, thanks for the tip. That Randall book sounds like a treasure. I only hope I have sufficient brain cells to follow his reasoning!
 

John Winn

Captain
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Messages
6,539
Location
State of Jefferson
Bottles and cans won't help -- I don't get paid a cent for them, since I turn them all in to my community recycling center, and it's their proceeds from the aluminum that enable them to keep their doors open! And I can't just sell a few more eggs, since a mini-tornado picked up the chicken house, scattered the chickens, and we've never gotten around to rebuilding or restocking. I guess I could have a garage sale.... but no, all the proceeds from that are going to go toward my Gettysburg trip in October. So I guess I will just have to put it at the top of my Amazon wishlist and wait for Christmas to come around again!

Seriously, thanks for the tip. That Randall book sounds like a treasure. I only hope I have sufficient brain cells to follow his reasoning!
Gettysburg .... now I'm jealous.

Randall's reasoning is quite easy to follow. While he does make legal references and case notations he is not legalistic in his style (at least it doesn't seem that way to me). That's what I really like; he's at once pithy in his summaries but provides all the details as well. I find him similar in that respect to David Potter.
 

godofredus

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
2,084
Location
Chicago
I have that 2-volume set as well. I would agree that it is essential. Don't know if I'll ever get through all the letters, but I've read most of the major speeches, and they are AMAZING. You just can't appreciate Lincoln fully until you read his speeches, in my opinion. You really come to appreciate how phenomenal his mind really was.

Also, there's nothing like reading his early speeches to destroy the popular myth that ending slavery was not always his ultimate goal.

My only complaint about the Library of America collection is that it has no explanatory notes, nothing to give any context. For that reason, I use it as more of a reference work -- i.e., when I'm reading some other book about Lincoln, and mention is made of a particular letter or speech, I can go to the Library of America books and read the letter or speech in its entirety. But the L of A books assume that you've already got the context from some other source.
I used to own Basler's "Complete Works" but it is now online for free. Very good lookup's. OK, so I can't take my copy into the head anymore, but what the heck....also all the footnotes are there.

Then there is the new edition of Nicole and Hay:
Abraham Lincoln: The Observations of John G. Nicolay and John Hay Hardcover
by Michael Burlingame (Editor)
and the original:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1605206687/?tag=civilwartalkc-20

All ten volumes are in paperback in a facsimile edition. Check out the reviews...

And then there is the original, on-line, for free https://archive.org/details/abrahamlincolna08haygoog
 
Last edited:

Samwisep86

Corporal
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Messages
428
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
As I'm only recently scratched the surface of Lincoln books, I can't give a ranking of five, but D.H. Donald's Lincoln is very good.

I've also read Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America which is a travelogue through America reflecting on Lincoln's life and legacy today, and parts of Stealing Lincoln's Body, which is also an interesting story of intrigue and amazement. I am planning on reading some books about the assassination soon.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
178
Location
Colorado

Greg Taylor

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 29, 2011
Messages
2,038
Location
Los Angeles

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,811
Best of all it can be read for free, all 2000 pages!:happy:
Now you tell me? I just bought a used copy of Donald's book, cheap. It'll have to do for now.
 

Greg Taylor

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 29, 2011
Messages
2,038
Location
Los Angeles
Now you tell me? I just bought a used copy of Donald's book, cheap. It'll have to do for now.
Read Donald's book and then read Burlingame's book at the link I gave. My copy of Donald's Lincoln is 599 pages so it shouldn't take too long. Then you can settle in for the long haul with Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Burlingame.
 
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
6,765
Location
About 47 miles Northwest of the Canadian border
Donald's was my favorite Lincoln bio, but as I get further into it I now think I rate Burlingame's as my favorite, if not the best. Despite its massive length (2000+ pages) it is a constant fascination to me. The research is beyond exhaustive and the references are a virtual goldmine of Lincoln resources. Best of all it can be read for free, all 2000 pages!:happy:
http://www.knox.edu/academics/distinctive-programs/lincoln-studies-center/burlingame-abraham-lincoln-a-life.html

Agree 100%. Burlingame in Abraham Lincoln: A Life takes you behind the scenes and tells you about all the little tidbits (with sources) that you will not find in any other Lincoln bio.
 

KeyserSoze

Captain
Joined
Apr 14, 2011
Messages
5,723
Location
Kansas City
I've read Donald's book on Lincoln, and maybe it's just me but I found Ron White's A. Lincoln to be the better book. Team of Rivals definitely has to be in the top 5 as does Fehernbacher's Lincoln's Speeches and Writings, Vol.1 and Vol. 2. For number 5 I'm going with James Simon's Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession and the President's War Powers.

Bottom 5 definitely has to have DiLorenzo's Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked simply because they are so God awful. Sandburg's Prairie Years and War Years belong there, mainly because of all the inaccuracies.
 


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top