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Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words

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Another excellent book by Wilson, although I liked 'Honor's Voice' better. This book carefully looks at some of Lincoln's key writings, while also giving important background information. As with 'Honor's Voice', Wilson provides some key insights into how and why Lincoln wrote some of these letters and speeches. His chapter on the Gettysburg address is especially good, and probably the best chapter. I am deducting a star simply because it is not as good as his masterful earlier work.
The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination

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One of the finest Lincoln books I've read in a long time. I highly recommend this book. It seems like most Lincoln books I've read recently that involve a focused subject tend to wander away from that subject a great deal. Not this book. This book does an excellent job of looking at Lincoln's campaigning between 1858 and 1860, and how we won the 1860 nomination. The book also goes into more detail about the Judd and Wentworth feud during that time, and how that had an impact on Lincoln's campaign. All other books I've read tended to gloss over that feud, but this really examined it in more detail. I have certainly come to the conclusion that this feud should have been covered by other books in greater depth than it has been. This book also lead me to the conclusion that the Cooper speech was more of an 'icing on the cake' than the speech that 'made' Lincoln. That is, his earlier speeches in Ohio and out west in 1858 and 1859 were as important or more important to Lincoln's political career than the Cooper speech. In all, this book did an amazing job with filling in the details of Lincoln's political life between the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the 1860 Republican convention, which was a particularly fascinating part of Lincoln's life. Even better, the writing is crisp, clear and very engaging. It almost reads like an exciting novel. No dry spells at all. Believe it or not, I could see this book being made into a movie. I absolutely cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a must read for any Lincoln fan.
The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln’s Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America

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I found this book interesting mostly for the information about Douglas. I had hoped to read more about interactions between the two in the 'early years' at Springfield, but I'm sure that this history was never recorded. (Hey, who'd have known what was going to happen?) This is a brief book (about 200 pages of text), but I'm glad that it wasn't padded with more about Lincoln than was necessary to link the two men. Most of the Lincoln information was familiar, but it flowed well (I thought), and relevant to the topic at hand. I would recommend this book to people who want to know a bit more about Douglas than they read in the typical Lincoln book, but who don't want to read a Douglas biography.
Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America

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Excellent book. I'm glad that the book didn't deal *exclusively* with the debates themselves. Instead, Guelzo brings in background information to help the reader understand some of the more esoteric references in the debates, as well as what was going on with Lincoln and Douglas before and after each debate. Ironically, I wish Guelzo had spent a bit more time examining each debate. However, I can't fault him too much for that: he certainly boiled each debate down to the essential basics. I read the actual debates a few years ago. At the time, there were a number of things from the debates that I just didn't understand too well. I may have to go back and re-read them now that I have a better sense of the background for some of the topics.In all, the book was well written. There were a few places where I found myself thinking it was a bit 'dry', but the latter chapters were quite interesting. If you want to know more about the debates (but don't want to actually wade through the transcripts of the debates), then this is the book for you.
Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage

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This is really the first book about a CW battle that I've read. It detailed nearly every skirmish of the battle, but it never seemed dry. If I had read more books on the battles, I could perhaps give a better 'comparison' review. If you want to know everything there is about this battle, this book would certainly cover it.
Did Lincoln Own Slaves?: And Other Frequently Asked Questions about Abraham Lincoln

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I really enjoyed this book. While a Lincoln scholar will not really learn too much about Lincoln (as the author comes out and says in the introduction), it does provide a very nice condensation of all sorts of facts about Lincoln presented in a breezy readable style. The book is is written in the style of a series of questions and answers (e.g., 'did Lincoln own slaves' to quote the title), then give a brief then a more detailed answer (e.g., 'No, he did not. He......'). The information is extremely accurate. There were a few places where I thought the author was going to slide into some pseudo-history that I was aware of, but he never did. If you want to learn 'just the facts, ma'am' about Lincoln without having to wade through a long biography, this would be a great place to start. This would be a great gift book for someone who is a history buff but doesn't know much about Lincoln. As an aside, I especially liked his answer to 'what is the worst book about Lincoln ever written?'. His second place worst book was "Lincoln" by Gore Vidal, a book I also hated and I have been surprised at the general positive reviews on this site. That book was pure crap, and this author calls Vidal on it. Hooray for Prokopowicz.
President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman

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I liked this book perhaps more than 'Lincoln's Virtues'. I enjoy Lincoln books that focus on specific events and discuss those events in detail, and this book does just that. I think I still enjoyed 'Honor's Voice' more, but this is a worthy read, and an excellent follow-up to Miller's first book. I highly recommend this.
Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

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Excellent book. I started the book wondering how much psycho-babble I would encounter. To my happy surprise, not much. This is a very serious book that examines how (and why) Lincoln experienced depression, and what forms that took. He then examines how Lincoln overcame his persistent depression, and then used it to fight the Kansas-Nebraska act and during his presidency. Of particular interest is the Appendix, which describes different periods of Lincoln scholarship, with a particular focus on the Ann Rutledge story. Some day I hope someone writes a book on the history of Lincoln scholarship. It would make for a very interesting read. I have to say that I am mystified by some of the low ratings some have given this book. It is, on the whole, quite interesting and I feel that I've learning a bit more about Abe. One reviewer found the book repetitious, but I don't think it was at all. I found that it dragged for a short time about 2/3 of the way in, but before that and at the end (especially the wonderful Appendix), this was a very fascinating book. I can't quite give it 5 stars, but crikey, this is still a wonderful book.
House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, a Family Divided by War

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Excellent book. I really liked the essentially mini-biographies of Mary Todd Lincolns brothers and sisters, and what all they did during the Civil War, and what kind of an impact they had on Lincoln himself. I had no idea that one of Mary's brothers was a commander of a Confederate prison camp for a short while, and garnered a reputation as one of the most vile prison commanders of them all. Fascinating book made all the better by crisp writing that doesn't rehash much commonly-known Lincoln information. While old Abe himself is actually not in the book very much (until towards the end), the book is a must-read for any Lincoln fan. I really felt like I understood his 2nd inaugural speech better because of this book. I'll ding it a half star because there are some passages where the author puts thoughts into Lincoln's head that may or may not have been there. Still, that is a fairly minor quibble. At just under 200 pages of writing, this is a fast and interesting read.
Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861

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This is probably the best book covering Lincoln from the 1860 election to his inauguration. It is not only exhaustive, but it adds so many interesting tidbits that it is a really refreshing read. I have a tendency to get bored quickly if I'm in a 'dry' read, but this book never bored me, and I read a number of things that I had never read before. I especially liked the fairly detailed chapter of the long train ride from Springfield to Washington, and a good description of the speeches that Lincoln gave at the various stops and the (partisan) reactions to them. I also liked the chapter that showed how his inauguration speech evolved. Holzer really delves into the idea that Lincoln didn't say much while the southern states were succeeding at an alarming pace following his election. Really, just about anything Lincoln could have said would have made the states succeed more quickly. He must have had many sleepless nights. This is an excellent book, and if you are interested in this time of Lincoln's life, this is the one to read.
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