Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln : A Life (Volume 1)

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In the first multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln to be published in decades, Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame offers a fresh look at the life of one of America's greatest presidents. Incorporating the field notes of earlier biographers, along with decades of research in multiple manuscript archives and long-neglected newspapers, this remarkable work will both alter and reinforce our current understanding of America's sixteenth president.

Volume 1 covers Lincoln's early childhood, his experiences as a farm boy in Indiana and Illinois, his legal training, and the political ambition that led to a term in Congress in the 1840s. In volume 2, Burlingame examines Lincoln's life during his presidency and the Civil War, narrating in fascinating detail the crisis over Fort Sumter and Lincoln's own battles with relentless office seekers, hostile newspaper editors, and incompetent field commanders. Burlingame also offers new interpretations of Lincoln's private life, discussing his marriage to Mary Todd and the untimely deaths of two sons to disease.

But through it all-his difficult childhood, his contentious political career, a fratricidal war, and tragic personal losses-Lincoln preserved a keen sense of humor and acquired a psychological maturity that proved to be the North's most valuable asset in winning the Civil War.

Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, this landmark publication establishes Burlingame as the most assiduous Lincoln biographer of recent memory and brings Lincoln alive to modern readers as never before.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 960 pages
  • 178 x 254 x 39mm | 1,497g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 32 Halftones, black and white
  • 1421409739
  • 9781421409733
  • 348,678

Back cover copy

Lincoln Prize, Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College
Cowinner, Book Award, Abraham Lincoln Institute
Russell P. Strange Book Award, Illinois State Historical Society
PROSE Award for Best Book in U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers
Named One of the 5 Best Books of 2009 by The Atlantic
Named One of the 10 Top Lincoln Books by Chicago Tribune

In the first multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln to be published in decades, Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame offers a fresh look at the life of one of America's greatest presidents. Incorporating the field notes of earlier biographers, along with decades of research in multiple manuscript archives and long-neglected newspapers, this remarkable work will both alter and reinforce current understanding of America's sixteenth president.

Volume 1 covers Lincoln's early childhood, his experiences as a farm boy in Indiana and Illinois, his troubled relationship with his father, his legal training, the political ambition that led to a term in Congress in the 1840s, and the great personal transformation he experienced in the mid-1850s.

"A magisterial enterprise."--William Safire, New York Times

"No review could do complete justice to the magnificent two-volume biography that has been so well-wrought by Michael Burlingame."--Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Monthly

"The author knows more about Lincoln than any other living person."--James McPherson, New York Review of Books

"This book supplants [Carl] Sandburg and supersedes all other biographies. Future Lincoln books cannot be written without it, and from no other book can a general reader learn so much about Abraham Lincoln. It is the essential title for the bicentennial."--James L. Swanson, Publishers Weekly

"Burlingame is a towering figure in Lincoln scholarship, and students of the 16th president have been waiting for this book for years. For all his learning--Burlingame may know more about Lincoln and his era than anyone in the world--his take on his subject is fresh, and he doesn't gloss over Lincoln's less appealing attributes. Abraham Lincoln comes as close to being the definitive biography as anything the world has seen in decades."--Time
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Table of contents

Author's Note1. "I Have Seen a Good Deal of the Back Side of This World": Childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816)2. "I Used to Be a Slave": Boyhood and Adolescence in Indiana (1816-1830)3. "Separated from His Father, He Studied English Grammar": New Salem (1831-1834)4. "A Napoleon of Astuteness and Political Finesse": Frontier Legislator (1834-1837)5. "We Must Fight the Devil with Fire": Slasher-Gaff Politico in Springfield (1837-1841)6. "It Would Just Kill Me to Marry Mary Todd": Courtship and Marriage (1840-1842)7. "I Have Got the Preacher by the Balls": Pursuing a Seat in Congress (1843-1847)8. "A Strong but Judicious Enemy to Slavery": Congressman Lincoln (1847-1849)9. "I Was Losing Interest in Politics and Went to the Practice of the Law with Greater Earnestness Than Ever Before": Midlife Crisis (1849-1854)10. "Aroused as He Had Never Been Before": Reentering Politics (1854-1855)11. "Unite with Us, and Help Us to Triumph": Building the Illinois Republican Party (1855-1857)12. "A House Divided": Lincoln vs. Douglas (1857-1858)13. A David Greater than the Democratic Goliath": The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1858)14. "That Presidential Grub Gnaws Deep": Pursuing the Republican Nomination (1859-1860)15. "The Most Available Presidential Candidate for Unadulterated Republicans": The Chicago Convention (May 1860)16. "I Have Been Elected Mainly on the Cry 'Honest Old Abe'": The Presidential Campaign (May-November 1860)17. "I Will Suffer Death Before I Will Consent to Any Concession or Compromise": President-elect in Springfield (1860-1861)18. "What If I Appoint Cameron, Whose Very Name Stinks in the Nostrils of the People for His Corruption?": Cabinet-Making in Springfield (1860-1861)NotesIndex
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Review quote

This book supplants [Carl] Sandburg and supersedes all other biographies. Future Lincoln books cannot be written without it, and from no other book can a general reader learn so much about Abraham Lincoln. It is the essential title for the bicentennial. -- James L. Swanson * Publishers Weekly * A complete view of Lincoln's life... thorough. -- Diane Cole * U.S. News & World Report * A monumental boxed effort that weighs in at 10 pounds... The result is a picture of Lincoln from all sides, in a style that is relentless but not daunting. * Bloomberg News * A magisterial enterprise. -- William Safire * New York Times * If you aspire to Ultimate Lincoln Knowledge this is a must-read. * Chicago Tribune * These monumental volumes deserve a wide readership. * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Burlingame is a towering figure in Lincoln scholarship, and students of the 16th president have been waiting for this book for years. For all his learning-Burlingame may know more about Lincoln and his era than anyone in the world-his take on his subject is fresh, and he doesn't gloss over Lincoln's less appealing attributes. Abraham Lincoln comes as close to being the definitive biography as anything the world has seen in decades. * Time.com * An exhaustive and stylishly written biography. -- Greg Rienzi * Gazette * A stunning feat of research. -- Michael F. Bishop * Publishers Weekly * The two-volume set is being heralded as the ultimate new biography of Lincoln, an essential work to be used by all future biographers of the 16th president. -- Anne Byle * Grand Rapids Press * The granddaddy of all the recent books [on Lincoln] is Michael Burlingame's Abraham Lincoln: A Life... monumental in size, depth and scholarship, this is the new standard biography of our time and surpasses all other life portraits of our 16th president, and is the most important book of the bicentennial. -- James L. Swanson * Washington Times * No review could do complete justice to the magnificent two-volume biography that has been so well-wrought by Michael Burlingame. -- Christopher Hitchens * Atlantic Monthly * The bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth has generated a plethora of Lincoln-related items, but none impresses more than this two-volume biography... Essential. * Choice * The author knows more about Lincoln than any other living person. -- James McPherson * New York Review of Books * Most thorough account of the development of Lincoln as a man and politician against the backdrop of America's struggle to mature as an idea and a nation... Not a Lincoln for our times, but the Lincoln of his times, and future biographers would do well to take note(s). * Books and Culture: A Christian Review * This magisterial work tells a rich, thoroughly documented, birth-to-death story of America's greatest president. Its bulk is formidable, but it holds countless rewards for undaunted readers. -- Jane Henderson * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Burlingame very likely knows more about Lincoln than anyone who's ever lived, including Mary Todd, and his biography, 20 years in the writing, has a revelation on every page, dug out during the biographer's tireless research into musty libraries and forgotten attics that no one has ever thought to look in before. If there is anything knowable that you want to know about Lincoln, this is the place to find it. -- Andrew Ferguson * American Spectator * A monumental and meticulous two-volume study of the 16th president... should be required reading for anyone seriously interested in Lincoln. -- Mark Bowden * Atlantic *
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About Michael Burlingame

Michael Burlingame is Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. He is the author or editor of several books about Lincoln, including Lincoln Observed: Civil War Dispatches of Noah Brooks, published by Johns Hopkins, and The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln.
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Rating details

124 ratings
4.54 out of 5 stars
5 63% (78)
4 28% (35)
3 9% (11)
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