“A breathtaking new view of Abraham Lincoln.” —The National Memo “Illuminating…[an] instant classic.” —The Daily Beast “Engrossing” —Library Journal
The first of a multi-volume history of Lincoln as a political genius—from his obscure beginnings to his presidency, assassination, and the overthrow of his post-Civil War dreams of Reconstruction. This first volume traces Lincoln from his painful youth, describing himself as “a slave,” to his emergence as the man we recognize as Abraham Lincoln.
From his youth as a “newsboy,” a voracious newspaper reader, Lincoln became a free thinker, reading Tom Paine, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible, and studying Euclid to sharpen his arguments as a lawyer.
Lincoln’s anti-slavery thinking began in his childhood amidst the Primitive Baptist antislavery dissidents in backwoods Kentucky and Indiana, the roots of his repudiation of Southern Christian pro-slavery theology. Intensely ambitious, he held political aspirations from his earliest years. Obsessed with Stephen Douglas, his political rival, he battled him for decades. Successful as a circuit lawyer, Lincoln built his team of loyalists. Blumenthal reveals how Douglas and Jefferson Davis acting together made possible Lincoln’s rise.
Blumenthal describes a socially awkward suitor who had a nervous breakdown over his inability to deal with the opposite sex. His marriage to the upper class Mary Todd was crucial to his social aspirations and his political career. Blumenthal portrays Mary as an asset to her husband, a rare woman of her day with strong political opinions.
Blumenthal’s robust portrayal is based on prodigious research of Lincoln’s record and of the period and its main players. It reflects both Lincoln’s time and the struggle that consumes our own political debate.
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The book is a thorough and well-written introduction of the man Lincoln was before he became president. There is a lot of new information, which is surprising, considering how many books have been written about him. I found this one to be totally engrossing. I was pleased to hear there will be additional volumes because this one left me wanting more. I highly recommend it.
This is a superb start on what promises to be a major new biographical treatment of Lincoln, and it could not come at a better time, what with the Republican Party struggling to find its way forward in today's troubled political climate. Blumenthal is a skilled historian and graceful writer. Michael Burlingame's big two-volume biography of a few years ago seemed to read like a compilation of stories and anecdotes about Lincoln. Blumenthal's first volume is driven by a clear and convincing analysis of the political education of young Abraham Lincoln. One point he emphasizes is how early Lincoln came to his moral condemnation of slavery. The influences were all around him, including the Baptist churches of the frontier Midwest. Long before his fabled trip to New Orleans, where he first beheld the sale of human flesh, Lincoln was predisposed against slavery. Blumenthal also makes the case for Lincoln as a Deist, a religious skeptic who saw the fire and brimstone religion of his youth as...
The strength of this treatment of Lincoln's first four decades is its immersion in American politics of the period, the environment surrounding him and in which Lincoln grew up as a politician.in a fashion reminiscent of Robert Caro's "Path to Power," the first volume of his multi decade, multi volume Lyndon Johnson, Blumenthal takes us down the tangents of the lives and ideas of the other historical figures most relevant to that of his protagonist. In this book, these include, for example, most vividly catching hold of the major strands of personal ambition, racism, and cupidity intertwined in the all too influential life of John C. Calhoun and the apple cider crispness of the opposition he faced from John Quincy Adams. It's Lincoln is a practical politician, animated by a need to strive with his fellow men as a matter of personal psychology and of moral obligation. Too familiar territory? The writing is clean, self assured, and line by line filled with just enough freshening...
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