Saturday, February 13, 2010

Five best books on Abraham Lincoln

Michael Burlingame, holder of the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life (2 vols.; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) and The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about Abraham Lincoln.

One title on the list:
Honor's Voice
by Douglas L. Wilson
Knopf, 1998

In "Honor's Voice," Douglas L. Wilson traces "the transformation of Abraham Lincoln," from his entrance into the village of New Salem, Ill., as a 22-year-old "piece of floating driftwood" (as Lincoln described himself) to his marriage to Mary Todd 11 years later. Wilson offers a detailed account of the wrestling match that won Lincoln the respect of his fellow New Salemites and that would become a prominent feature in the legend of his rise. The author is especially good on Lincoln's courtship of Mary Todd and their mysteriously broken engagement: Her betrothed simply realized that he and Mary were incompatible, but in the end he did marry her, mainly out of a sense of honor. Paying careful attention to primary sources, Wilson brings a fresh eye to this comprehensive view of Lincoln's path to maturity. The route was not so smooth as once supposed, but rather was full of setbacks and disappointments.
Read about all five books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue