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Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Library of Religious Biography)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  236 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
An enlightening "intellectual biography" of Lincoln, Allen Guelzo's peerless account of America's most celebrated president explores the role of ideas in Lincoln's life, treating him as a serious thinker deeply involved in the nineteenth-century debates over politics, religion, and culture. Written with passion and dramatic impact, Guelzo's masterful study offers a reveali ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published December 20th 2002 by Eerdmans (first published September 1st 1999)
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Mark L.
Dec 25, 2016 Mark L. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, 2016
Nothing less than a tour-de-force. I'm tempted to say that only a religious person—particularly a Christian—could understand this almost certainly unbelieving politician and thinker. Guelzo finds a theme in Lincoln's theology that he, successfully in my opinion, traces throughout his life, namely a predestinarianism shorn of belief in God's personal goodness to Lincoln himself. This fatalistic theology guided Lincoln into making the most difficult decisions of the war. This is the key insight fr ...more
Urey Patrick
Apr 06, 2014 Urey Patrick rated it really liked it
Abraham Lincoln is one of my historical heroes – perhaps my favorite historical figure. I would not have thought much new or fresh could be written about Lincoln, but Allen Guelzo proves me wrong. This book is less a biography or a history, and more a narrative Lincoln’s intellectual and spiritual evolution through the course of his life set against a background of his life and career, both antebellum and during the war. It is a subtle and deep examination of Lincoln’s moral, religious, politica ...more
Oct 12, 2008 Tim rated it it was amazing
Guelzo's book is an excellent intellectual biography that firmly sets Lincoln within the context of his times, while not diminishing him to that context. Lincoln's Whig commitments to personal and national development are set against his subsistence farming, Democratic upbringing. His providentialial view of history and historical status (post assassination) as Redeemer President are set against his own inability to either claim faith and redemption for himself or escape the Calvinistic determi ...more
Spencer Cummins
Dec 04, 2012 Spencer Cummins rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I enjoyed Guelzo's biography even more than Donald and Carwardine. In Guelzo's account we find the tension in Lincoln's mind of a war that in governed by the control of God's providential oversight. Yet, this kind of view partly taken from his hard shell Baptist upbringing does not bring much solace for Lincoln. Guelzo does well to bring out the Whig political struggles and the political setbacks that Lincoln faced in a continual basis.

We also get personal insight from Lincoln's friends and pub
Aug 19, 2011 Raffi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A very interesting book not only about Abraham Lincoln, but a more holistic approach about the world he lived in, the USA at that time, the political parties, the religious understanding of the time, etc. Mind you that the author's language is more difficult and has an in depth approach. Sometimes I read a section more than once to comprehend the author's mind.
I don't recommend that you start with this book, if you want to understand Abraham Lincoln.
May 06, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it

“Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President” is Allen Guelzo’s 1999 biography of Abraham Lincoln which was awarded the 2000 Lincoln Prize. Guelzo is a Professor and Director of Civil War Era studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of over a dozen books, most of which are focused on Abraham Lincoln or other aspects of the Civil War.

Often described as an “intellectual biography” Guelzo’s book is certainly not a traditional review of Lincoln’s life. Rather t
Dec 01, 2015 Fred rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war
Allen C Guelzo’s biography of Lincoln is a helpful addition to the study of this great President. This is an intellectual biography that charts the development of Lincoln’s philosophy of government, economics, emancipation and the Constitution from his early days working for his father to the Presidency. Guelzo, professor of history at Gettysburg College, examines Lincoln as a man of thought, a man whose philosophical convictions guided his behavior. He shows that Lincoln was never strictly a pr ...more
Feb 02, 2012 Don rated it really liked it
Having another view of this great president past what I learned in school as a child and young adult lends quite a perspective of how we got to where we are in America. I think my original school-delivered knowledge of Lincoln was slightly idolized, but for good reason. He was truly a great man. I think the main thing I was missing was a good perspective of the times. We think our world is evil sometimes, I in fact heard that very assertion today. No doubt the world is evil, but it has been sinc ...more
May 20, 2011 Nathan rated it it was ok
A big chunk of a book, fun to chew through but a bit hard to digest. I mentally subtitled Guelzo's book "An Ethical Biography", as the overarching theme (at least ostensibly) is the philosophical makeup of Abraham Lincoln. The utility and relevance of such a theme is obvious: Lincoln helmed America through her greatest social and moral crisis-- what then, guided the guide? The answer, as given by Guelzo, is not a simple one.

He comes to his point rather slowly, leaving aside the issues of religi
The author begins by asserting that this is the first biography of Abraham Lincoln which takes him seriously as a man of ideas. There are two problems with this claim. First, it is over-egging the pudding, as previous books on Lincoln did take his political ideology seriously. Second, for a book claiming to be an intellectual history it contains comparatively little intellectual history within its 463 pages of text. What intellectual history it does contain is excellent, however.

I suspect that
Zena Ryder
Apr 20, 2014 Zena Ryder rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I very much enjoyed this biography. It focused more on the development of Lincoln's thought, including his religious beliefs (and lack of them) than the other biography I've read (A. Lincoln). According to Guelzo, Lincoln's religious beliefs became stronger during the trials of the Civil War, but he was never as devout as he wanted to be, and he never felt worthy of redemption. While he seems always to have believed in God to a greater or lesser degree, he was never much of a church-goer and he ...more
Aaron Million
Oct 19, 2015 Aaron Million rated it it was ok
Guelzo is a noted Civil War and Lincoln scholar, having won the Lincoln Prize three times. This is not a traditional biography of Lincoln. Instead, it is more of an intellectual and religious biography. Given that, the Civil War, along with most of its major players, is treated perfunctorily except in situations that specifically demanded a review of Lincoln's thought process (example: the firing of General George McClellan after repeated missed opportunities to attack the Confederate Army of No ...more
Jan 02, 2017 Cody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Whenever the day comes for him to appear, the man who shall be the Redeemer President of These States, is to be the one that fullest realizes the rights of individuals, signified by the impregnable rights of The States, the substratum of this Union." -Abe's buddy Walt.

The best part of this book is its commentary on the religious beliefs of Lincoln. The author walks a difficult line, and avoids falling to either side. His descriptions of Lincoln's struggles with the inscrutability (that word is
Greg Van Vorhis
Feb 16, 2017 Greg Van Vorhis rated it did not like it
The author promises to look at Lincoln in a way nobody ever has...that this book is unique. And then he proceeds to write the same biography that you have read over and over and over again.
Aug 09, 2011 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me FOREVER to get into this book. First, the narrator was so irritating and robotic that I kept falling asleep listening to the book. Second, I thought Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingamewas thorough. I think this author took writing lessons from Burlingame. There was details in this book that I was wondering what it had to do with Lincoln's religion. Then, something snapped as it all came together and it was that the author was painting a very clear picture into what went into ...more
Oct 05, 2016 Frederick rated it really liked it
This is a very good study of Lincoln's "Christianity" although not the most interesting I've read. Lincoln was an Enlightenment Christian, a believer in a far off God of judgment who did not love or offer redemption. His ways are inscrutable and mankind is helpless before him. On page 447 Guelzo calls Lincoln's religion "Calvinized Deism." This is certainly an important book for students of American religious history. Many of the threads the author draws together reveal why evangelical Christian ...more
Gordon Leidner
Dec 31, 2016 Gordon Leidner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the best Lincoln biography I've read, and I've read dozens. Guelzo does an excellent analysis of Lincoln's intellectual and spiritual development. We watch him develop in social skills, politics, law, economic policy, and faith. We not only see the how, but the WHY of Lincoln. Politically, he was always a Whig at heart. He hated slavery, we know. But WHY did he hate slavery? We watch him spring from his Calvinist roots, become a skeptic, and then return to his faith as he contemplated th ...more
Jan 25, 2009 Tako added it
Shelves: read-2008-2009
I read this book because I needede more information about Abraham Lincoln, for my history project, but I really liked the way Guelzo wrote biography of the president Abraham Lincoln. He also used a lot of quotes, and like many other fellow writers, he also used very provocative diction to engage the reader with the story of 16th president of the united states of america, Abraham Lincoln. Author focuses about the whole life of the president, but he also accentuated Lincoln's ideas about the Unio ...more
Not your traditional biography, more of an attempt to explain Lincoln's thought processes and the events and intellectual influences that got him there. An interesting view and I learned a great deal that I hadn't known before, including Lincoln's almost total disinterest in Christianity. (Don't believe me? Read the book.) But I have to admit that the book dragged a bit from time to time and might have worked better as a dip-into-occasionally volume rather than a due-in-two-weeks library book.

Jeremy Touma
Apr 29, 2014 Jeremy Touma rated it liked it
This intellectual biography of Lincoln depicts much of his life and how it affects him in different ways. We see his philosophies behind religion and his presidency but the entire book seems to be too open ended. Guelzo seems to like to jump from topic to topic without ever closing something. One thing that was much more real and very well depicted in the book, however, was the military side of Lincoln. Guelzo manages to vividly show the hardships and the toll the war took on the morale of every ...more
Sep 21, 2007 Keith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in Presidential history
A different prespective on Lincoln than most biographies. A look at his religious background from the strict Calvinism and predestinationof his youth, the "apostasy" (by 19th century standards) of no religious beliefs in his young adulthood to his complex religious appeals in the Civil War and the eerie but majestic second inaugural in 1865.

If you are interested in Lincoln from a different perspective than the usual political and biographical entries in this category (I think only Napoleon has
Dec 03, 2013 Alexandre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it took fifty odd pages to get into it, I really liked this book because it did more than recite Abraham Lincoln's life: the author skillfully paints the details of the cultural and intellectual ideas that make up the scenery of 19th century American life. From this vivid background I better understand how Lincoln impacted his era. I also appreciated the care taken to not idolize nor radicalize the man needlessly. I look forward to reading more of Allen C. Guelzo's helpful works.
Nov 13, 2008 Donna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lincolnophiles
This was an amazing book that explored Lincoln's intellectual and religious background. It explores his thought on many fronts and emphasizes Lincoln's place as a Whig politician with a Whig political philosophy... antithetical to both Jackson AND Jefferson. Lincoln is a model life-long learner and you can see the benefit in his evolving thought in his writing and speeches. A true intellectual biography that actually opens up new understanding of Lincoln.
Bauer Evans
Dr. Guelzo is a Lincoln scholar up to the task of exploring Lincoln relationship with Christianity without slipping into either extreme of hagiography or cynicism. Best book I have read to date on Lincoln's spirituality. It is a labor of love to work through it; this is not popular 'writing' on a par with McCullough or Goodwin. But neither is not boring.
Kimberly Graham
Feb 21, 2016 Kimberly Graham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
This book was absolutely fantastic in describing the life and mind of Abraham Lincoln. I had to read this in order to write a speech depicting Lincoln as honorable in mind and character. I feel as though I truly knew Lincoln and the daunting task laid before him.
Sep 07, 2014 J. added it
This is a provocative new biography of Lincoln. It not only sheds new light on him by putting him in the context of Whig politics, it also makes sense of his complicated but very real spiritual life. And Guelzo's writing is terrific.
Dec 16, 2007 K.C. rated it really liked it
I really enjoy this book---the subject matter as well as the book itself. He really lives up to the hype. I wish there were more men, white and black like him in the world.
Scott Graham
Apr 18, 2012 Scott Graham rated it it was amazing
The best book on Lincoln I've read. Very insightful history on Lincoln's spiritual formation and beliefs, which I've always been fascinated and confused by.
Jan 04, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Easy to read; extremely informative, insightful and unique portrayal of one of the most popular U.S. presidents.
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Allen Carl Guelzo (born 1953) is the Henry R. Luce III Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College, where he serves as Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program.
More about Allen C. Guelzo...

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