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A. Lincoln

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  9,045 Ratings  ·  298 Reviews

The Washington Post • The Philadelphia Inquirer • The Christian Science Monitor • St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name “A. Lincoln.” In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln a
Hardcover, 816 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
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Drew McLaughlin The nuance of Lincoln's approach to the political issues of his day, namely slavery, will likely be difficult for her to follow. Content-wise there…moreThe nuance of Lincoln's approach to the political issues of his day, namely slavery, will likely be difficult for her to follow. Content-wise there really isn't anything that would be inappropriate.(less)

Community Reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 16, 2009 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
An excellent one-volume biography of Lincoln, written in a clear, elegant style and concentrating on essentials. White is particular good on Lincoln the writer. I learned a lot from this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in Lincoln.
Jul 15, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
Some years ago, during the run-up to the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, I started casting about for the ideal book on the greatest president in history. That is easier said than done. The problem is not one of quantity, but quality. As it turned out, finding the right Lincoln bio is like finding the perfect cup of water in a lake. It’s tough to choose. Eventually, and to the detriment of my credit card, I purchased Michael Burlingame’s massive two-volume, 2,000 page opus on the Illinoi ...more
May 10, 2009 Elaine rated it it was amazing
I am a Lincoln buff and have read myriad biographies of the man, ranging fron his ardent admirers to his worst detractors. So, reading yet another one seemed redundant, but I did it anyway, and I'm glad I did. The first few pages start out with the usual retelling of his humble beginnings, but soon the revelations and insights begin. White searched through Lincoln's own notes to himself on every conceivable issue, and bases this new bio on them. Lincoln had a lifelong habit of writing down his t ...more
May 26, 2010 Gina rated it really liked it
I thought this was an excellent biography of Lincoln. I loved that it didn't seem in any way salacious. It didn't dwell on his marriage or depression or relationships with his parents. It did dwell on his writings and speeches and spent time discussing his rhetoric, poetry, and influences, and this was so much more appealing. I thought White handled the civil war amazingly well; I am no history buff and although I needed reminding of many of the important battles and their significance, I felt r ...more
Chad Sayban
Dec 16, 2012 Chad Sayban rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook-book, good, own
In so many ways, I really enjoyed this biography of Abraham Lincoln. I learned a great deal about his upbringing, the challenges he had early in his life and the number of choices he had to make - and sometimes reverse - before becoming the savior of the Union. A. Lincoln also shined a spotlight on the conditions of the American Midwest in the middle of the nineteenth century as the pressures of an expanding country ran into the pull of slavery. This biography does an outstanding job of portrayi ...more
May 06, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it

“A. Lincoln: A Biography” is Ronald White, Jr.‘s 2009 biography of Abraham Lincoln. White is the author of seven other books including two previous books on Lincoln. He is a graduate of UCLA and Princeton Theological Seminary and is a Visiting Professor of History at UCLA. He is currently working on a biography of Ulysses S. Grant, to be published in early 2015.

There is certainly no shortage of biographies of Abraham Lincoln. So it is high praise that Whit
Jason Horejs
Mar 13, 2011 Jason Horejs rated it it was amazing
Though I have long been an avid reader of history - I admit I have generally avoided anything related to the Civil War/Abraham Lincoln. This probably stems from my childhood when I somehow came to the conclusion that the Civil War was . . . boring. I simply couldn't work up any interest - I was much more likely to be interested in Greek or Roman history, 20th century American history, etc. etc.

I changed my mind last summer when I had the opportunity to visit the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Il
Mar 24, 2012 Brian rated it did not like it

I don't know why this got recommended so highly. In fact, I don't know why White wrote this book at all, since it adds almost nothing to Lincoln scholarship. It was just astonishing to see entire topics go unmentioned in this 600+ page doorstop--a book that was billed as *the* authoritative Lincoln of our time.

Interested in the debate over Lincoln's depression? How about his marriage, or his (hetero/a/homo-)sexuality? Or perhaps his management of foreign policy and Reconstruction during the
Greg Moye
Oct 14, 2012 Greg Moye rated it it was amazing
I consider myself an amateur historian of the civil war, so I keep looking for great books on the subject. As much as I knew about Lincoln before this book, I had actually not read a full biography of the man before. This was a big learning experience for me, especially his formative years as a young man in the midwest. We like to look back at "Lincoln, the Myth," this stern resolute figure who championed the saving of the union; however, the truth reveals a much different picture. Lincoln, judg ...more
Mar 19, 2010 Dick rated it really liked it
You know when you start thinking that no one can tell you anything new about A. Lincoln . . . comes a book like this.

The book is just excellent. The author takes you through Lincoln's life, his evolution as a man, a politician, public servant and with special interest to me and my play . . . his evolution spiritually.

The author also covers Lincoln's use of the language, the words he used, the sources of those words (many from the Bible)and his intellectual honesty and growth.

If you are a Linco
Jan 13, 2009 Joe rated it it was amazing
With this year being the 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, numerous scholars have come out with new material focusing on our most revered President. Ronald White's contribution to this anniversary is a one volume biography, and in my mind, it has to be the best this year. Lincoln is without question a fascinating study, and White's biography of him is one of my personal favorites.

With White's background, a combination of historical and theological study, he emerges to me as one a few
Robert D. Cornwall
Abraham Lincoln is an iconic figure. Considered to be among the greatest, if not the greatest President, of the United States. During much of his Presidency he was considered by many to be anything but great. After all, he presided over the disintegration of a nation and had placed thousands in harms way. Having no executive experience when he took office he had to learn on the job, and for the entirety of his presidency was consumed by the need to guide the war effort. It wasn't until Grant too ...more
Larry Jebsen
Jul 26, 2012 Larry Jebsen rated it it was amazing
I don't like to hand out 5 stars, but this book required it. A. Lincoln, the president, has always been about surface knowledge. I thought I knew a lot. I stand corrected. The book appears thicker than it is to read, because of 200 plus pages of end notes and an extensive bibliography. Fascinating to me was to watch the intellectual, political, and spiritual growth of Lincoln. The seeds all existed from the beginning, but became more refine and in depth, as his life and presidency evolved. Truly ...more
Romel Mora
Feb 26, 2016 Romel Mora rated it really liked it
Excellent narrative chronicling the life of our 16th -and arguably best- president. The book emphasizes Lincoln's humble beginnings as a boy from Illinois, in the most astound way. White finds a way to accent the particular momentous points in his life with such ethos and detail, that it stays vibrant in the minds of the most easily distracted readers. White also uses detail to describe the minute parts of Lincolns life that give careful readers insight into the thoughts and motivations that dro ...more
Thomas Rush
Mar 01, 2015 Thomas Rush rated it it was amazing
When a writer first puts his pen to paper, there are a number of things that are being sought. More than anything else, a writer wrestles with how to take something as complex, vast and comprehensive as reality and reduce it into little, black, written letters printed on paper. The writer wants to do this in such a way that the reader, when it is taken in, will use mental powers of the imagination, filter it, and then visualize it within so that it mirrors the original reality. For the Historian ...more
Jeremy Perron
Mar 22, 2014 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing
Written in time for President Lincoln's bicentennial year, Ronald White's new Lincoln biography tells the story of the Nation's sixteenth president. The book that this one is most compared to is David Herbert Donald's Lincoln from 1995. I like both of these works. Donald prepared more information on Lincoln and the world around him, while White has smother narrative that is strong enough for someone who reads a great deal of history but not overwhelming for a newcomer. Both are good they are jus ...more
May 24, 2014 Nathan rated it did not like it
A big book about a big man, though the book turns out to have much less substance than it's subject.
Broad to a fault-- indeed, it's breadth is it's biggest failing-- "A. Lincoln" purports to reveal the man behind that signature.
The set pieces are all here: here is Lincoln the industrious youth, here is Lincoln the self-made railsplitter, here is Lincoln the talented young attorney, and most of all, here is Lincoln the shrewd and able politician. All these roles have been accounted to Lincoln i
Feb 27, 2013 Philipp rated it it was amazing
Easily my favorite non-fiction book of the year (so far).

It details the life of Abraham Lincoln from birth to death, focusing almost exclusively on what Lincoln thought and did, not much space is given to contemporaries. When there is a quote from an political opponent or from a newspaper, it's about Lincoln. In a way, that's good - I can't remember more than five names at once, anyway.

It's a relatively thick, very detailed book, but it's never truly dry and boring - rather, the myriads of quote
Aug 03, 2009 Wendy rated it it was ok
I really wanted to read a good bio about Abraham Lincoln. I know so little about one of America's most reverred presidents. However it seems that most biographies are either 700-1000 pages or 100 page bios for elementary school children. Why can't someone write a good 300-400 page bio? I don't need to know the text of every letter he ever wrote...

This bio on Lincoln assumed you knew the major historical points of the civil war, which I do not. It mentioned historical events with a one sentence e
James Korsmo
In this full-scale biography of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald White does a great job of conveying both the brilliance and the humanity of this great president. As you would expect, White chronicles Lincoln's upbringing, his education (or lack thereof), and his entry into the law profession. It is clear that these years set the stage for what is to come, as you can see the character that will become so essential to his success being formed. White chronicles Lincoln's early forays into politics, his tim ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Mayank rated it liked it
"A. Lincoln" took me very long to finish. I'm not sure why but I found that I went through phases in really enjoying this book and finding it to be a drag.

I believe that Ronald C. White knows his subject very well. But the fact that he didn't cover the flaws of Mary Lincoln or Abraham Lincoln's supposed homosexuality was a bit nuts, especially as I felt there was build-up in the beginning of the book to righting the misconceptions about Lincoln. This was my first Lincoln biography, so I can't co
Nov 06, 2009 Dave rated it it was amazing
An unqualified "five star" effort by Ronald White that I expect will become the definitive biography of our 16th President. But the value of this book is the in depth analysis of Lincoln's writings, letters, and speeches where he penetrates to the soul of the man and brings him to life as an innovater who changed the course of America and brought real meaning to the words in the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal". One is forced to wonder how different America might be ...more
Nov 29, 2010 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
What I love about this biography of Lincoln is the analysis of his speeches. The author has written two books about Lincoln's great speeches so you could call him a premier expert on the subject. He has studied both Lincoln's public and private writings and convincingly gets to the heart of our sixteenth president.
If you want to learn the art of persuasion, study this book as it expounds on Lincoln's powerful use of the podium. For example:
• Lincoln’s eloquence stemmed from legal knowledge and
Jason Schneeberger
Jul 20, 2015 Jason Schneeberger rated it it was amazing
Having poured over several books on Abraham Lincoln as of late, I can safely say that Ronald C. White Jr's A.LINCOLN is by far the best portrait of not only one of the greatest presidents America has ever elected, but also one of the greatest human beings that has ever walked the earth. This book is not biased; it portrays Lincoln in a very real, honest and flawed manner. He was not perfect, there are questionable decisions that he made while leading the Union to victory during the Civil War, bu ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Apr 15, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-june-2009

Having already written two books on Abraham Lincoln, Ronald C. White, Jr., understands better than most the challenges in bringing a fresh perspective to the most scrutinized president in American history. With 16,000 books, and counting, on Lincoln (as well as several dozen more in the period before the bicentennial celebration of his birth), the ground that remains to be covered is disappearing before scholars' eyes. But White, who draws on his own thorough research of the recently available L

Apr 12, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
I do not know enough to weigh in on how this biography compares to some of the others (James M. McPherson says it’s “the best since David Donald’s 1995 Lincoln”). My friend Elliot Trummold, a Lincoln scholar, among other roles, attests that it is “solid and well done.” And various reviews say it’s one of the best one volume works on Lincoln. They know more than I.

But I was enthralled by it. Initially I thought I was taken in by the audio version (read by Bill Weideman) as I felt I was listening
Apr 04, 2009 Jackie rated it really liked it
From humble beginnings to a respected and admired president, Abraham Lincoln was a master of the message with insightful, precise words. A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White, Jr. is a well-researched biography of importance. Only by divine providence and shear determination did Lincoln guide and lead this country during its most tumultuous historical period. So many details are brought to the reader of this book that are beyond the cursory introductions of an American History class. He was ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable. I enjoy biographies, but not usually Presidential ones. Having read a fascinating book on Mary Todd Lincoln, I decided to read this to get more insight on her story. I was simply blown away. This is so incredibly well crafted, not just the writing but the inclusion of pictures, handwritten copies of letters and speeches, not in a separate section but on the relevant pages. The author doesn't just report what was said, but attempts to explain Lincoln's thinking and thought processes ...more
Rick Hautala
Aug 11, 2009 Rick Hautala rated it liked it
Don't get me wrong. This is a good book ... a VERY good book, but I feel something's lacking ... I can't quite put my finger on it, but for all its insight and research, I still think "Honest Abe" is a bit elusive in this book ... Maybe it's because he was so complex in life NO book could ever capture him entirely. Although I enjoyed the read (very smooth) and I knocked the book off in about a week, I feel like I had appetizers, not a full meal.
Aug 14, 2010 Jack added it
That Lincoln was up against a nation divided, he was an unknown when he debated Stephen Douglas. The secession, the border states, slavery, ways of life, state's rights.That to this day with all the wars we fought in the amount of men lost , killed in action still doesn;'t equal what we lost in the Civil War.
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“Abraham’s first teacher24 in Indiana was Andrew Crawford. In addition to teaching spelling and grammar, he instructed the children in courtesy and manners, including the art of introducing and receiving guests. A student would leave the schoolhouse, and as he or she reentered another student would introduce the guest to all the children in the room.” 1 likes
“first impressions of Lincoln.” 1 likes
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