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Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  2,421 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Civil War and history buffs--as well as all lovers of fine writing--will delight in the detail and accuracy of Carl Sandburg's definitive, best-known biography of "Honest Abe". Representing a lifetime of study by the great American poet, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years distills Sandburg's monumental six volume set into a single one-book edition. By gle
Hardcover, 776 pages
Published September 28th 2005 by Galahad (first published 1954)
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Steven Peterson
This is a biography of Lincoln by the esteemed poet Carl Sandburg. I was born just up the road, US Route 34 (in Kewanee), from his home town of Galesburg, Illinois. Thus, I have always had a soft spot for this version of Lincoln's life

As a poet, Sandburg's version tends to be more epic and mythical--and less critical--in its examination of Lincoln. For all of that, the book still works well. The first part, "The Prairie Years," recounts Lincoln's youth and early career before he attained the pr
Look, there are obviously lots of Lincoln biographies out there, and I have read many of them, but after having read this book, I have concluded that the others are merely imitations of Sandburg (some of them very good imitations, certainly, and worth your time, but imitations nonetheless).

Consider that this book is a condensed version of Sandburg's six-volume (!) biography of Lincoln, and you realize that its level of detail is merely suggestive of the detail to be found in the six-volume set.
Abraham Lincoln lived before he became a politician. He farmed, he worked on the Mississippi River hauling freight, he labored with ordinary people. He truly was born in a cabin with a dirt floor. He had no benefit of an education, but devoured every book that he could get his hands on, eventually becoming a lawyer. This unabridged version of his biography chronicles every part of his professional life. Lincoln was a man with a dry sense of humor. He was a great storyteller. He was a modest man. ...more
4/13 - My mother bought me the 6-volume Sangamon edition at an old bookstore in Sonoma, CA. I opened the first red-bound volume of "The Prairie Years" on Lincoln's 200th birthday after visiting his birthplace in Hodgenville and then driving across Kentucky to Springfield, IL. I started "The War Years" in 2010, 150 years after Lincoln's first election in 1860, and have pretty much kept pace a volume at a time, following his presidency 150 years later. So I just finished Volume Four, covering 1863 ...more
Oct 20, 2014 Pete rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, usa
I've been reading a lot this year, and the more books I pore over, the more disgruntled I become. It was in reading this book, strangely, that I realized the possible cause: the range of narrative voice employed by authors (especially contemporary "literary" ones) is extremely limited. The opening few pages of Sandburg's second of three volumes on Lincoln reads like his poetry, which reads a lot like Whitman's poetry. It is flowing, free and expansive, lyrical. The rest reads like a history book ...more
It is easy to see why Carl Sandburg's account of Abraham Lincoln is so beloved, since it focuses so much on Lincoln the folk hero. I enjoyed this book a lot, though its style (kind of a Thomas Wolfe rip off) got on my nerves after a while.

Two Lincoln anecdotes I highlighted, which give a good sense of the book's tone:

"Protests of innocence often came from men plainly guilty. They reminded Lincoln of a governor who visited a state prison. The convicts one by one had the same story of innocence an
This such a great book, and it made me fall in love with Mr. Lincoln.
Wow....what a great book. I figured before I allowed Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis to poison my mind with their view of Lincoln, I'd go to the source and read this Pulitzer Prize winning bio. I'm glad I did. Sandburg is a great writer in the same vein as Barbara Tuchman and William Manchester. He paints a vivid portrait of Lincoln....I highly recommend this book. You may not learn a lot you didn't know, but I guarantee you that you will put the book down and think deeply about matters. What a g ...more
Jan 28, 2009 Wendee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Americans
My kids and I have taken an interest in Abe Lincoln and have enjoyed the illustrations as well as the stories in this book. In fact, we used it in our family's Memorial Day devotional, which was very powerful in educating us about those who have gone before and what they have accomplished for our liberties.
I wanted to learn more about Lincoln....and this book delivered. Wonderful writing with plenty of detail.
A superb one-volume version of Sandburg's six-volume biography of our most cherished and beloved president; from "The Prairie Years" of Lincoln's youth in Kentucky and Illinois, training himself in the law, and in practical, frontier politics, to his successful bid for the presidency during the bitter and divisive 1860 campaign; and finally the enormous challenges he confronted during "The War Years" of his presidency.

Aside from the personality and character of Lincon himself, who literally and
I read this when I was a senior in high school, and when I finished the final volume after nearly two months of reading, I cried because there was no more to read. This is an amazing rendition of Abraham Lincoln's life. If you read it out loud, it is beautiful to hear. It is a pleasure to have the words roll off of one's tongue. A few of Carl Sandburg's poems are this way, such as "Choose Something Like a Star." If I am not mistaken, this is the longest and most comprehensive biography that has ...more
Lewis Codington
Fascinating, extremely well researched and written. Gives a wonderful glimpse into life and issues in the earlier years of our country through all that Lincoln experienced and was involved in.

“Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years” is a two-volume biography of Lincoln’s early life written by Carl Sandburg and published in 1926. Sandburg, like Lincoln, was a son of the Illinois prairie and he harbored a lifelong fascination with the sixteenth president. Although better known as an eminent American poet, Sandburg was also a well-regarded biographer.

Following publication of “The Prairie Years” Sandburg began an exhaustive effort to complete his study
Things I've come to appreciate:
• Washington politics had just as much vitriol in Lincoln's day as today. The book tells of a congressman who beat another congressman with a cane until crippled, an act his public praised. Also, a congressman fired a pistol at another at point blank range. This charge didn't go off.
• The American public was just as divided in Lincoln's day regarding slavery as today's public is about issues of our time. Abolitionists wanted to the South to be governed by blacks an
This book is an complete biography of Abraham Lincoln. Much of his own writings from his time as a prairie lawyer as well as President are included in the book.

He was a man born by Divine providence at just the right time and without his leadership the great experiment of the United States and freedom would have been lost in the world. He is not my favorite president, that place will always be held by George Washington. But this book have given me a deeper appreciation for this great man.

I had t
Geoff W
Mar 06, 2008 Geoff W rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks Lincoln was great
What a piece of shit this guy was...

On survey after survey, historians and the general public alike always pick Abraham Lincoln as our greatest president. While he was a good man, he was a lousy president. I give four reasons:

#1) He suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the war.

#2) He didn't free a single person from slavery (in fact he wanted to deport the slaves back to Africa).

#3) He prolonged the war by allowing trade to continue between the north and south and also by not allowing the
Jun 30, 2009 Nolan added it

First, what can you really say new or different about Lincoln that hasn’t already been written scores of times somewhere. The answer is, there’s nothing new to say, and that’s precisely why you keep reading more. A Kansas legislator summed up my feelings far better than ever I can. These are the words of Homer Hoch, who gave this tribute to Lincoln during a speech he made in the House of Representatives on February 12, 1923. “There is no new thing to be said about Lincoln. There is no new thing
This book illustrates the man who was Lincoln - without drawing any conclusions himself, the author packs this volume so full of facts and anecdotes about Lincoln, the reader is left to piece it all together and draw his own conclusions. I appreciate that very much.

This is what I came away with after readying this book: Lincoln was truly a man among men, a genius with humble beginnings, just the kind of man I think this world needs in leadership.

The person who gave it to me said it was the defi
Abraham Lincoln, born on Feburary 12th, 1809. Living in a small town in a state of Kentucky called Hodgenville. In this novel the author, Carl Sandburg wrote a 480 page novel that discussed when Lincoln was born til the date of his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. Now the novel talks about when Licoln was born and what he did as a young child. He worked on the farm with his brother and he helped around the hosue with his mother and father. When he came an adult (Before his presidency) he join ...more
James Oliver Burns

I have read and reviewed this book in tandem with the the six volume Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg.

My opinion of President Lincoln has always been a little tainted by strong southern upbringing and my love of that heritage and their leaders. The patriotic person in me, my love of GOD, Country and Corps has admired and respected the great things america was to accomplish through his leadership.

Before reading this book I wanted to see if it answered or comfir
Steve Van Slyke
Given the extensive level of detail in this book, it is hard to accept that it is a condensation of a larger work. And I think the level of detail is what led me to a 3-star rating than an 4-star--there is such a thing as too much. And in some areas it is repetitious. I wish I had begun a count at the beginning, of how many times Lincoln's appearance was described, and of those, only one description was significantly different than the others--the one time when he smiled for a photograph.

And des
Every American should read this book! It follows Abraham Lincoln through the early years and the war years and forms a summary of one of our greatest Presidents. I was especially struck by the complex and extremely difficult decisions Lincoln made with one of the most traumatic times in American History - the Civil War. One can only wonder the daily pressures of office and how many of our later Presidents would have succeeded in this task.
When I heard of the forthcoming movie "Lincoln" directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Daniel Day Lewis, I went back to re-read this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography written by Carl Sandburg. It was written at a time - the 1920's and 30's - when Civil War soldiers were still alive, and Abraham Lincoln was still part of living (though fading) memory. It is beautifully written historical biography, and Sandburg isn't afraid to tell a story, to convey the sights, sounds, and smells of the envir ...more
Rex Cluff
This was an excellent book. The portrayal of Mr. Lincoln as a man in the right place at the right time in order to preserve our union is clearly presented. He had many inner feelings or warnings, that he would not live much beyond the accomplishment of saving the union. He knew that he would not live through his second presidency. Even his death seemed foreordained inasmuch as many things could have happened to prevent Booth from accomplishing his devilish purpose. People that knew about his pla ...more
"Abraham Lincoln. The War Years", Carl Sandburg. 1939. The majority of CarlSandburg's epic work "Abraham Lincoln. The War Years" is arapid fire, stoic onslaught offacts, figures and information. Clearly hisexperience as a tenaciousChicagonews paper manpermeatesthe majorityof his book. When hestumbles upon a character, place or event that sparks personal interests, his journalistic writing style is quickly cast aside and Carl Sandburg,the beloved poet, emerges. The change in gears is often abrupt ...more
This is Sandburg's biography of Lincoln the man (moody, joking, ironical) and Lincoln the politician (logical, determined, pragmatic, and "clothed with great power"). Equally, it is Sandburg's biography of 19th Century America, funneled through the enigmatic 16th President as he sat in Washington City receiving endless callers and reading telegraph dispatches and newspaper columns from the bleeding country.

Sandburg's prose is lyrical but falls short of poetry -- his language suffers by comparis
Melanie Johnson
Very interesting facts about Lincoln I did not know before. It was good to find out more about one of our more famous presidents. This is for high schools.
I read these in high school before I realized there was any controversy about Lincoln and his administration. Perhaps I should go back
Brad Mclaws
I read this years ago. I really like Lincoln. And Sandburg is the classic biographer of him. But Hurburts latest is a better read.
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Carl August Sandburg was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his poetry and another for a biography of Abraham Lincoln. H. L. Mencken called Carl Sandburg "indubitably an American in every pulse-beat".

For more info see
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