Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness
A thoughtful, nuanced portrait of Abraham Lincoln that finds his legendary political strengths rooted in his most personal struggles.
Giving shape to the deep depression that pervaded Lincoln's adult life, Joshua Wolf Shenk's Lincoln's Melancholy reveals how this illness influenced both the president's character and his leadership. Lincoln forged a hard path toward m...more
Second, as a ...more
- A young Circassian rider to Leo Tolstoy, when presented with a photograph of Abraham Lincoln (originally told by Leo Tolstoy toe the New York World shortly before Tolstoy died
"Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue!"
- Eugene O'Neill
Abraham Lincoln has reached one of those levels of recognition and reverence that is typically reserved f ...more
After finishing this book, I feel like I now know LESS about him than I did before.
Shenk has done a remarkable and thorough job poring over vast collections of papers, letters, correspondence and previously published works in regard to a Lincoln we rarely see:
-The young Lincoln (passionate, somewhat volatile, and full of wicked wit and humor, but equally prone to "dark moods").
-The resigne ...more
Keep in mind I read this about three years ago, so I'm a bit rusty with details, but what I remember most about this great read is the display of Lincoln's character. WolfShenk wrote about Lincoln being a common man, and he was. Lincoln ...more
Allow me to offer two personal disclosures (pd's) at this point. First, I have not ventured into the domain of Lincoln biography apart ...more
About halfway through (not a long book). Not impressed with Mr. Lincoln, sadly. We would all do well to learn about the folks we think of as heroes. Basically, it's not because of the melancholy, but his godless world view, though he refers to God often. His view of God is not personal.
The author weaves faith and intellect and melancholy giving a ho ...more
Best of all, Mr. Shenk builds a compelling thesis, and allows it to guide him, but he never lets the thesis overtake the rest of th ...more
It becomes clear while reading "Melancholy", that Lincoln's personal suffering, including his own battle with depression and suicidal ideation, the loss of three out of h ...more
Most of us, someday, have felt, feel ...more
He documents two specific and major psychological breakdowns that while incapacitating for a short period of time (reading Lincoln's corresponden ...more
Shenk does an excellent job of staying close to the facts, and not wandering off into idle speculation, a flaw of many other "psycho-biographies ...more
It was a great biography from a different perspective. Since it's premise was that Lincoln suffered from depression, it looked at his life through the scope of overcoming his illness. The author made his point very well in my opinion. I'd highly recommend reading it.
Now, I'd heard that when Lincoln was president, he suffered from depression. I always figured, no kidding, considering his son died and the country he was supposed to be president of was in the middle ...more
Today, people who are depressed are told to "snap out of it!" or go to a doctor and get on drugs. In Lincoln's day, melancholy was looked at romantically, as a sign of deep thinking and deeper feeling. Many great poets came out of his era, frequently lauded for their melancholy, and Lincoln himself loved poetry and occasional ...more
But what I love most about Wolf Shenk's biography is how beautifully he describes Lincoln's ability to surmount his suffering. To turn it into greatness. To feel more deeply and lead more empathetically. Wolf Shenk writes: "The burden was a s ...more
I was drawn to this book because I come from a family of depressives. Those who aren't on medication are self-medicating drunks. (A couple of them are both.) Somehow, some of us have managed to pull ...more