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The Case of Abraham Lincoln: A Story of Adultery, Murder, and the Making of a Great President

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  118 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In 1856, Abraham Lincoln was at a difficult point, personally. Depressed, edgy, and often despondent, he had grown bored with his work as a lawyer. He saw himself as a former congressman with little future in politics. Then in May of 1856, he became drawn to the case of the gruesome murder of a blacksmith named George Anderson. Lincoln was asked to take part in the case, a ...more
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Published October 30th 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2007)
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Nathan Albright
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge2017
It should go without saying that there are a lot of books about Abraham Lincoln [1], many of which I have read and reviewed.  Perhaps some might argue that there are far too many, but I have generally found the books to be worthwhile and this book is no exception.  The author here follows a familiar approach--find something little well known or recognized about Abraham Lincoln's life that is nonetheless well-documented, pour over texts that others ignore, and create a worthwhile book that offers ...more
Karen Garrett
Nov 21, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like false advertising
Shelves: readin2007
I wish this book was about what it said it was. Touted as coverage of a murder case in which Abraham Lincoln acted as counsel, it was supposed to be about how his involvement in this trial set him on a path towards refocusing his political desires and drive towards the presidency. Instead, it was about his involvement with the burgeoning redefined Republican party (which was at first quite reluctant). The discussion of the murder case was pretty much abandoned for the entire middle section of th ...more
Jrobertus
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
The cover blurb suggests that Abe was involved in a sensational murder case, and indeed this is ultimately true. However, the book is really about his wide range of legal cases and his role in building the Republican party in Illinois. It was interesting in its own right, but clearly the author felt no one would read the history and so used the Anderson murder trial to suck in readers. (Anderson was a prosperous but boring blacksmith. His illiterate wife and his nephew had a thing, and they firs ...more
dejah_thoris
Read as an audiobook. I never learned much about Lincoln's earlier years before he starting running for President and his years as a lawyer are barely touched upon in most history courses, so this book was great for filling that gap. It also includes a sensational and potentially scandalous trial of Mrs. Anderson and her boarder, Theodore, and whether they may have murdered Mr. Anderson. Aside from the focal case, Fenster also discusses how Lincoln helped shape the emergent Republican party base ...more
Kathy Hale
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This was interesting to listen to. it is lincoln on the verge of his presidency. I think the title is a little misleading because some of the book is about the murder trial it is more about the political beginnings of the Republican party in Illinois with a little of the murder trail thrown in.
Jenn M
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am always looking for something new in the arena of Abraham Lincoln history. Being a mystery and legal thriller fan, the title of this book made me have to read it. The book piqued my interest for a couple of reasons: 1) early history of Abraham Lincoln (the Illinois days), before he was elected President; and 2) crime detection and the legal system procedural process of the mid-19th century.

I thought Julie Fenster did a terrific job of blending together multiple authoritative sources to incl
...more
Tom
Audio book. I rather liked this one, even though I have to agree with the several other reviewers who noted that the title is rather misleading. There is a murder case that is quite scandalous and Lincoln is involved in the trial. But that turns out to be the least interesting thing in this book by far. The real story is about Lincoln's entry into the political arena in the run-up to the 1856 presidential election -- and that story is fascinating. Fenster deftly crystallizes just how far off the ...more
Andrew
Dan got me this one for Christmas.

"I immediately went into his office and found him in," Angell recalled of his meeting with Lincoln. "He was seated with his arms resting on the table and his long legs crossed. He was so different from any other person I had ever seen that for a moment I was dazed. The man looked like a cathedral.
I stated my busness, and feeling in my vest pocket, produced a ten dollar gold piece which I offered him as a retainer's fee. He was silent for a moment, and then sai
...more
Patrick
This was a fabulous 5-star right up until the end which brings it down to a 4 1/2-star.

The title is misleading. The book chronicles Lincoln's life in the year 1856. He is well-known and really well-liked as a traveling lawyer, but he is not seen as wise and amazing yet. He works with other lawyers who seem to be heading to higher places politically than he is. He plays a vital part in starting the Republican party that year and starts to become famous after his powerful speech at the organizing
...more
Jacob Lines
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book about Lincoln’s life. The virtue of this book is that it is focused in time and it covers ground often overlooked. The book offers a fascinating and detailed picture of Lincoln’s life from March to December of 1856. And while it covers politics, it also covers his legal work that he was doing at the same time. The result is very interesting. This window of time was critical – the Republican Party was just being formed to challenge the Democrats, and Lincoln took a risk on it and hel ...more
Megan
Sep 30, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan
Jun 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
Short and incredibly valuable. This 200-pager describes the year 1856 in Illinois, where a big murder case took place in Springfield and also Abraham Lincoln rose to prominence in the formation of the new Republican party. It was incredibly useful to understand just how involved in the legal scene Lincoln was, and also to see how his role as a party-man in the formation of the party helped give him the launching pad to the nomination 4 years later. Only slight negative is that the conclusion of ...more
Beth
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
I have to agree with other reviews about the false advertising. I was really hoping for a riveting story about a murder case involving Abraham Lincoln when he was a circuit lawyer in Illinois. The copious amount of information about Lincoln's involvement with the founding of the Republican party was interesting, but I kept wondering what it had to do with the Anderson case. Nothing really, as it turns iut. The murder case becomes incidental in the end (view spoiler) ...more
Laurie
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting glimpse of politics at the time of the formation of the Republican party. However, the author was using many newly discovered source documents (letters, diaries, etc.) and seems to have been compelled to use every possible detail, which made the book feel very random and unwieldy. It was a "choppy" read, without good flow to the narrative. Useful information about Abe's entrance into politics and his law career with the circuit court in Illinois...but not a pleasant reading experienc ...more
Nancy
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw Julie Fenster on Book TV talking about this book, and I was immediately 'hooked'. She did a magnificent job of opening a window into Lincoln's everyday life as a lawyer in 1856, and setting the stage for the creation of the Republican Party. That glimpse of Lincoln was well worth the read, but the particular murder case that was woven into the biography was never solved. So it is a bit disappointing at the end to get no resolution to the murder.
Maryellen
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lincoln fans, Illinois people, anyone interested in political party history.
New stuff on Lincoln. I admit I can read anything on Lincoln but the addition of the murder of Charles Anderson and Lincoln's involvement in the case made this an interesting read. The book covered Lincoln's involvement with the formation of the Republican party and his expertise in the law. The man was just amazing. He had such a brilliant mind.
Also lots of interesting stuff about Springfield, IL.
Michele
I'm not sure this deserves 3 stars, but not sure it warrents 4 stars. Maybe 3 1/2. I think the title is misleading because it isn't so much about the court case mentioned, as it is about Lincoln's rise in political stature at the time the case occurs.

It was very interesting to hear about politics in the time this book takes place. It made me like Lincoln even more than I already do and learn more about him.
Mom
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Focuses on the year 1856 when Lincoln was instrumental in setting up the Republican party (the Grand Old one, not what passes for it now.) Connects his personal, legal and political activities and the impact of each on his future election to the Presidency. The adultery and murder are in his legal domain: he became one of the defense lawyers. Good book. A little jumpy in the transitions from legal to political to personal. Very interesting in this year of Obama.
Dalen
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's true that the title of this book is a bit misleading . . . But to me it was perfect. I was very interested in Lincoln's role in the formation of what became the Republican Party, his life as an attorney and his work/family balance. It was very interesting to see how the stage was set in 1856 for his presidency. I really enjoyed this book.
Bill
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book talks about how Lincoln helped form a new political party from the wreckage of the Whigs and "anti-Nebraskans" at the same time he was one of the busiest lawyers in central Illinois. Good insight into the development of a man from being well-known only in his judicial circuit to our 16th president.
Eric A.
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Interesting and Informative snapshot of a year in the life of Abraham Lincoln. 1856 saw A. Lincoln active as a lawyer, including the key role he played in an infamous murder mystery, while at the same time playing an influential role in the formation of the Republican party and his ascendancy there in.
Lynne
Finished it. I felt that it was a good snapshot in time of the life of Abe Lincoln in the years leading up to his time as President. Some little known stories about other people who needed legal help (including a nephew who was a thief, and Abe got him OFF!) and how he was increasing becoming popular on his way to the White House.
RachelAnne
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lincoln admirers
Shelves: memoirs, historical
Well researched, but doesn't live up to the sensational subtitle. A rather slow book that won't appeal to those who lack the patience to pore over the details of mid-ninteenth century legal practice and the formation of the Republican National Party.
Don
Oct 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This is a pretty decent story of a murder and the ensuing trial. However, Abe didn't really have a lot to do with it. The value here is the detail of Lincoln's Springfield, but not a whole lot of insight into the man himself
Jenny
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a member of the legal profession, I'm glad to know that our greatest president was also a great lawyer. This book provides new insights into Lincoln's character, and the practice of law in the 1850s. A quick and interesting read.
Shelby Shoop
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, us
Full of wonderful details of social and political history, especially what it was like to be a lawyer and follow the circuit. Reveals the progress of Lincoln's ability to capture an audience with his speeches.
Aimee
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, biography


The title is a little misleading because he really didn't get involved in the case until the very end and then he rocked it!!! I learned so much about him....he was brilliant in so many ways..ABSOLUTELY loved this book!!!
Carol Ann
The court case is sprinkled throughout the book, it is not a whodunit. The book describes the birth of the Republican Party in 1856. Lincoln later became the first Republican President.
Rosemary
If you like American history, this book will provide background on Lincoln and the times before he was president and how the US was struggling with the slavery issue on a state basis.
Nancy
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Very well researched. A little slow, but I got into it as it went along.
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