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Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln
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Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  89 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
A brilliant work of historical imagination, Abe immerses the reader in the isolating poverty and difficult circumstances that shaped Abraham Lincoln's character. Marked by his mother's horrible death and the struggle to keep reading and learning in the face of his father's fierce disapproval, Richard Slotkin's Lincoln comes of age during a dramatic flatboat journey down th ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book... But then, I love Abe. I actually read this as a galley book, one of those books they send to bookstores before the book is published so that people can read it and send back comments for the jacket cover when the book comes out officially. It painted a very accurate picture of the places Abe lived (many of which I have been to), and the events that eventually led him to become our 16th president. Comparable to Gore Vidal's Lincoln, but perhaps more accessible to the average ...more
Jun 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Slotkin's novel covers the life of Lincoln from his earliest years into young manhood and really puts flesh and blood on a character from the past who's often portrayed as a martyr in training. I really find this book exceptional, highly recommended along with Slotkin's "The Crater".
Dec 04, 2007 rated it liked it
I don't know why I read this. Of course a plain old biography would be better, but as in any undertaking like this, I suppose the writer is trying to imagine what goes in the gaps. It wasn't bad. A must, of course, for Abe Lincoln fans.
May 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I agree with someone else's review that the character of Abe Lincoln doesn't really stand out from the story. I liked the way possibility was spotlighted. If someone from a poor white trash family can make it that far so can anyone. Over all a good read and a fun historical romp.
I think I need to stop reading historical fiction. Or maybe I need to be more aware before I start reading it. It just bugs me to read a book like this and then read something lame like "It draws deeply on historical scholarship, but it is not a biography. Rather, it is an imaginative re-creation of life as a young Abe Lincoln might have lived it, ..." Grrr ...

That said, although this started a bit slow, once I got into it, I didn't want to put it down. The reason I didn't want to put it down i
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: history students
I found it very difficult to rate this book, the reason being that, from a fiction standpoint, it wasn't particularly successful in that the narrator (Abe) never managed to transcend being a literary construct to serve the story, and/or Slotkin never allowed Abe to take on a life of his own within the story, free of a sense of constantly being puppeteered by the author's hand.

The problem is, this may have been a deliberate choice by the author. He took liberties, very strong liberties, by imagin
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Technically, I got through more than half of this book and put it down and read two other books and decided to move on with my life. The thing is that I know the outcome (surprise); he becomes president (and a great one too which is why I picked this up). The first part of this book was semi-interesting; the family has next to nothing and no education. He gets some book larnin' and he has issues with his dad. Fairly typical beginning for someone in that era. Then he comes across a new for that t ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it liked it
A novel based on Lincoln's young life, until 1832, focusing on a raft trip he took down the Mississippi River in 1829-30. I have no idea how historically accurate it was--I certainly know of few of the actual events described, & they didn't ring true, but Slotkin is a respected scholar of the 19th-century frontier experience. But his main purpose was to shed some light on the cultural experiences that might have set the tone for Lincoln's later racial views. This was a Lincoln I didn't know- ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Being an ABE fan I thought this sounded like an intersting book, however when I really started reading it I got so lost in how it was written, and the muddled way the writer chose to form Abes thoughts that it became very difficult for me to finish it. The idea that things Abe was exposed to, formed his strong belief structure was great, but wanderings in the story and a lack of real events (painted in true colors) was a downer to me. There is much we know about him, and sticking to more histori ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As an American Studies student, I was most familiar with Slotkin's well-known work on violence and American culture. Who knew he could write fiction -- and write like a dream? Don't be deterred by the opening chapter -- an experiment in point-of-view that doesn't quite work, in my opinion. What follows is one of the best bildungsromans I've ever read. I also happens to be the best historical novel I've ever read; still, while the evocation of Lincoln and Jacksonian America will delight those int ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this recounting of a young Abraham Lincoln. The book is fiction, but infused with actual people and events from Lincoln's life. The author does a good job of illustrating the struggles of a young nation. Abe Lincoln came from the humblest of beginnings, his loving and supportive mother died young, leaving him with a father that was both physically and emotionally abusive . A caring stepmother filled a void and believed in him . He was mostly self taught and hungered for knowledge in al ...more
This book uses the bare facts concerning Abe Lincoln's early life as a jumping-off point for a novel. I found some of the scenarios too outlandish- the author seemed to let his imagination run wild. I guess that is the purpose of the book. It was good in the sense that it let the reader speculate about the inner workings of a young Abe's mind. I liked the last couple of chapters the best. This would probably only be a good book for someone who is a Lincolnophile like myself.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most richly imagined historical fictions I've ever read, which the author achieves in part due to his mastery of the complex and diverse voices that appear here. The other part, of course, is that Slotkin is an esteemed historian, and his day job bleeds through in the settings of plot episodes in historical events as well as in the clever way that the plot illustrates the historical figure of the title character. This is both an important book and a dazzling one.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I learned something about Lincoln from this novel, and hope that I retain the factual info and not the impressions that were created by Slotkin. I'm beginning to think that I prefer historical fiction when the focus is on a period of time or a significant event. I don't feel comfortable when an author imposes thoughts, feelings, and experiences on someone who cannot respond to what's been written.
Oct 24, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was well researched and highly readable; however, the treatment of race and power in 19th century America was pretty ridiculous, as was the continued glorification of Mister Lincoln. Now, I love me some Honest Abe but he was human and having him interact with a host of characters along the Mississippi (see Mister Wilkes and Mister Davis) to create the AHA situation where he realized that the selling of humans was not his liking was laughable at best.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I didn't know Lincoln was so rowdy in his growing up years. I did enjoy the book, once I got over the fact that there weren't a lot of commas where I would put them. Slotkin did a good job writing so I could picture what was going on.
Rebecca Jessup
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
This is a wonderfully vivid and insightful imagining of Lincoln's first twenty years. It brings his family and him very much to life. It's the sort of book that you really miss when you've finished it.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting book that combines facts of the period and known character traits and events in Lincoln's life. It is a work of fiction but gives the reader some possible insights into what made Lincoln the man he became.
Gwen Bartlett
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting fictional account of Abraham Lincoln's life from birth to his nomination to the Illinois legislature. The Kentucky vernacular was sometimes difficult to read. His trip by riverboat to New Orleans showed many of the influences that shaped his later life.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange, yet interesting look at what Lincoln's childhood might have been like. Largely fabricated, but it keeps much of the "feel" of Lincoln.
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I really enjoyed this book. I am a big Lincoln fan!
Holly P
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Apr 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I liked the book but I don't think most casual readers would enjoy it. Having an affinity for his history helps you ignore the tough parts. The author's "creative" parts are a little irritating.
Elizabeth Kuehne
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Pretty good book. I enjoyed it.
Lizzie smith
rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2008
Natalie Andrews
rated it did not like it
Nov 01, 2016
rated it really liked it
Feb 12, 2009
Anita Streeter
rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2012
Sheila Wall
rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2009
Mandy Pinckley
rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2016
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