A. Lincoln: A Biography
by Ronald C. White
Published: January 13, 2009
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
I thought I knew most of the facts about Abraham Lincoln’s life. We were all taught about the self-educated man who would walk miles to borrow and return books. The log splitter. who as a lawyer debate Stephen Douglas and then become president at the start of the civil war. He gave the Gettysburg’s address and was murdered at the end of the civil war. Those facts are all correct, but there is so much more about Abraham Lincoln that I learned from this book.
He had very little formal schooling, but through self-education became knowledgeable of a wide range of subjects. He struggled as a businessman but discovered that he was good a being a lawyer and flourished as a Lawyer. He was elected to state office and one term as a congressman. His early political career was anything but successful.
He came from a family tree that just kept moving west each chance they got. I was struck by the number of family members throughout his life that died from different diseases. It shaped him as a man.
I had not known about his failed courtships and how he finally married Mary Todd. I got a better understanding of the impact on Mary when their son died and how that impacted him.
He was a brilliant thinker and speaker. He became a spokesman for first the Whigs and then the newly formed Republican party. I learned that Lincoln sought out the best people to be in his cabinet – even if they weren’t republicans or were former political rivals.
There is also some interesting insight into how Lincoln grew into his role as commander in chief and finally learned how to manage generals whose egos were bigger than their skills.
The book gave me a better understanding of how Lincoln developed the emancipation proclamation against the backdrop of Union defeats and victories.
Lincoln is the type of leader you’d want in a crisis.
The book is a delightful read. I also listened to about a third of the book in my car and the narrator – Bill Weideman – has an easy to listen to voice.