Excerpted from A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White, Jr.. Copyright © 2009 by Ronald C. White, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Random House Trade Paperbacks, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
“Looking for a comprehensive birth-to-death bio? This is the answer.”—USA Today
“Does the world really need another Lincoln bio? White’s exhaustive yet accessible work tips the scales to yes.”—People
“This thoroughly researched book belongs on the A-list of major biographies of the tall Illinoisian; it’s a worthy companion for all who admire Lincoln’s prose and his ability to see into, and explain, America’s greatest crisis.”—The Washington Post Book World
“This brilliant account of the man and his times will be the standard for biographers.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A page-turner . . . White has managed a complex narrative with the ease and zest of the novelist.”—The Buffalo News
“While this is a serious, weighty book, it’s also enormously readable, illuminating Lincoln’s intellectual prowess and personal magnetism in a way we’ve rarely seen before.”—Chicago Tribune (10 Top Books About Lincoln)
“Comprehensive . . . an admirable account of the life in full.”—Los Angeles Times
“A vivid and readable narrative . . . [White] is that rarity: a scholar who can tell a good story.”—The Miami Herald
“The torrent of Lincoln books past and present . . . means that the bar is necessarily set high. A. Lincoln . . . [is] among the most substantial new entrants.”—The Economist
“Impressive.”—U.S. News & World Report
“Comprehensive . . . Taking advantage of newly available resources . . . Mr. White delivers a strong narrative . . . [aimed] at the general reader.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Lincoln is endlessly chronicled because he is, like the nation he saved, endlessly fascinating. Ronald C. White has written a splendid, sprawling biography of a man we can never know too much about.”—Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson and American Lion
“Ronald C. White, an acknowledged expert on the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, has now taken in hand a full-length biography. To this task he brings the careful reading, patient attention to context, and special sensitivity to complex questions about Lincoln's religion that characterized his earlier books. The result is a first-rate study that will probably be THE biography of the Lincoln Bicentennial Year.”—Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
“Having given us two masterful studies of Lincoln's eloquence, Ronald C. White now delivers a riveting biography. This page-turner narrates all the major events of Lincoln's public career, including his military decision-making, but it does much more. No other book has so completely captured the elusive temperament of the man-- his humility and confidence, heart and intellect, religious spirit and secular sensibility. If you thought you knew Lincoln already, you'll know him better after reading this patient, probing work. A portrait for the ages.”—Richard Wightman Fox, Professor of History, University of Southern California
“Ron White’s A. Lincoln is a superb biography of America’s greatest leader. It is fully fleshed, thoughtful, provocative, and scholarly. Lincoln is never out of fashion. After a generation during which three comprehensive one-volume Lincoln biographies appeared—Benjamin P. Thomas’s Abraham Lincoln: A Biography in 1952; Stephen B. Oates’s With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln in 1977; and David Donald’s Lincoln in 1995—A. Lincoln: A Biography, with its rich detail, will be the standard text for years to come. The author includes the religious connections to his subject like no other biographer. This is a remarkable Lincoln biography by an outstanding writer.”—Frank J. Williams, Founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court
”Lincoln’s bicentennial will bring a flood of books about the sixteenth president. Anyone seeking an expansive, thoroughly engaging biography should turn to Ronald C. White’s gracefully written narrative. It does full justice to the complexity and drama of the era and allows readers to understand how Lincoln ultimately triumphed in guiding the nation through its greatest trial.”—Gary W. Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor of History, University of Virginia
“Ronald C. White’s A. Lincoln is the best biography of Lincoln since David Donald’s Lincoln. In many respects it is better than Donald’s biography, because it has incorporated the scholarship of the past fourteen years and is written in a fluent style that will appeal to a large range of general readers as well as Lincoln aficionados. The special strengths that lift this work above other biographies include a brilliant analysis of Lincoln’s principal speeches and writings, which were an important weapon in his political leadership and statesmanship, and on which Ronald C. White is the foremost expert, having written two major books on Lincoln’s speeches and writings. Another strength is White’s analysis of Lincoln's evolving religious convictions, which shaped the core of his effective leadership, his moral integrity. White’s discussion of Lincoln’s changing attitudes and policies with respect to slavery and race is also a key aspect of this biography. Amid all the books on Lincoln that will be published during the coming year, this one will stand out as one of the best.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“A beautifully written, deeply personal story of Lincoln’s life and service to his country. Ronald C. White’s moving account is particularly strong in its analyses of Lincoln’s rhetoric and the process by which the president reached decisions.”—Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
“Each generation requires–and seems to inspire–its own masterly one-volume Lincoln biography, and scholar Ronald C. White has crowned the bicentennial year with an instant classic for the twenty-first century. Wise, scholarly, evenhanded, and elegant, the book at once informs and inspires, with a rewarding new emphasis on the complex meaning and timeless importance of Lincoln’s great words. Brimming with new anecdotes and informed interpretations, White’s superb study brings vivid new life to an American immortal.”—Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln: President-Elect, and co-chairman, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
1. What characteristics of the young Lincoln stood out to his boyhood friends in Indiana?
2. Beginning with Lincoln’s announcement of his candidacy for state office in 1832, what qualities marked his four terms in the Illinois State Legislature?
3. In Lincoln’s single term in Congress why and how did he criticize President James Polk’s policies in the Mexican-American War?
4. How would you characterize Lincoln’s self-understanding as a lawyer in the years 1849-1854?
5. Why did Lincoln reemerge into politics in 1854 and what is new about his political message and style?
6. It has been suggested that Lincoln won the debates with Stephen Douglas in 1858. What are the bases of this claim?