Download Lincoln by David Herbert Donald EPUB for Free: A Comprehensive and Balanced Account of Lincoln's Life and Presidency
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald: A Review
Have you ever wondered what made Abraham Lincoln one of the greatest presidents in American history? How did he rise from humble beginnings to lead a nation through its most turbulent and transformative period? What were his challenges, achievements, and failures as a leader and a human being?
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If you are interested in these questions, you might want to read Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian who specialized in the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods. In this book, Donald offers a stunning portrait of Lincoln's life and presidency, based on extensive research and analysis of primary and secondary sources. He reveals how Lincoln evolved and adapted to changing circumstances, how he dealt with complex issues and diverse people, and how he shaped his own legacy.
In this article, I will summarize and evaluate Donald's book, highlighting its main themes, arguments, strengths, and weaknesses. I will also compare and contrast it with other biographies of Lincoln, and assess its accuracy, relevance, and originality. Finally, I will give my personal opinion and recommendation on whether you should read this book or not.
Summary of the book
Donald's book is divided into four parts: The Prairie Years, The Political Years, The War Years, and The Final Days. Each part covers a different stage of Lincoln's life and career, from his birth in Kentucky in 1809 to his assassination in Washington D.C. in 1865.
In The Prairie Years, Donald traces Lincoln's early years in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, where he grew up in poverty and hardship. He describes how Lincoln educated himself by reading books, how he worked as a laborer, a storekeeper, a surveyor, a postmaster, and a lawyer, how he married Mary Todd and had four sons, and how he developed his political skills and ambitions.
In The Political Years, Donald follows Lincoln's rise in the Whig Party and later in the Republican Party, where he became a prominent spokesman against slavery and secession. He recounts how Lincoln ran for various offices, including the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, how he debated Stephen A. Douglas on the slavery issue in 1858, how he won the presidential election in 1860 against three other candidates, and how he faced the secession crisis that led to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
In The War Years, Donald depicts Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War, where he faced enormous challenges both at home and abroad. He shows how Lincoln managed the war effort, how he dealt with his generals, his cabinet, his Congress, his party, his critics, his allies, and his enemies. He also shows how Lincoln evolved his views on slavery, emancipation, reconstruction, civil rights, and national unity.
In The Final Days, Donald narrates Lincoln's last months in office, where he achieved some of his greatest successes and faced some of his greatest tragedies. He tells how Lincoln won re-election in 1864, how he delivered his second inaugural address, how he witnessed the end of the war and the surrender of Robert E. Lee, how he planned for peace and reconciliation, and how he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre.
Throughout the book, Donald portrays Lincoln as a complex and dynamic character, who was not a saint or a sinner, but a human being with strengths and weaknesses, virtues and flaws, hopes and fears. He argues that Lincoln was not a visionary or a prophet, but a pragmatist and a politician, who responded to the changing realities and demands of his time. He also argues that Lincoln was not a consistent or a coherent thinker, but a flexible and adaptable learner, who revised his opinions and policies as he gained new information and experience.
Some of the main themes and arguments of the book are:
Lincoln's capacity for growth and change
Lincoln's sense of humor and melancholy
Lincoln's use of language and rhetoric
Lincoln's leadership style and skills
Lincoln's moral courage and political savvy
Lincoln's relationship with his family, friends, and foes
Lincoln's legacy and impact on American history and culture
Some of the examples and quotes from the book to support the summary are:
"He had no intention of being a martyr; he was not that kind of hero. He was, rather, an intensely practical man, who sought to achieve his goals by the most effective means available."
"He was not one of those men who are born with their beliefs already fixed; he learned by doing."
"He had an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires."
Evaluation of the book
Donald's book is widely regarded as one of the best and most authoritative biographies of Lincoln ever written. It has received critical acclaim and popular praise from scholars, reviewers, readers, and even other biographers of Lincoln. It has also won several awards, including the Lincoln Prize in 1996.
Some of the strengths of the book are:
Its comprehensive and balanced coverage of Lincoln's life and presidency
Its meticulous and rigorous research and analysis of primary and secondary sources
Its clear and engaging writing style and structure
Its insightful and persuasive interpretation and evaluation of Lincoln's character, actions, and achievements
Its respectful and sympathetic treatment of Lincoln's family, friends, and foes
Its relevant and timely connection of Lincoln's legacy to contemporary issues and challenges
Some of the weaknesses of the book are:
Its lack of attention to some aspects of Lincoln's personal life, such as his health, his hobbies, his religion, and his sexuality
Its omission or dismissal of some alternative or controversial perspectives on Lincoln, such as those of African Americans, Native Americans, women, radicals, or revisionists
Its occasional repetition or contradiction of some facts or arguments
Its excessive reliance on some sources or authorities, such as William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner and biographer
Its possible bias or distortion of some evidence or events to fit its thesis or narrative
To compare and contrast Donald's book with other biographies of Lincoln, I will use two examples: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2005) and A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr. (2009).
Team of Rivals is a biography that focuses on Lincoln's relationship with his cabinet members, especially his three main rivals for the 1860 Republican nomination: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. Goodwin argues that Lincoln was a masterful leader who used his political skills, emotional intelligence, and magnanimity to win over his adversaries, form a cohesive team, and save the Union.
A. Lincoln is a biography that emphasizes Lincoln's intellectual development, moral vision, and spiritual growth. White argues that Lincoln was a profound thinker who used his language skills, logical reasoning, and religious faith to articulate his principles, persuade his audiences, and inspire his nation.
Some similarities between Donald's book and these two books are:
Some differences between Donald's book and these two books are:
Donald's book is more comprehensive and balanced than Goodwin's book, which focuses more on Lincoln's cabinet than on other aspects of his life and presidency
Donald's book is more pragmatic and political than White's book, which focuses more on Lincoln's intellectual and spiritual dimensions than on his practical and strategic challenges
Donald's book is more objective and critical than both Goodwin's and White's books, which tend to be more admiring and laudatory of Lincoln
To assess the accuracy, relevance, and originality of Donald's book, I will use three criteria: factual correctness, historical significance, and scholarly contribution.
Factual correctness refers to how well the book conforms to the available evidence and avoids errors or distortions. Donald's book is generally accurate and reliable, as he uses a wide range of sources and cross-checks them for consistency and validity. He also corrects some common myths and misconceptions about Lincoln, such as his alleged depression, his supposed homosexuality, or his planned deportation of freed slaves. However, Donald's book is not flawless, as he sometimes makes minor mistakes or oversimplifications, such as his claim that Lincoln never joined a church or his dismissal of Lincoln's interest in spiritualism.
Historical significance refers to how well the book relates to the broader context and implications of Lincoln's life and presidency. Donald's book is highly relevant and timely, as he shows how Lincoln's issues and challenges are still present and important today. He also connects Lincoln's legacy to contemporary figures and events, such as Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, or the 9/11 attacks.
Scholarly contribution refers to how well the book adds to the existing knowledge and understanding of Lincoln. Donald's book is original and influential, as he offers a fresh and comprehensive perspective on Lincoln that synthesizes and surpasses previous biographies. He also presents new insights and interpretations on Lincoln that challenge or revise conventional wisdom. For example, he argues that Lincoln was not a passive or reactive leader, but an active and proactive one; that Lincoln was not a consistent or coherent thinker, but a flexible and adaptable learner; that Lincoln was not a visionary or a prophet, but a pragmatist and a politician.
In conclusion, Lincoln by David Herbert Donald is a masterful work by a distinguished author and historian who specialized in the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods. It is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln's life and presidency that reveals his gradual ascent from humble beginnings to the highest office in the land. It is also a comprehensive and balanced biography that covers all aspects of Lincoln's character, actions, and achievements. It is based on extensive research and analysis of primary and secondary sources. It is written in a clear and engaging style that appeals to both scholars and general readers. It is insightful and persuasive in its interpretation and evaluation of Lincoln. It is respectful and sympathetic in its treatment of Lincoln's family, friends, and foes. It is relevant and timely in its connection of Lincoln's legacy to contemporary issues and challenges.
In my personal opinion, Lincoln by David Herbert Donald is one of the best and most authoritative biographies of Lincoln ever written. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about Lincoln, the Civil War, or American history in general. It is also a captivating and inspiring story of a remarkable man who faced extraordinary difficulties and achieved great successes. It is a book that I enjoyed reading and learned a lot from.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Lincoln, history, or biography.
Where can I get Lincoln by David Herbert Donald?
You can get Lincoln by David Herbert Donald from various online platforms or physical stores that sell books. You can also borrow it from libraries or friends who have it. You can choose between different formats, such as hardcover, paperback, Kindle, or audiobook.
How long does it take to read Lincoln by David Herbert Donald?
The length of time it takes to read Lincoln by David Herbert Donald depends on your reading speed, interest level, and availability. The book has 720 pages and about 300,000 words. According to some estimates, the average reading speed for adults is about 200 words per minute. Based on this, it would take about 25 hours to read the whole book. However, this may vary depending on your personal factors and preferences.
What are some other books by David Herbert Donald?
David Herbert Donald wrote more than 30 books on United States political and literary figures and the history of the American South. Some of his other books are:
We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends (2003)
Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln's Family Life (1999)
Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe (1987)
Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War (1960)
The Civil War and Reconstruction (with Jean Harvey Baker and Michael F. Holt) (2001)
What are some other biographies of Lincoln?
There are hundreds of biographies of Lincoln, as he is one of the most studied and written about figures in American history. Some of the most popular and acclaimed biographies of Lincoln are:
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2005)
A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr. (2009)
Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame (2008)
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner (2010)
With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates (1977)
What are some other sources of information on Lincoln?
Besides books, there are many other sources of information on Lincoln, such as articles, documentaries, podcasts, websites, museums, monuments, and memorials. Some of the most useful and accessible sources of information on Lincoln are:
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, a project that collects and publishes all documents written by or to Lincoln
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a museum and research center that preserves and displays Lincoln's life and legacy
The Lincoln Memorial, a national monument that honors Lincoln's memory and achievements
The Lincoln Project, a podcast that explores Lincoln's life, times, and relevance today
The New York Times' Disunion, a series of articles that chronicles the Civil War as it unfolded