Abraham Lincoln had less schooling than all but a couple of other presidents, and more wisdom than every one of them. In this original, insightful book, Michael Gerhardt, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explains how this came to be ... Mr. Gerhardt’s emphasis on Lincoln’s education casts his presidency in a distinctive light. This is no small accomplishment given all that has been written about Lincoln. Mr. Gerhardt stresses that Lincoln was 'educable,' a quality never more necessary in an occupant of the White House than during the Civil War.
Gerhardt is fluent in Lincoln history and political philosophy, but he stays close to his aspiration for the book—not to cover every event, but to demonstrate how an untutored, Western, small town lawyer could make himself into the most eloquent and influential president the country ever had ... The reason why Lincoln’s Mentors is a worthy addition to the Lincoln bibliotheca is the range of skills brought to the project by Professor Michael Gerhardt ... Legal academics and public witnesses do not necessarily write great books that are accessible to the informed public. Gerhardt is the clear exception. His tome on Lincoln is unique, combining well-known facts from the life of our greatest president with a command of the sources of Lincoln’s philosophy and language ... Professor Gerhardt is a splendid writer of nonfiction. His storyline is clear and resonant. The author is fluent in Lincoln history and political philosophy, but he stays close to his aspiration for the book—not to cover every event, but to demonstrate how an untutored, Western, small town lawyer could make himself into the most eloquent and influential president the country has ever had.
A life of Lincoln emphasizing the men responsible for his political education ... Intensely gregarious and an obsessive reader, Lincoln soaked up ideas relentlessly, but Gerhardt makes solid cases for his choices as major influences. A satisfying general biography that concentrates on Lincoln’s political career.
A well-researched yet unfocused history ... Close looks at Whig politics and legislative battles over slavery and secession provide genuine insights, but the selection of mentors seems somewhat arbitrary and the personal dynamics between them and Lincoln are undeveloped. The result is a solid history in search of a more coherent theme.