Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and #1 "New York Times" bestselling author Jon Meacham chronicles the life of Abraham Lincoln, charting how—and why—he confronted secession, threats to democracy, and the tragedy of slavery to expand the possibilities of America.
... excellent ... illuminates how Lincoln’s personal growth and travails enabled him to lead a nation along a fitful evolution toward freedom despite a catastrophic rebellion that denied it ... Meacham expertly peels back the historic to reveal the familiar in his coverage of the swirl of politics, largely unchanged to this day ... The author girds his analysis with a comprehensive survey of the variety of social, political and theological writings that influenced Lincoln and resonate across his career.
... an account of the life of the United States’ 16th president that is worldly and spiritual, and carefully tailored to suit our conflict-ridden times ... Meacham’s new Lincoln is not just a text; it is an event. The book aims to recraft a usable mythology of Lincoln for political leaders in the 21st century, when dissension and loose talk of civil war have returned. It is thoroughly researched and highly readable, written with all the artful craftsmanship of a veteran writer and editor. The book is not especially long for a contemporary biography; it clocks in at just over 400 pages of text. But it boasts more than 200 additional pages of endnotes and bibliography in support of an interpretation of Lincoln that focuses on the moral life of the politician and statesman ... Meacham’s lucid account nicely captures the religious framework with which Lincoln approached the most difficult decisions of his presidency ... stands for the claim that the demigods of American historical mythology, Lincoln foremost among them, can help us carve paths through our forbidding 21st-century wilderness. But can Lincoln do the work Meacham sets for him? Can a man who took part in the final genocidal clash of White settlers with Indians east of the Mississippi rally a multiethnic democracy to the flag? Can a man who opposed Black citizenship until the end of his life mobilize a diverse coalition of voters? What, moreover, does Lincoln’s moral North Star — the Declaration’s ringing promise of equality for all — mean today? Does it mean higher progressive tax rates for the 1 percent, or perhaps more student debt relief? Does it mean an end to race-based government action, or a rededication of the nation to the principle that Black lives matter? Is the next Lincoln a teenager who wants action on climate change — but is prepared to make compromises in bringing the world closer to carbon neutrality? Faced with such challenges, we owe it to one another to pray we do our best. And that is Meacham’s deadly serious point.
... will fit comfortably onto the Lincoln bookshelf, joining these other luminous volumes, complementing them and in some ways displacing them, perhaps nudging them an inch-and-a-quarter to the right to make room for it at the forefront of the Lincoln canon ... here is Lincoln in all his familiar complexity — and yet freshly conceived ... what sets Meacham’s book apart is how he places Lincoln in one continuum after another.