Thomas Keneally (2003)
Coming in at fewer than 200 pages, this small book is a little like sprinting through a high school American History class. But it’s so well written and the subject matter is so interesting, it’s definitely worthwhile. A concise overview of Lincoln’s life, without getting bogged down in all the minutiae of dates and detail. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for more biographies in this Penguin Lives series.
One thought on “Review: Abraham Lincoln”
I just read Stephen Oates’ bio of Lincoln–apprx 500 pages of small print. But it read surprisingly fast, and did a good job of reminding me of the major Civil War battles and generals that I should know but don’t. (Who won Antietam? Was McClellan a good guy or a bad guy?) What was really, interesting, though, was how many mistakes Lincoln made as president. We all revere him as a god-like man, but he was just a man whose actions as president sounded suspiciously like the actions of some of our more contemporary leaders, and the outcry and opposition from the public, press, political opponents, and foreign leaders is achingly familiar.
Not that I’m in any way, shape or form suggesting that W belongs in the same class as Lincoln. The two barely belonged together in the previous sentence. But the book was a good reminder of how easy it is to judge the actions of leaders through hindsight, and to forget that at the time it was nearly impossible to know if they were making good decisions or bad, acting capably or not.