"Lincoln" by David Herbert Donald


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Title: Lincoln
Author: David Herbert Donald
Start Date: 8/22/18
End Date: 12/31/18
# of Pages: 714
Edition: Simon & Schuster 1st edition hardcover (1995)
ISBN: 9780684808468
Purchase: Amazon

Quick Take: informative

Why I Chose It: Lincoln was the choice for my 2018 presidential biography reading, and this volume was widely recommended as a great single-volume biography to start with.

Quotes: (1) “‘If you think you have will and manhood enough to go and see her and speak to her what you in that letter…Words are forgotten…but once put your words in writing and they stand as a living and eternal monument against you.’” (2) “‘What [Lincoln] was so blandly giving away was simply what he couldn’t get and keep.’ Many a rival lawyer was lulled into complacency as Lincoln conceded, say, six out of seven points in an argument, only to discover that the whole case turned on the seventh point. ‘Any man who took Lincoln for a simple-minded man…would very soon wake up with his back in a ditch.’” (3) “‘How hard,’ [Lincoln] remarked to Herndon, ‘oh how hard it is to die and leave one’s Country no better than if one had never lived for it.’” (4) “He added, in one of his most perfectly balanced sentences: ‘I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it.’” (5) “‘Oh, no, I want to see it out. It’s best when you undertake a job, to finish it.’”

Other Notes: So much of this story revolves around the details of the Civil War. It paints a picture of a president overwhelmed with it, yet one who successfully navigates the country through the trouble, surprisingly perhaps, but also in light of a background and persona / character that did prepare him to do so. I learned a lot about Abraham Lincoln.

BooksKarl Magnuson