Book Review: Lincoln, by David Herbert Donald

It is a little difficult for me to write a review of a book that covers the US Civil War period, and notable people of that geography and era – it has fascinated me for decades, and I suspect what some people consider dry, I consider absorbing. Nevertheless, I believe I can be reasonably detached with this work.

Donald is an accomplished writer – two Pulitzer Awards, and the research and style/flow of writing of Lincoln is perfect. Seriously. More importantly, he covers the life of Lincoln with a rigor for truth and evenly weighted probability masterfully, and this is the reason why I enjoyed the book so much. As a non-American, but nevertheless mid-Eighteenth Century US student, I have developed a view of who Lincoln was. I saw his as a visionary and as an eloquent statesman, and also as a self-made man. The burden of his responsibilities during the Civil War were always permeating the total picture of the man, and there seemed to be an endless collection of anecdotes about Lincoln’s axe-swinging, frontier-living, small-office and saddle legal days. And much more. What Donald did was take the filters away, but at the same time analyze the self-same filters when appropriate. I discovered the real man, and with the meticulous research, feel confident that I really know the truth.

As a non-US citizen I feel that I understand the United States better, by understanding Lincoln, and his times – a period in history that has had, and continues to have, a profound influence on that great nation. Donald’s book is one of those definitive sources to ensure that the understanding is complete.

I rate this 5 stars out of 5.

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