And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle

Random. Oct. 2022. 720p. ISBN 9780553393965. $40. BIOG
With his latest work, Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Meacham (the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt Univ.; His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope; Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power) thoroughly examines the moral universe of Abraham Lincoln. This fascinating biography shows that Lincoln was a man with vices as well as many virtues. Meacham’s writing is illuminating, and his sources help with that. For example, W.E.B Du Bois’s and Frederick Douglass’s mixed views on Lincoln heavily dominate the text. Why another book on Lincoln now? The author answers this question by giving readers a full understanding of the fractured state of the Union in mid-19th century America, contrasting it with the current divisive political situation in the United States of the 21st century. Lincoln’s views on emancipation and the Union evolved over time. The author examines that evolution and shows readers why this matters. A brilliant chapter, “Abe Was Hungry for Books,” gives much insight into Lincoln’s early family life, his hunger for an education, and his beginnings as a reader.
VERDICT A scholarly book on the life, triumphs, and heartbreaks of Abraham Lincoln’s life, but general readers may enjoy it too. This is a title that will likely be a fruitful one for all levels of book discussion groups.
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