100 books like House of Abraham

By Stephen Berry,

Here are 100 books that House of Abraham fans have personally recommended if you like House of Abraham. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Mrs. Lincoln: A Life

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

While Mary Lincoln (although we often call her "Mary Todd Lincoln," she preferred "Mary Lincoln," "Mrs. Abraham Lincoln," or the unassuming "Mrs. A. Lincoln") has been the subject of several biographies, this is my favorite, and one which I always used as my first resource when checking a fact or looking for a reference about Mary Lincoln. It's readable, well-sourced, and sympathetic toward its subject without veering into hagiography or being overly indulgent of Mary's foibles.

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mrs. Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This engaging, wonderfully written narrative provides fresh insight into this complex woman. It is a triumph.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

Catherine Clinton, author of the award-winning Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, returns with Mrs. Lincoln, the first new biography in almost 20 years of Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the most enigmatic First Ladies in American history. Called “fascinating” by Ken Burns and “spirited and fast-paced” by the Boston Globe, Mrs. Lincoln is a meticulously researched and long overdue addition to the historical record. In the words of Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis, Mrs. Lincoln “is distinctive for its abiding…


Book cover of Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case: A Documentary History

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

In 1875, the nation was shocked when Robert Lincoln, by then the only surviving son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, began proceedings to have his mother declared insane by an Illinois jury. As a result, Mary spent several months in a private asylum before she managed to regain her freedom. In this book, Jason Emerson collects family correspondence, newspaper accounts, asylum progress reports, and other documents, allowing us to review the evidence for this tragic, often luridly misrepresented period of Mary Lincoln's life. As someone who likes to consult primary sources whenever possible, I found it invaluable.

By Jason Emerson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1875 Mary Lincoln, the widow of a revered president, was committed to an insane asylum by her son, Robert. The trial that preceded her internment was a subject of keen national interest. The focus of public attention since Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860, Mary Lincoln had attracted plentiful criticism and visible scorn from much of the public, who perceived her as spoiled, a spendthrift, and even too much of a Southern sympathizer. Widespread scrutiny only increased following her husband's assassination in 1865 and her son Tad's death six years later, after which her overwhelming grief led to the increasingly…


Book cover of The Mary Lincoln Enigma: Historians on America's Most Controversial First Lady

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

This collection of essays focuses on a variety of topics, including Mary's relationships, her siblings, her life at the only home she and her husband owned together, her travels, her fashion sense, her psyche, her depiction in photographs and illustrations, and her portrayal in fiction. Although these essays are relatively short, they're crammed full of interesting details. You can read the book straight through or (as I prefer) dip in and out of it at your leisure.

By Frank J. Williams (editor), Michael Burkhimer (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mary Lincoln Enigma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mary Lincoln is a lightning rod for controversy. Stories reveal widely different interpretations, and it is impossible to write a definitive version of her life that will suit everyone. The thirteen engaging essays in this collection introduce Mary Lincoln's complex nature and show how she is viewed today. The authors' explanations of her personal and private image stem from a variety of backgrounds, and through these lenses-history, theater, graphic arts, and psychiatry-they present their latest research and assessments. Here they reveal the effects of familial culture and society on her life and give a broader assessment of Mary Lincoln as…


Book cover of Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters

Charles B. Strozier Author Of Lincoln's Quest for Union

From my list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got my first job as a professor of history in 1972 in Springfield, Illinois, at a new university there. What can you do in Springfield except work on Lincoln? The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Lincoln draws you in. His lively mind and always well-written letters, along with his brilliant and memorable speeches, are endlessly fascinating. He also had genuine integrity as a human being and as a leader in our greatest crisis as a country. It is hard not to be inspired by Abraham Lincoln.

Charles' book list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst

Charles B. Strozier Why did Charles love this book?

Mary Todd Lincoln has been seriously misunderstood by most observers (including her most recent biographer). She was in fact a smart, lively, well-educated woman whom Lincoln loved and to whom he was emotionally drawn. Her troubled personality led to some distance between her and her husband in the 1850s, and her post-assassination despair grew in large part from the unrelenting criticism she endured. This definitive collection of her letters, interspersed with excellent biographical information, contextualizes the documents in a highly readable volume. Mary Todd Lincoln deserves our close and sympathetic attention.

By Justin G. Turner, Linda Levitt Turner, Mary Todd Lincoln

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mary Todd Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The personal correspondences of Mary Todd Lincoln create an intimate portrait of her life and marriage to Lincoln as well as her struggles after his death


Book cover of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Lisa Ard Author Of Brighter Than Her Fears

From my list on historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a well-written historical fiction novel that immerses me in the time period and introduces a female character I can relate to. We may live in different times, but women in all eras feel love, attempt and fail, find strength, perform heroic deeds,  suffer mishaps, and experience life. Escaping into their stories makes me question what I would have done in their shoes as well as think about how my own story is still being written. As a historical fiction author, I seek to create those relationships between my characters and readers.

Lisa's book list on historical fiction with a strong female lead

Lisa Ard Why did Lisa love this book?

Imagine a former slave working in the White House before and after Emancipation. What conversations were heard? How was she treated? Did she feel safe or threatened?

Chiaverini dives into the interiority of Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker's story, the conflicts, the battles, the personal dreams and aspirations, the friendship and falling out around a historical figure few know.

A riveting story.

By Jennifer Chiaverini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters and Canary Girls unveils the private lives of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, through the eyes of the First Lady's most trusted confidante and friend in this compelling historical novel.

In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion.

A sweeping historical novel,…


Book cover of Courting Mr. Lincoln

Margaret Rodenberg Author Of Finding Napoleon

From my list on famous leaders we thought we understood.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I lived in France as a youngster, museum portraits became friends. I could hear courtiers scheming in Versailles and gladiators clashing in coliseums. Naturally, decades later, when I learned Napoleon Bonaparte tried to write a novel of love and betrayal, I vowed to finish it for him. But to ghostwrite for Napoleon, I had to know him as personally as his great love Josephine did. I dove into research, translated his writing to capture his cadence, and became secretary of the Napoleonic Historical Society. Finally, on remote St. Helena Island in the ramshackle rooms where Napoleon died in exile, I found the intimate connection I demand from historical fiction.

Margaret's book list on famous leaders we thought we understood

Margaret Rodenberg Why did Margaret love this book?

Write about Abraham Lincoln’s intimate life? I wouldn’t dare, but I’m thrilled Louis Bayard did. Courting Mr. Lincoln catches America’s icon at his pivot from aw-shucks buffoon to fast-track politician. Joshua Speed, Lincoln’s roommate who’s in love with him, applies social veneer, teaching him to dress and dance, and where to rest those spidery arms during dinner. The friends’ touching love never crosses into sexual on the page. Yet, intimacy flows through Bayard’s extraordinary writing. We, too, inhabit Lincoln’s long torso, flailing elbows, and head crammed in a too-small top hat. Alas, a society matron pushes Lincoln “toward destiny,” requiring marriage with Mary Todd. Melancholy Lincoln, snared in grasping love, moves on to save our nation. Because of this book, I’ll always consider Abraham Lincoln a beautiful man.

By Louis Bayard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Courting Mr. Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one's short list to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. "I can only hope," she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, "that his waters being so very still, they also run deep."

It's not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln…


Book cover of Abraham Lincoln: A Life

Garry Wills Author Of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America

From my list on Abraham Lincoln, his life, and his words.

Why am I passionate about this?

In high school (the best time for doing this) I read the first two volumes of Carl Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Lincoln. A year or so later I made my first trip on an airplane (Saint Louis to Detroit) and an easily recognizable Sandburg was one of the few passengers on our small commercial prop-plane. I was too shy to approach him, but I did sidle up the aisle to see what he was reading or writing (nothing that I could make out). He had boarded the plane alone, but there was a small party meeting him when we landed. I suppose it was Sandburg’s poetic approach to Lincoln that made me alert to the President’s astonishing feel for the English language.

Garry's book list on Abraham Lincoln, his life, and his words

Garry Wills Why did Garry love this book?

All right, children, it is time to eat our vegetables. This massive work of two volumes, each about a thousand pages, is biography as encyclopedia.  And the original text has been trimmed down to this published version. The original text, in all its length and density, can be read online at the  Lincoln Studies Center of Knox College. If the book seems too daunting, just look up in the informative index something you think you know about Lincoln – his Cooper Union address, say, or the Gettysburg Address, or the Second Inaugural --- turn to the relevant pages and see how much more there is to know about your subject. Or, for some racy material, look up “Mary Todd Lincoln, adultery.” Lincoln biographers have always been tough on his wife, but not as harsh as Burlingame is. Once you start looking up something you thought you knew, you will be…

By Michael Burlingame,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abraham Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln to be published in decades, Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame offers a fresh look at the life of one of America's greatest presidents. Incorporating the field notes of earlier biographers, along with decades of research in multiple manuscript archives and long-neglected newspapers, this remarkable work will both alter and reinforce our current understanding of America's sixteenth president. Volume 1 covers Lincoln's early childhood, his experiences as a farm boy in Indiana and Illinois, his legal training, and the political ambition that led to a term in Congress in the 1840s. In volume 2,…


Book cover of Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Amy Gary Author Of In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

From my list on biographies of bold women.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1990, Amy Gary discovered unpublished manuscripts and songs from Margaret Wise Brown tucked away in a trunk in the attic of Margaret’s sister’s barn. Since then, Gary has catalogued, edited, and researched all of Margaret’s writings. She has worked with several publishers to publish more than 100 of those manuscripts, which include bestsellers and Caldecott nominees.

Amy’s work on Margaret has been covered in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and on NPR. Her biography on Margaret, In the Great Green Room, was published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, and was named a best book of the year in 2017 by Amazon.

She was formerly the Director of Publishing at Lucasfilm and headed the publishing department at Pixar Animation studios. In addition to writing, she packages books for retailers and consults with publishers. In that capacity, she has worked with Sam’s Wholesale, Books-a-Million, Sterling Publishers, and Charles Schultz Creative Associates.

Amy's book list on biographies of bold women

Amy Gary Why did Amy love this book?

The stars had to align perfectly for this autobiography to have been written. Born into slavery in the American South, Elizabeth Keckley learned to read and write at a time when laws forbade it. Her skills as a seamstress allowed her to buy her freedom and later become Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker. She also became a close confidant of the First Lady, gaining an unfiltered view of life in the White House during one of the most crucial times in our nation’s history. After Lincoln’s assassination, Keckley published this autobiography and was widely criticized for relaying intimate conversations and private moments she shared with the Lincoln family. In addition, Keckley’s unflinching account of slavery was difficult for many to read. However, this book has endured as one of the best accounts of life as a slave and of the Lincolns’ time in the White House.

By Elizabeth Keckley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Behind the Scenes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Behind the Scenes: or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House was first published in 1868 and is considered one of the most candid and poignant slave narratives. Author Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley writes about her teenage years, working as a slave for the Rev. Robert Burwell in Hillsborough, NC. He is thought by many historians to have been Keckley s half-brother. The Burwells had twelve children and ran an academy for girls. She writes about mistreatment and violence visited upon her by Rev. and Mrs. Burwell, and the unwelcome sexual advances and eventual rape by one…


Book cover of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Cathal J. Nolan Author Of Mercy: Humanity in War

From my list on how wars are won and lost.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning teacher and writer who introduces students and readers to war in a profession that today is at best indifferent to military history, and more often hostile. That gives me a wry sense of irony, as colleagues would rather teach about fashion than fascism and truffles over tragedy. Having written a multiple award-winning book that covered 2,000 years of war, frankly I was sickened by how the same mistakes were made over and again. It has made me devoted to exploring possibilities for humane behavior within the most inhumane and degraded moral environment humanity creates; where individuality is subsumed in collective violence and humanity is obscured as a faceless, merciless enemy.

Cathal's book list on how wars are won and lost

Cathal J. Nolan Why did Cathal love this book?

Beautifully written masterwork on one of the most important wars of the 19th century. It takes the reader from the experience of ordinary soldiers in battle to key debates around the cabinet table, in a rare display of dexterity and understanding of all levels of war. You will enter Grant’s HQ from where he ran the critical Western theater of operations and sit across from Lincoln as he makes the key decision for a hard war that let the Union maximize its resources and win. And you will walk into Lee’s HQ where the Confederacy lost the war in bursts of Southern hubris that led to two ill-conceived invasions of the North that provoked the final crushing.  

By James M. McPherson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Battle Cry of Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now featuring a new Afterword by the author, this handy paperback edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom is without question the definitive one-volume history of the Civil War.
James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. From there it moves into…


Book cover of Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln

Julian Sher Author Of The North Star: Canada and the Civil War Plots Against Lincoln

From my list on Civil War plots against Lincoln from Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an investigative journalist for four decades and the author of eight books. From covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to biker gangs or online child predators, I have always tried to encourage people to question their assumptions and popular beliefs. When I was a history student at McGill University in Montreal, I came across a plaque to Jefferson Davis, the leader of the slave South, on the walls of one of our major department stores. Why were we honoring the Confederates more than a century after the Civil War? That quest led me to dig into the myths about the Civil War and the fight against slavery.

Julian's book list on Civil War plots against Lincoln from Canada

Julian Sher Why did Julian love this book?

I love details, intrigue, and rigorous fact digging, and this book makes gripping reading as the authors detail the money, men, and machinations that went into the slave South’s secret war. 

It puts John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Lincoln in its proper, wider context of the Confederacy’s many plots against the Union–and you discover why and how Canada played an important role in the hidden war against the Union.

Come Retribution

By William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall, David Winfred Gaddy

What is this book about?

Many Confederates believed that Abraham Lincoln himself was the sponsor of the Union army's heavy destruction of the South. With John Wilkes Booth as its agent, the Confederate Secret Service devised a plan of retribution--to seize President Lincoln, hold him hostage, and bring the war-weary North to capitulation. The code word for this stratagem was ""Come Retribution."" But when Booth was stymied, the Secret Service took another course. They conspired to bomb the White House during a conference of senior Union officials. But this plot also failed. Next, the Confederates devised for Confederate forces to abandon Richmond and Petersburg and…


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