100 books like Lincoln As I Knew Him

By Harold Holzer (editor),

Here are 100 books that Lincoln As I Knew Him fans have personally recommended if you like Lincoln As I Knew Him. 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 The Day Lincoln Was Shot

Sam Rawlins Author Of Young Lincoln of New Salem

From my list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of ten, I became enthralled with Abraham Lincoln. The story of his life captured my imagination. I had to know more about him. Through the decades I searched out little-known stories, eyewitness accounts, and letters thought lost. Becoming fascinated how he went from an almost illiterate young man to becoming the person we know from history; I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois and to where he lived in New Salem to do additional research. After that, I started writing a three-year labor of love: my own Lincoln book, primarily focusing on one key period of his life. 

Sam's book list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Why did Sam love this book?

The last day of Lincoln’s life, brilliantly told within the structure of each hour becoming a chapter of the book. Bishop’s passion for the subject matter led him to research the day for 25 years, from 1930 to the book’s release in 1955.

The events of April 14, 1865 are told in a clear and concise style that will hold your attention throughout, even though you know what will happen. I felt the atmosphere of Washington City, becoming totally immersed in the narrative as the story progressed. Other readers have thought so, too, as this book has sold over 3 million copies.

By Jim Bishop,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Day Lincoln Was Shot is a gripping, minute-by-minute account of April 14, 1865: the day President Abraham Lincoln was tragically assassinated.

It chronicles the movements of Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth during every movement of that fateful day. Author and journalist Jim Bishop has fashioned an unforgettable tale of tragedy, more gripping than fiction, more alive than any newspaper account.
 
First published in 1955, The Day Lincoln Was Shot was a huge bestseller, and in 1998 it was made into a TNT movie, with Rob Morrow as Booth.
 


Book cover of Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

Sam Rawlins Author Of Young Lincoln of New Salem

From my list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of ten, I became enthralled with Abraham Lincoln. The story of his life captured my imagination. I had to know more about him. Through the decades I searched out little-known stories, eyewitness accounts, and letters thought lost. Becoming fascinated how he went from an almost illiterate young man to becoming the person we know from history; I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois and to where he lived in New Salem to do additional research. After that, I started writing a three-year labor of love: my own Lincoln book, primarily focusing on one key period of his life. 

Sam's book list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Why did Sam love this book?

This is an insightful examination of Lincoln’s struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. The author has done a masterful job of exploring Lincoln’s bouts of sadness, which began in his childhood and continued throughout his life, often closing in on him. My own research revealed much the same: from a cruel father with no real understanding of his son to the tragic loss of those he loved. It was always in the back of his mind, eating at him.

The National Mental Health Association and others have praised this book. If you want to get inside Lincoln, read this wonderful study of the man.

By Joshua Wolf Shenk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A nuanced psychological portrait of Abraham Lincoln that finds his legendary political strengths rooted in his most personal struggles.

Giving shape to the deep depression that pervaded Lincoln's adult life, Joshua Wolf Shenk’s Lincoln’s Melancholy reveals how this illness influenced both the President’s character and his leadership. Mired in personal suffering as a young man, Lincoln forged a hard path toward mental health. Shenk draws on seven years of research from historical record, interviews with Lincoln scholars, and contemporary research on depression to understand the nature of Lincoln’s unhappiness. In the process, Shenk discovers that the President’s coping strategies—among them,…


Book cover of The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Author Of Young Lincoln of New Salem

From my list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of ten, I became enthralled with Abraham Lincoln. The story of his life captured my imagination. I had to know more about him. Through the decades I searched out little-known stories, eyewitness accounts, and letters thought lost. Becoming fascinated how he went from an almost illiterate young man to becoming the person we know from history; I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois and to where he lived in New Salem to do additional research. After that, I started writing a three-year labor of love: my own Lincoln book, primarily focusing on one key period of his life. 

Sam's book list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Why did Sam love this book?

Reading this collection of stories and sayings from (or about) Lincoln, it’s easy to see what an incredible person he was. From his early years on the frontier through his time as a lawyer, on to his presidential years, his personality is revealed through his observations. Lincoln’s storytelling contained a great deal of wit and wisdom for his listeners. This book is a history lover’s dream, making one realize how much this country lost when an assassin’s bullet cut him down.

By Anthony Gross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From The Introduction:
For many years the editor has collected and studied the literature relating to Abraham Lincoln, and his interest has led to the preparation of a book which he has endeavored to make both authentic and significant. His purpose has been to select stories which embody truth and point, and to arrange them, as far as possible, consecutively, so that they may furnish continuous illustrations of the various stages of Lincoln's wonderful career. Various dubious and often maudlin tales which have been attributed to Lincoln have been omitted. While it would be impossible to claim that any collection…


Book cover of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Author Of Young Lincoln of New Salem

From my list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of ten, I became enthralled with Abraham Lincoln. The story of his life captured my imagination. I had to know more about him. Through the decades I searched out little-known stories, eyewitness accounts, and letters thought lost. Becoming fascinated how he went from an almost illiterate young man to becoming the person we know from history; I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois and to where he lived in New Salem to do additional research. After that, I started writing a three-year labor of love: my own Lincoln book, primarily focusing on one key period of his life. 

Sam's book list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Why did Sam love this book?

A carefully researched portrait of Lincoln’s inner world and private life is explored by the author in a brilliant book. The Lincoln that emerges from this volume is someone whose marriage to Mary Todd was, according to William Herndon, “a burning scorching hell.” The inner turmoil Lincoln suffered during his life would have broken a lesser man. To fully appreciate Lincoln, this is a must-read.

By Michael Burlingame,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Published to a flurry of praise--and consternation--from Lincoln scholars, Burlingame's book takes a hard and unsentimental look at, among other things, Abraham Lincoln's excruciating yet fruitful midlife crisis, his marriage to a dishonest woman who often embarrassed and sometimes physically abused him, his estrangement from his father, his explosive temper, and his aversion to women.


Book cover of Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln

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?

People known for witty sayings or informative stories – think Mark Twain and Dorothy Parker, or Yogi Berra and Samuel Goldwyn – tend to have any such items foisted on them. Lincoln, who was a genuine purveyor of funny and biting remarks is a victim of this form of theft in reverse. Any pointed or funny words get more dignity or heft if attributed to him. It is amazing how many such pseudo quotes are collected and sifted by the Fehrenbachers. There is a whole false American history that could be woven together from these fakes.

By Don E. Fehrenbacher (editor), Virginia Fehrenbacher (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive collection of remarks attributed to Abraham Lincoln by his contemporaries. Much of what is known or believed about the man comes from such utterances, which have been an important part of Lincoln biography. About his mother, for instance, he never wrote anything beyond supplying a few routine facts, but he can be quoted as stating orally that she was the illegitimate daughter of a Virginia aristocrat. Similarly, there is no mention of Ann Rutledge in any of his writings, but he can be quoted as saying when he was president-elect, "I did honestly and truly…


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 Lincoln

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?

Donald’s one-volume biography of Lincoln remains the standard in the field. I knew David Donald and found him always generous. From his perch at Harvard, Donald dominated the Lincoln field for many decades. His biography of Lincoln stands head and shoulders above a host of more recent studies. In fact, it surprises me people keep writing biographies of Lincoln that go over the same ground repeatedly. Donald brings Lincoln alive with the authority that comes from a lifetime of reflection and writing on the Civil War and our greatest president.

By David Herbert Donald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A masterful work by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.

Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country divided by civil war. Donald goes beyond biography, illuminating the gradual development of Lincoln’s character, chronicling his tremendous capacity for evolution and growth, thus illustrating what made it possible for a man so inexperienced and so unprepared for the presidency to become a great moral leader. In the most troubled of times,…


Book cover of Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural

Richard J. Carwardine Author Of Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power

From my list on what made Abraham Lincoln a great president.

Why am I passionate about this?

How could a historian of the US not find Lincoln an endlessly fascinating figure? As a young(ish) university teacher, I jumped at the invitation to write a study of the 16th president, but didn’t expect it to win the coveted Lincoln Prize. When it did, in 2004, the community of American Lincoln scholars made me, a Welsh professor from Oxford University, doubly welcome. In several books I’ve examined Lincoln’s political skill, strategic ambition, and moral purposes. But he was more than a gifted pragmatist. His greater goal was to leave his nation stronger and a little closer to realizing the principles of equality laid out in the Declaration of Independence of 1776.

Richard's book list on what made Abraham Lincoln a great president

Richard J. Carwardine Why did Richard love this book?

Lincoln’s religious faith, a puzzle to many, has been a central interest of mine. As a young man Lincoln was accused of infidelity; in maturity he made no religious profession. Yet he read and reread the Bible, attended church in Washington, reflected on God’s purposes, and shared ideas with ministers. White has written several studies of Lincoln, including a fine biography, but none surpasses this bright gem of a book. He explains why Lincoln considered his second inaugural address, delivered as the war ended, to be his greatest speech—a sermon rooted in faith. Believing the war to be God’s judgment on the whole nation for its complicity in the sin of slavery, he urged postwar charity to all. Fittingly, its text is paired with the Gettysburg Address in the Lincoln Memorial.  

By Ronald C. White Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After four years of unspeakable horror and sacrifice on both sides, the Civil War was about to end. On March 4, 1865, at his Second Inaugural, President Lincoln did not offer the North the victory speech it yearned for, nor did he blame the South solely for the sin of slavery. Calling the whole nation to account, Lincoln offered a moral framework for peace and reconciliation. The speech was greeted with indifference, misunderstanding, and hostility by many in the Union. But it was a great work, the victorious culmination of Lincoln's own lifelong struggle with the issue of slavery, and…


Book cover of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times

Michael Burlingame Author Of The Black Man's President: Abraham Lincoln, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Equality

From my list on Lincoln as an anti-racist.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a college freshman, I was profoundly affected by a mesmerizing, Pulitzer-Prize-winning professor and Lincoln scholar, David Herbert Donald, who became an important mentor. I was drawn to Lincoln as source of personal inspiration, someone who triumphed over adversity, one who despite a childhood of emotional malnutrition and grinding poverty, despite a lack of formal education, despite a series of career failures, despite a woe-filled marriage, despite a tendency to depression, despite a painful midlife crisis, despite the early death of his mother and his siblings as well as of his sweetheart and two of his four children, became a model of psychological maturity, moral clarity, and unimpeachable integrity.

Michael's book list on Lincoln as an anti-racist

Michael Burlingame Why did Michael love this book?

As I read through this “cultural biography,” I was delighted to find that among the many subjects he covers, the distinguished author devoted much attention to the racial climate of antebellum America, for, as he put it, Lincoln’s “attitudes toward race must be measured against those of the surrounding culture. Only then can we responsibly come to a conclusion about this crucial topic.”

That responsible conclusion: Lincoln was “leftist abolitionist who loathed racism” and a “radical anti-racist.” A literary scholar, Reynolds notes that Lincoln “cunningly surrounded” seemingly racist pronouncements “with phrases that pointed in a radically abolitionist direction.”

Moreover, Reynolds rightly insisted that only by examining Lincoln’s “personal interchange with black people” can “we see the complete falsity of the charges of innate racism that some have levelled at him.”

By David S. Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now an Apple TV+ documentary, Lincoln's Dilemma, airing February 18, 2022.

One of the Wall Street Journal's Ten Best Books of the Year | A Washington Post Notable Book | A Christian Science Monitor and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2020

Winner of the Gilder Lehrman Abraham Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award

"A marvelous cultural biography that captures Lincoln in all his historical fullness. . . . using popular culture in this way, to fill out the context surrounding Lincoln, is what makes Mr. Reynolds's biography so different and so compelling . . . Where did…


Book cover of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image

David Prior Author Of Between Freedom and Progress: The Lost World of Reconstruction Politics

From my list on how the Civil War changed history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of the Civil War, I love thinking about how the war shaped what came after it. The Civil War, and the abolition of slavery that was wrapped up with it, is perhaps the most important turning point in the history of the United States. It had so many afterlives and made such a deep impact on everything from the daily lives of the formerly enslaved in the southern states to popular culture to the shape of the country’s economy. As a historian of the period, I’ve written and edited multiple books and scholarly articles on the period. Still, I remain fascinated by how much more there is to learn and study!  

David's book list on how the Civil War changed history

David Prior Why did David love this book?

I loved how this book offered an intellectual history of the Lincoln administration in action and memory, and with a personal touch.

Focusing on the lives and works of Lincoln’s two personal secretaries, who—as Zeitz points outwere perhaps more akin to a modern president’s Chief of Staff, Zeitz takes you from the prewar years, through the war itself, and then deep into the changing landscape of post-war America.

I enjoyed how it provided a front-row seat to see the rough-and-tumble world of American politics, the process of getting things done during Lincoln’s presidency, and the refashioning of Lincoln’s image in the public mind.

Nicolay and Hay together assembled a monumental history of Lincoln and his presidency, one that still shapes scholarly understandings of him to this day. 

By Joshua Zeitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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