100 books like Lincoln's Sword

By Douglas Wilson,

Here are 100 books that Lincoln's Sword fans have personally recommended if you like Lincoln's Sword. 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 Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Richard J.M. Blackett Author Of Samuel Ringgold Ward: A Life of Struggle

From my list on abolitionist biographies about African American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was not trained in African American history, but first developed a passion for it during my first teaching job in Pittsburgh, where a number of my colleagues were interested in locating the origins of Black Nationalism and began researching the life of a local black physician, Martin R. Delany. That led me to a wider exploration of nineteenth-century African American history.

Richard's book list on abolitionist biographies about African American history

Richard J.M. Blackett Why did Richard love this book?

A giant of the nineteenth century and the leader of the struggle to end slavery needs a giant book and Blight’s is the most penetrating and comprehensive biography we have of the person many consider the voice and soul of the abolitionist movement and the struggle to win the right guaranteed in the Constitution.

By David W. Blight,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Frederick Douglass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History**

"Extraordinary...a great American biography" (The New Yorker) of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with…


Book cover of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

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?

Eric Foner, the dean of US historians, has written many superb books. None surpasses The Fiery Trial. It’s been a pleasure to share projects and platforms with him. We both recognize how sincerely Lincoln believed slavery was a terrible wrong, but protecting it was a constitutional duty. The Civil War changed all that. His commitment to emancipation never wavered once he had made it a weapon of war. His racial prejudices, common among white people, melted in wartime. As black troops fought for the Union, he came to recognize their claims of citizenship. Foner’s definitive study puts Lincoln at the heart of the interplay of race, slavery, and politics, and is a compelling riposte to those who denigrate his role in black freedom.

By Eric Foner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Fiery Trial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.


Book cover of The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution

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?

Some people assume that Lincoln at first faintly disapproved of slavery but did not think of abolishing it until the chance was almost forced upon him. Oakes argues, rather, that he hated slavery from the outset and held that the Constitution viewed it as temporary, something deplorable and to be disparaged. Armed with this knowledge, he was able in practice to strike at it whenever opportunity made that possible.

By James Oakes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crooked Path to Abolition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The long and turning path to the abolition of American slavery has often been attributed to the equivocations and inconsistencies of anti-slavery leaders, including Lincoln himself. But James Oakes's brilliant history of Lincoln's anti-slavery strategies reveals a striking consistency and commitment extending over many years. The linchpin of anti-slavery for Lincoln was the Constitution of the United States.

Lincoln adopted the anti-slavery view that the Constitution made freedom the rule in the United States, slavery the exception. Where federal power prevailed, so did freedom. Where state power prevailed, that state determined the status of slavery and the federal government could…


Book cover of Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion

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?

When newspapers were the only medium before radio and TV and the internet, they were omnipresent in their own way, and highly partisan. They played dirty, and Lincoln did too. He knew that his careful words would have no impact unless he could get them printed in at least some of the papers he favored, bribed with access and rewards, or helped outflank their (and his) rivals.

By Harold Holzer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Lincoln believed that ‘with public sentiment nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.’ Harold Holzer makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Lincoln’s leadership by showing us how deftly he managed his relations with the press of his day to move public opinion forward to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

From his earliest days, Lincoln devoured newspapers. As he started out in politics he wrote editorials and letters to argue his case. He spoke to the public directly through the press. He even bought a German-language newspaper to appeal to that growing electorate in…


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 and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America

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?

I first encountered Lincoln as an Oxford undergraduate, spellbound by his public jousting with the “Little Giant,” Stephen Douglas, his Democratic opponent in the US Senate race of 1858. The campaign crisscrossed the plains of Illinois and brought the Republican Lincoln to national attention. Guelzo, a Lincoln Prize-winner, writes stylishly, capturing the feel of the prairies, and above all gets to the heart of the issues that divided the candidates: race and slavery. An unapologetic white supremacist, Douglas was neutral on slavery; Lincoln argued against it and its westward spread. He declared slavery wrong and at odds with the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Douglas was elected but Lincoln’s raised profile would help elect him to the presidency two years later.

By Allen C. Guelzo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the two-time winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize, a stirring and surprising account of the debates that made Lincoln a national figure and defined the slavery issue that would bring the country to war.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history.

What carried this one-term congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United…


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 The Emotion Thesaurus

Cara Bristol Author Of Naughty Words for Nice Writers: A Romance Novel Thesaurus

From my list on reference and writing for romance authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing more than sixty romance novels, I can sometimes find myself at a loss for words, unable to think of the right word or find myself using the same ones. Having a good thesaurus is invaluable. I use my own thesaurus, Naughty Words for Nice Writers, all the time. I wrote it as a survival guide—it was the book I needed that didn’t exist when I started writing romance. Besides Naughty Words, the thesauri/reference books I’m recommending are tools I couldn’t live without. 

Cara's book list on reference and writing for romance authors

Cara Bristol Why did Cara love this book?

Romance is all about feelings. The highs. The lows. The dejection and the joys. But you need to “show” and not “tell” how your characters are feeling.

To do that, you use gestures, dialogue, facial expressions, internal sensations, and thoughts. The Emotion Thesaurus provides all that and more. There are more than 130 entries to help writers show emotion. This is a fantastic book for all novel genres. If I could only keep one reference book (other than mine), this would be it!

By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Emotion Thesaurus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling Emotion Thesaurus, often hailed as “the gold standard for writers” and credited with transforming how writers craft emotion, has now been expanded to include 55 new entries! 

One of the biggest struggles for writers is how to convey emotion to readers in a unique and compelling way. When showing our characters’ feelings, we often use the first idea that comes to mind, and they end up smiling, nodding, and frowning too much. 

If you need inspiration for creating characters’ emotional responses that are personalized and evocative, this ultimate show-don’t-tell guide for emotion can help. It includes:

Body language…


Book cover of The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase

Karen C. Murdarasi Author Of Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong: Featuring a pirate monk, a French maid, and a surprising number of morris dancers

From my list on challenging your preconceptions.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and historian, I’m all about rabbit holes. When something I’ve never heard about before catches my interest, I have to find out more—and sometimes I end up writing whole books on the subject! I have a head full of bizarre little nuggets of information, and I love reading books, like the ones here, that tell me something new and change my way of thinking. 

Karen's book list on challenging your preconceptions

Karen C. Murdarasi Why did Karen love this book?

This clever and funny book explains that there are specific techniques that make good writing sound good, or a pithy phrase stick in the mind, and tells you the long and difficult Greek (or slightly easier Latin) names for all these rules you kind of knew without actually knowing.

I can hardly retain any of the Greek labels, but I do remember the fun little examples, like why Oscar Wilde’s epigrams are so striking (antithesis) and how Shakespeare totally lifted part of Julius Caesar from a historian, but polished it up (alliteration). And whenever you hear a memorable three-part phrase, it was probably longer but everyone forgot the other bits (tricolon). 

This is not one for fans of utilitarian writing, but as Forsyth says, “To write for mere utility is as foolish as to dress for mere utility.”

By Mark Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the #1 international bestselling author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon comes an education in the art of articulation, from the King James Bible to Katy Perry…

From classic poetry to pop lyrics, from Charles Dickens to Dolly Parton, even from Jesus to James Bond, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase—such as “O Captain! My Captain!” or “To be or not to be”—memorable.

In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary…


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