10 books like Lincoln's Sword

By Douglas Wilson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Lincoln's Sword. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Frederick Douglass

By David W. Blight,

Book cover of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

My daughter gave me this biography on Frederick Douglass, knowing I am partial to American history. While it’s a massive tome, there is much to share about this most famous Black man of the 19th century.  

Douglass was the most photographed person of the era. He was everywhere, involved in abolition and reconstruction. He travelled widely, always keeping an eye on the prize: the betterment of fellow Blacks.

I embraced the story; I felt involved in Douglass’ struggles from escaping slavery to familial issues. Blight captures the era and shares countless details which add to the charisma of this courageous individual.

Frederick Douglass

By David W. Blight,

Why should I read it?

5 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…


The Fiery Trial

By Eric Foner,

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

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.

The Fiery Trial

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.


The Crooked Path to Abolition

By James Oakes,

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

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.

The Crooked Path to Abolition

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…


Lincoln and the Power of the Press

By Harold Holzer,

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

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.

Lincoln and the Power of the Press

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…


Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln

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

Book cover of Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln

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.

Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln

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…


Abraham Lincoln

By Michael Burlingame,

Book cover of Abraham Lincoln: A Life

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…

Abraham Lincoln

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,…


Lincoln and Douglas

By Allen C. Guelzo,

Book cover of Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America

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.

Lincoln and Douglas

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…


Lincoln's Greatest Speech

By Ronald C. White Jr.,

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

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.  

Lincoln's Greatest Speech

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…


The Emotion Thesaurus

By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi,

Book cover of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

When I write, I use many different tools. For example, every author needs a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and the Chicago Manual of Style. I consult places like the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to get personality traits right and take notes when watching movies to see how actors portray emotions. When I saw this title, I knew I had to have it. Like any thesaurus, it cross-references different emotions, but it does much more. It gives body language, intonation, and thoughts that accompany an emotion. It makes suggestions for dialogue and visceral responses. It provides multiple ways for an author to show what’s going on in a character’s head and heart, without telling. Most importantly, like any thesaurus, it helps writers avoid repeating themselves and thus add variety and vigor. 

The Emotion Thesaurus

By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


Plain Words

By Ernest Gowers,

Book cover of Plain Words: A Guide to the Use of English

I first read this as a teenager, and its wise counsel has stayed with me ever since. Gowers’ book was originally written as a guide for British government workers, to help them avoid the perils of jargon and ‘officialese’ and write in a way that colleagues and (more importantly) the person in the street could actually understand. 

The fact that I could immediately apply the ideas to my school essays shows you why this book has been continuously in print since the 1950s, and why generations of writers have found it so useful in shaping their own style. 

Practicing exactly what he preaches, Gowers lays down the principles of plain English, in plain English. Read and see why this deserves to be called a classic.

Plain Words

By Ernest Gowers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Be short, be simple, be human.'

When Sir Ernest Gowers first wrote Plain Words, it was intended simply as a guide to the proper use of English for the Civil Service. Within a year, however, its humour, charm and authority had made it a bestseller. Since then it has never been out of print.

Six decades on, writer Rebecca Gowers has created a new edition of this now-classic work that both revises and celebrates her great-grandfather's original. Plain Words has been updated to reflect numerous changes in English usage, yet Sir Ernest's distinctive, witty voice is undimmed. And his message…


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