100 books like Lincoln's Virtues

By William Lee Miller,

Here are 100 books that Lincoln's Virtues fans have personally recommended if you like Lincoln's Virtues. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics

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?

I was thrilled when I read this book, the first one I found that cited Frederick Douglass’s little-known 1865 eulogy of Lincoln describing him as “emphatically the black man’s president.”

Historians often cited Douglass’s well-known 1876 speech (where he called Lincoln “preeminently the white man’s president”) but ignored the eulogy that I had discovered in Douglass’s papers at the Library of Congress. In vain I had long tried to call scholars’ attention to it.

So when I read this book I immediately wrote the author, thanking him and praising his work. We became fast friends, enthusiasts for opera as well as history. This book shows how Lincoln and Douglass started out from different political positions but moved together over time. Like Douglass Lincoln was “at bottom a racial egalitarian.”  

By James Oakes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"My husband considered you a dear friend," Mary Todd Lincoln wrote to Frederick Douglass in the weeks after Lincoln's assassination. The frontier lawyer and the former slave, the cautious politician and the fiery reformer, the President and the most famous black man in America-their lives traced different paths that finally met in the bloody landscape of secession, Civil War, and emancipation. Opponents at first, they gradually became allies, each influenced by and attracted to the other. Their three meetings in the White House signaled a profound shift in the direction of the Civil War, and in the fate of the…


Book cover of Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership

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?

This 1981 book influenced my decision to become a Lincoln scholar, for the author – a gifted historian of the Reconstruction era – effectively challenged the regnant notion that Lincoln was a “reluctant emancipator.”

So in my first book I devoted a chapter to the origins of Lincoln’s hatred of slavery, building on the foundation that Lawanda Cox had laid.

Examining closely the president’s dealings with racial politics in Louisiana, she traced his maneuvers behind the scenes in support of emancipation and Black suffrage and concluded that Lincoln was “a determined, though circumspect, emancipator and friend of black civil and political rights, consistently striving to obtain what was possible in the face of constitutional restraints, political realities, and white prejudice.”

By Lawanda Cox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Very slightest of wear to the dust jacket, pages nice and clean, no writing or highlighting. Spotting on top edge textblock. A very nice copy. All our books are individually inspected, rated and described. Never EX-LIB unless specifically listed as such.


Book cover of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times

Jerome Slater Author Of Mythologies Without End: The US, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1917-2020

From my list on why it took so long for Lincoln to end slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a life-long admirer of Abe Lincoln, and never more so than today when American democracy is again under severe threat. Yet, like so many other admirers of Lincoln, I am puzzled why it took him so long to end slavery: it was not until January 1, 1963, nearly two years after he became president, that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed only those slaves within the Confederacy. Moreover, it wasn’t until the end of the Civil War that Lincoln was able to enforce emancipation in the South, and it wasn’t until the passage of the 13th Amendment at the end of 1865 that all slavery was ended.

Jerome's book list on why it took so long for Lincoln to end slavery

Jerome Slater Why did Jerome love this book?

I loved this book because it analyzed Lincoln’s life, thoughts, and character as they developed in 19th-century America. In this “cultural” biography, as it has been termed, an acclaimed historian focuses in particular on how Lincoln sought to reconcile his two major goals before and during his presidency: to preserve the Union and end slavery.

Though Lincoln hoped this could be done without a civil war, the obduracy of the southern states over the slavery issue made war unavoidable. Yet, the defeat of the Confederacy resulted in the realization of both of Lincoln’s goals.

By David S. Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

2 authors 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 Springfield Neighborhood

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?

Richard Hart, a prominent, civic-minded Springfield lawyer and an exceptionally kind and generous friend, was also an avid local historian who tirelessly examined original sources in search of information about Springfield during Lincoln’s time.

In 1999, he published a seminal article demonstrating that African Americans “were a significant part not only of the town’s life, but of Abraham Lincoln’s life and environment.” He then elaborated on that point in this book, written with the assistance of Bonnie Paull, a retired professor of English.

I dedicated one of my books to Hart, paying tribute to him as the author “who pioneered the way,” showing that Lincoln’s interaction with African American neighbors, friends, clients, and employees in the Illinois capital profoundly shaped his racial egalitarianism.

By Bonnie E Paull, Richard E Hart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When an emotional Abraham Lincoln took leave of his Springfield neighbors, never to return, his moving tribute to the town and its people reflected their profound influence on the newly elected president. His old neighborhood still stands today as a National Historic Site. The story of the life Lincoln and his family built there returns to us through the careful work of authors Bonnie E. Paull and Richard E. Hart. Journey back in time and meet this diverse but harmonious community as it participated in the business of everyday living while gradually playing a larger role on the national stage.


Book cover of A. Lincoln: A Biography

Talmage Boston Author Of Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts about Our Presidents

From my list on presidential biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the last eight years, I’ve conducted as many onstage interviews with leading presidential historians as anyone else in the country. To prepare for them, I read presidential biographies thoroughly and constantly. The fact that my work has been strongly endorsed by people in presidential history circles with the stature of Ken Burns, David McCullough, James Baker, Jon Meacham, and Douglas Brinkley should be a strong indication that my opinion about this subject matters.

Talmage's book list on presidential biographies

Talmage Boston Why did Talmage love this book?

It’s the best cradle-to-grave biography of Lincoln, quite an accomplishment, given that over 16,000 books have been written on him. The book goes deep on a special interest I have in our 16th president: his long and winding faith journey. White’s passion for his subject serves to energize the reader.

By Ronald C. White Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“If you read one book about Lincoln, make it A. Lincoln.”—USA Today

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Philadelphia Inquirer • The Christian Science Monitor • St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE CHRISTOPHER AWARD

Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name “A. Lincoln.” In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln according to their own label or libel. In this magnificent book, Ronald C. White, Jr., offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as…


Book cover of Tyranny in America: Capitalism and National Decay

Elizabeth Duquette Author Of American Tyrannies in the Long Age of Napoleon

From my list on thinking about what tyranny means today.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied nineteenth-century American literature and culture for more than thirty years. My friends roll their eyes when I excitedly share a passage from Charles Chesnutt, Henry James, Herman Melville, or Kate Chopin. I wrote this book because I realized that nineteenth-century thinkers and writers have a lot to teach us about tyranny, particularly the dangers it presents to our nation. I hope you’ll find the challenge of these books as important as I do!

Elizabeth's book list on thinking about what tyranny means today

Elizabeth Duquette Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This little book packs a punch!

Neal Wood was a respected scholar of political thought and he wrote this book to be accessible to many readers, motivated by his conviction that the thorough embrace of capitalist competition was degrading the character and culture of the United States.

When reading this, I could not help but think about the writings of Black Americans in the nineteenth century, who argued that greed was one of the main reasons for slavery. Wood offers a sober reminder that it is useful to think about the consequences, intended and not, of our nation’s choices and priorities.

By Neal Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The US has been subjected to the ruthless and unrelenting tyranny of the world's most advanced capitalism, permeating every aspect of American life. The chief difference from other tyrannies is its facelessness, its dependence on impersonal coercive power more than on direct violence and terror against its subjects.
A frightening irony of this new tyranny, dissected by the distinguished historian of political thought Neal Wood, is that it is producing a degenerating society and a politics headed toward collapse. All world empires have decayed from within and eventually fallen. The new tyranny's demise may long be hidden by a sophisticated…


Book cover of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

John G. Matsusaka Author Of Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge

From my list on understanding why American democracy is struggling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economist by training, who has researched and taught classes related to business, governance, and democracy for more than 30 years at the University of Southern California. My work is multidisciplinary, spanning economics, finance, law, and political science, with a grounding in empirical analysis. In addition to two books and numerous scholarly articles, I am a frequent op-ed contributor and media commentator on topics related to democracy. I also direct the Initiative and Referendum Institute, a nonpartisan education organization focused on direct democracy.

John's book list on understanding why American democracy is struggling

John G. Matsusaka Why did John love this book?

Although established in the late 1700s, the United States didn’t really become a recognizably modern democracy until the middle of the 1800s. This classic history book describes in detail how this happened in response to public pressures that were populist in nature. The story of this transformation over the 19th century reveals that populism is a recurring feature of American politics, and it has often led the country to improve its democratic practices. This is not an easy read, but offers significant rewards to the persistent reader.

By Sean Wilentz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Acclaimed as the definitive study of the period by one of the greatest American historians, The Rise of American Democracy traces a historical arc from the earliest days of the republic to the opening shots of the Civil War. Ferocious clashes among the Founders over the role of ordinary citizens in a government of "we, the people" were eventually resolved in the triumph of Andrew Jackson. Thereafter, Sean Wilentz shows, a fateful division arose between two starkly opposed democracies-a division contained until the election of Abraham Lincoln sparked its bloody resolution. Winner of the Bancroft Award, shortlisted for the Pulitzer…


Book cover of The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War

Henry G. Brinton Author Of War Bug

From my list on civil war novels and histories on global tensions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am saddened and frustrated by polarization in American life today, and I believe that the Civil War has lessons to teach us about how we can avoid deeper divisions in our country. I grew up in Maryland, a border state, and have relatives that fought for the North, as well as relatives who fought for the South. In addition, I have Quaker ancestors who hated slavery and supported the Union, but who would not fight because they were pacifists. I am passionate about understanding the tensions that have always run through American life, and want to explore the topic deeply in my reading and writing. 

Henry's book list on civil war novels and histories on global tensions

Henry G. Brinton Why did Henry love this book?

I am in awe of Erik Larson, a writer of such carefully researched histories that he will not report that a person smiled unless the expression is documented in multiple sources.

This story of the attack on Fort Sumter reads like a novel, as it describes the people and events that led to the start of the Civil War. I found myself moving quickly through the multiple short chapters, anxious to understand the many forces that led to the division of our nation.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Splendid and the Vile brings to life the pivotal five months between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War in this “riveting reexamination of a nation in tumult” (Los Angeles Times).

“A feast of historical insight and narrative verve . . . This is Erik Larson at his best, enlivening even a thrice-told tale into an irresistible thriller.”—The Wall Street Journal

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds; Southern extremists…


Book cover of Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael Author Of Stick Up For Yourself!: Every Kid's Guide to Personal Power and Positive Self-Esteem

From my list on conquering adversity.

Why are we passionate about this?

Gershen Kaufman, Ph.D., professor emeritus in psychology at Michigan State University, is a pioneer in the study of shame and author of ground-breaking books on shame. His work is considered foundational in the Recovery Movement and in Psychology. Lev Raphael, Ph.D., is an educator, editor, and author publishing in genres from memoir to mystery.  We've co-authored several books based on an innovative program we created at Michigan State University, which Free Spirit Publishing invited us to adapt for kids. This program teaches you how to build self-esteem: a crucial skill that can be taught just like reading, writing, and arithmetic—and is equally essential to living a secure, confident life.

Gershen's book list on conquering adversity

Gershen Kaufman and Lev Raphael Why did Gershen love this book?

Abraham Lincoln is the subject of hundreds of books, but no historian has ever before explored his role specifically as Commander-in-Chief and how he not only grew into that role but triumphed at it. Well-read in military strategy and possessing a sophisticated grasp of strategy itself, Lincoln was all too often way ahead of his dithering generals who failed to take advantage of their successes with an eye toward bringing the war to an earlier conclusion. With a very hands-on approach, Abraham Lincoln persisted in pushing the army always to do more, to be more, while learning from battlefield mistakes in ways many of his generals seemed incapable of. Despite tragic losses and many missed opportunities, Lincoln never gave up or gave in, and never lost his compassion, either, for the soldiers in the field.

By James M. McPherson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"James M. McPherson’s Tried by War is a perfect primer . . . for anyone who wishes to under­stand the evolution of the president’s role as commander in chief. Few histo­rians write as well as McPherson, and none evoke the sound of battle with greater clarity." —The New York Times Book Review

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author reveals how Lincoln won the Civil War and invented the role of commander in chief as we know it

As we celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, this study by preeminent, bestselling Civil War historian James M. McPherson provides a rare, fresh take on…


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,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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