A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

Stephen Harrigan. Knopf, $27.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-307-70067-4
Bestselling author Harrigan’s 10th book, after 2011’s Remember Ben Clayton, is superb historical fiction focusing on the period 1832–1861, from Lincoln’s early years as a tireless circuit-riding lawyer and Illinois state legislator to his election as the 16th president. Lincoln’s fictional friend here is Cage Weatherby, a struggling poet who first meets Lincoln on a bloody battleground during the Black Hawk War of 1832. They become unlikely close friends, and Cage soon realizes that Lincoln is “a man who desperately wanted to be better than the world would ever possibly let him be.” Cage knows his friend to be a brilliant lawyer and an astute politician, as well as a homespun raconteur and a neophyte in romance who does not understand women, stumbling from one pratfall to another. The two men are close confidantes, but a surprising murder trial, a stunning development in a courtroom, an astonishing betrayal, and Cage’s painfully emphatic argument that Lincoln should not marry ambitious and vindictive Mary Todd strain their relationship. Still, Harrigan’s standout novel shows the endurance of friendship, and historical fans will find much to savor. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/16/2015
Release date: 02/02/2016
Ebook - 978-1-101-94686-2
Hardcover - 680 pages - 978-1-4104-8927-2
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-307-74533-0
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