Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

Richard Brookhiser. Basic, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-03294-5
Historian Brookhiser (James Madison) argues that, with an ungainly, backwoods persona for which he endured ridicule and depression throughout his life, Abraham Lincoln sought refuge in the words and actions of the country's Founding Fathers, especially the duty-bound, multi-faceted George Washington. Brookhiser excels in describing Lincoln's political fights over government banks and in parsing his presidency in wartime—specifically, his detailed account of the complex evolution of the president's views on slavery. The infamous Lincoln-Douglas rivalry adds levity to this historical work, especially as each man positioned himself as the "Revolution's legitimate heir" in an attempt to reach the national political stage. Unfortunately, in aiming for casual readers, Brookhiser avoids nuances in favor of modern simplifications—for instance, in his brief background on Federalists and Republicans—and errs in playing psychologist to the young Abe. He demonstrates that the founders' struggles over slavery not only inspired the 16th president in navigating his own philosophical evolution, but also served as a crucial point of reference for Lincoln's history-altering oratory and leadership . Brookhiser's approach to examining this great American president is certainly a novel one, yet his research does not go far enough in proving Lincoln's close ties to the nation's founders. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-465-04001-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-0879-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-4945-5879-6
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