Lincoln in Private: What His Most Personal Reflections Tell Us About Our Greatest President

Ronald C. White. Random House, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-984855-09-1
Abraham Lincoln’s private jottings reveal his evolving outlook in this probing biographical study. Biographer White (A. Lincoln) examines 12 short, never-published writings Lincoln penned to himself, including fragmentary drafts of speeches and ruminations on contemporary issues. (An appendix contains the full texts of all 109 such writings that survive.) The notes White focuses on run the gamut from meditations on Niagara Falls, whose thunderous force reminds Lincoln of “the vast power the sun is constantly exerting in quiet, noiseless operation of lifting water up to be rained down again,” to advice to lawyers (“never take your whole fee in advance,” he warns, lest one lose the incentive to win the case), and caustic denunciations of theologians who claimed slavery was God’s will: “Wolves devouring lambs, not because it is good for their own greedy maws, but because it is good for the lambs!!!” White frames the writings with insightful analysis of Lincoln’s maturing politics and rhetorical style, with its homespun metaphor, steel-trap logic, rhapsodies to liberty, curiosity about cause-and-effect mechanics, and brooding faith in the mysterious workings of Providence. Lincoln fans will love these novel glimpses into his powerful mind. Agent: Mary Evans, Mary Evans, Inc. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/04/2021
Release date: 05/04/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-9848-5510-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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