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“Full, fair, and accurate. . . . Certainly the most objective biography of Lincoln ever written.” —Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald, New York Times Book Review From preeminent Civil War historian Stephen B. Oates comes the book the Washington Post hails as “the standard one-volume biography of Lincoln.” Oates’ With Malice Toward None is recognized as the seminal b “Full, fair, and accurate. . . . Certainly the most objective biography of Lincoln ever written.” —Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald, New York Times Book Review From preeminent Civil War historian Stephen B. Oates comes the book the Washington Post hails as “the standard one-volume biography of Lincoln.” Oates’ With Malice Toward None is recognized as the seminal biography of the Sixteenth President, by one of America’s most prominent historians.


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“Full, fair, and accurate. . . . Certainly the most objective biography of Lincoln ever written.” —Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald, New York Times Book Review From preeminent Civil War historian Stephen B. Oates comes the book the Washington Post hails as “the standard one-volume biography of Lincoln.” Oates’ With Malice Toward None is recognized as the seminal b “Full, fair, and accurate. . . . Certainly the most objective biography of Lincoln ever written.” —Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald, New York Times Book Review From preeminent Civil War historian Stephen B. Oates comes the book the Washington Post hails as “the standard one-volume biography of Lincoln.” Oates’ With Malice Toward None is recognized as the seminal biography of the Sixteenth President, by one of America’s most prominent historians.

30 review for With Malice Toward None: A Biography of Abraham Lincoln

  1. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    An intimate portrait of Lincoln; if I hadn’t liked Lincoln before reading Stephen Oates’ biography, With Malice Toward None, it surely would have won me over. Not that it’s a glowing eulogy or strays from the factual, but simply that it shows the innumerable obstacles—circumstances, people, events—he overcame during a remarkable life. In the beginning I grumped a little. It seemed a long, slow lead up of failures, and he failed a LOT, to ‘the interesting stuff’. But it was a necessary preparation An intimate portrait of Lincoln; if I hadn’t liked Lincoln before reading Stephen Oates’ biography, With Malice Toward None, it surely would have won me over. Not that it’s a glowing eulogy or strays from the factual, but simply that it shows the innumerable obstacles—circumstances, people, events—he overcame during a remarkable life. In the beginning I grumped a little. It seemed a long, slow lead up of failures, and he failed a LOT, to ‘the interesting stuff’. But it was a necessary preparation for the mission of his whole life. No matter how many times I read or hear of Lincoln’s assassination I hope and pray—for the country’s sake if not his own—for a different outcome. Perhaps the bitterness, hatred, prejudice, and vengeance festering in hearts, North and South, after the Civil War, would have proved insurmountable even for Lincoln. Perhaps even Lincoln’s calm, careful, and deliberate weighing of all sides was effective only in wartime and would not have stood him during the years of Reconstruction. Perhaps.* And yet, I still think he could have made a positive difference as president had he lived. But probably it was God’s mercy. He had given enough. He had gotten us through our worst war ever. Only after Lincoln’s death, was he truly appreciated. One hundred-fifty years later, his tremendous impact on our country as well as our immense loss is brought home to me. A hard book to follow up. *Certainly even his friends turned on him every time he made a decision they didn’t like. But isn’t that human nature? ‘I approve of you, so long as you agree with me?’ ======================================= October 17, 2017: A huge Lincoln fan. I have multiple statues, books, movies and other memorabilia of Lincoln. But this is my first time to read this book ... actually we are listening to it. Discovered there is a sequel to it: Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths, which I may read. But no, I will not read, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, even though my friend who also loves Lincoln says I should. I just refuse.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    No book has ever made me cry like this- then again, I don't read many biographies. It took me much longer to read than I anticipated. Not because it wasn't interesting- but because it was a long book with a lifetime's worth of detailed information. By the end I had really grown to love Lincoln and when his final days drew near I was deeply moved by his life and sacrifices and what he accomplished under what I can only describe as divine guidance. Everyone ought to study history. We romanticize a No book has ever made me cry like this- then again, I don't read many biographies. It took me much longer to read than I anticipated. Not because it wasn't interesting- but because it was a long book with a lifetime's worth of detailed information. By the end I had really grown to love Lincoln and when his final days drew near I was deeply moved by his life and sacrifices and what he accomplished under what I can only describe as divine guidance. Everyone ought to study history. We romanticize and misjudge our ancestors when the truth is people are people no matter the era. And every now and then we get an Abraham Lincoln.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    With this fine 1977 biography, historian Stephen B. Oates makes a helpful contribution to the crowded field of Lincoln studies. Relatively concise (for a Lincoln biography) at 436 pages, With Malice Toward None provides a well-reasoned and thoughtful look at the life of the greatest American President. Oates, formerly a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, focused throughout his career on the search for racial justice in America, with biographies of key figures in that With this fine 1977 biography, historian Stephen B. Oates makes a helpful contribution to the crowded field of Lincoln studies. Relatively concise (for a Lincoln biography) at 436 pages, With Malice Toward None provides a well-reasoned and thoughtful look at the life of the greatest American President. Oates, formerly a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, focused throughout his career on the search for racial justice in America, with biographies of key figures in that struggle: Nat Turner, John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, Martin Luther King Jr. With his biographies of Nat Turner and John Brown, Oates chronicled the lives of people who went outside the forms of law in order to fight the injustice and cruelty of slavery. When he wrote With Malice Toward None, Oates turned his attention to an American leader who despised slavery just as much as Nat Turner and John Brown did – but who, with his legal training and his enduring belief in the power and the supremacy of the law, combatted slavery using legal and Constitutional means. Oates is willing to engage the ambiguities of Lincoln’s life. When talking about the future president’s career as a lawyer in the Eighth Judicial Circuit of pre-Civil War Illinois, for example, Oates points out that Lincoln “defended both sides in fugitive slave cases, which illustrates the essentially pragmatic approach to the law he and most other attorneys adopted.” He even emphasizes the “cold and brutal logic” through which “attorney Lincoln could set aside his personal convictions – for he claimed to hate slavery – and go all out to win for a client, even if that meant sending a family back into bondage” (p. 101). One senses here the tension between Oates’s admiration for Lincoln’s later anti-slavery work and his disapproval of Lincoln, as a practicing attorney, “working both sides” of the slavery issue. Sometimes, I felt that Oates, with his strongly held moral beliefs, might have been projecting his own feelings onto Lincoln. When discussing the secession of Virginia, for example, Oates writes that Lincoln was “embittered” by “the lightning speed with which many of Virginia’s Union men had joined the secessionists and voted for disunion….Yes, Lincoln was angry with the people of Virginia. They had allowed ‘this giant insurrection’ to make its nest within their borders, within sight of his office windows where he could see the chimneys and church steeples of Alexandria” (pp. 226-27). From my own review of Lincoln’s correspondence and other writings of that time, my reading of his emotions at that time is quite different. Lincoln was saddened, to be sure, by Virginia’s decision to secede. He was also surprised; President Lincoln seems to have consistently overestimated the extent of Southern Unionism, particularly in the Upper South. And he was worried about the strategic and tactical problems involved in protecting the Union capital at Washington, D.C., now that a new political entity claiming to be an independent republic was flying its flag and mustering its military forces right across the Potomac River. But “angry”? “Embittered”? I don’t see it that way. Rather, I think that Lincoln at this time bore himself as Horatio describes the ghost of Hamlet’s father – with “a countenance more in sorrow than in anger.” Oates writes well about strategic and tactical elements of Civil War military history. Considering his career-long commitment to issues of human rights, however, it should be no surprise that where With Malice Toward None really shines is in its depiction of how Lincoln’s stance on the slavery question evolved. At first, Lincoln hoped simply to see the “peculiar institution” restricted to the Southern states in which it was located; later, he saw emancipation as a way to attack and weaken a Confederacy that depended upon enslaved labor to keep its military forces in the field; and still later, he felt able to advocate and push forward complete and permanent abolition of slavery throughout the Union. A crucial step in that regard, as Oates tells it, came when Lincoln summoned to the White House legislators from the slaveholding “border states” of Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland, and tried to persuade them to accept a plan for compensated emancipation of enslaved people in their states. The legislators came up with one excuse after another not to accept President Lincoln’s plan, and “Their intransigence was a sober lesson to Lincoln….[I]t was now blazingly clear that emancipation could never begin as a voluntary program on the state level. If abolition was to come, it must commence in the rebel South and then be extended into the loyal border later on. Which meant that the President must eradicate slavery himself. Yes, Lincoln could no longer avoid the responsibility” (p. 309). From this moment of realization, President Lincoln proceeded toward the Emancipation Proclamation that freed enslaved people in rebel-controlled portions of the U.S.A., and later the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery throughout the United States of America. Oates describes the Thirteenth Amendment as “a cherished political goal” for Lincoln. And Oates suggests that Lincoln championed the Thirteenth Amendment so strongly in part because he sensed the potential limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation – an act that President Lincoln had presented, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Union military forces, as a sort of emergency war measure. “He deeply feared that Congress, the courts, or a later administration might overturn the emancipation proclamation as an illegal use of power. Also, there was the argument that the proclamation affected only those slaves in the rebel South who reached Union lines” (p. 404), not helping enslaved people in Union-loyal border states, or in Confederate-held territory. Accordingly, Lincoln “set about using his powers of persuasion and patronage to get the amendment through” (p. 405) – a process dramatized in Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln (2012) – and Lincoln lived to see the official, Constitutional abolition of slavery everywhere in the United States of America pass through the House of Representatives in January of 1865. With Malice Toward None takes its title from the healing words of the conclusion of President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address – “With malice toward none, with charity for all – with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right – let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations” – and conveys well the key moments and themes of Abraham Lincoln’s extraordinary life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ricky Lutek

    What a dude! It wasn't just that he did so much, but he stayed so calm while doing it. This is a must read!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2014/... “With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln” is Stephen Oates’s 1977 classic biography of our sixteenth president. Oates is an author, historian and former professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the author of sixteen books, many of which are focused on important people and issues relating to the Civil War. Oates’s biography was the first comprehensive treatment of Lincoln in nearly two decades. Critically hailed, it http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2014/... “With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln” is Stephen Oates’s 1977 classic biography of our sixteenth president. Oates is an author, historian and former professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the author of sixteen books, many of which are focused on important people and issues relating to the Civil War. Oates’s biography was the first comprehensive treatment of Lincoln in nearly two decades. Critically hailed, it quickly gained a reputation as “the” standard Lincoln biography, replacing Benjamin Thomas’s 1952 biography in that role. Not until David Herbert Donald’s universally acclaimed “Lincoln” was published in 1995 did Oates’s biography relinquish its prominence. Thirteen years after its publication, Oates became embroiled in a plagiarism controversy when a number of “similarities” between Oates’s biography and Benjamin Thomas’s biography were discovered. The ensuing debate involved several respected historians and authors (including five Pulitzer Prize winners) and the American Historical Association. In Oates’s view he was cleared by the AHA, but in the eyes of many (including Lincoln historian Michael Burlingame) the evidence is against Oates is overwhelming. Here is Oates’s perspective on the controversy as well as that of Burlingame. Though not as beloved as it was for the two decades following its publication, “With Malice Toward None” remains a popular choice for readers. At just over 400 pages, it is by far the shortest of the “classic” Lincoln biographies. Also, Oates’s style of writing is less formal than that of other Lincoln biographers, making for a relatively easy reading experience. The book’s brevity comes at a cost, however, as much of the interesting color and detail included in longer biographies is missing here. Its ”informality” also proves to be a double-edged sword. Oates wavers between a “traditional” style of writing and one that is surprisingly colloquial. The frequent moments of vernacular language, while easy to digest, seem more designed for a “books-on-tape” narration rather than serious reading. In addition, while the author often quotes Lincoln, he also frequently paraphrases what Lincoln “may” have said on some occasion…but without using an actual quote (presumably because none exists). This “improvisation,” which I’ve never before seen in a presidential biography, assists in the flow of the story but is otherwise distracting. As a general matter, Oates’s text is quite colorful and expressive. His introduction of Mary Todd (Lincoln) to the reader may be the best I’ve read. His description of the evening of Lincoln’s assassination is the most comprehensive I’ve seen (though I’ve not yet read any of the Lincoln “assassination stories.”) Oates’s coverage of the Republican nominating convention, and the political jockeying which preceded it, is fascinating…though too concise. But the book is at its best during the presidential campaign of 1860 and in the months after Lincoln’s election. Not every important topic receives equally expert treatment. Some of Lincoln’s most important personal relationships are never fully explored (his parents and his first serious girlfriend, for example) and Oates’s description of the pivotal Lincoln-Douglas debates was the least interesting of any I’ve read. And in the end, the author takes almost no opportunity to provide insightful analysis of Lincoln’s actions or to explore his legacy. Instead, like many other biographies of this president, this book ends disappointingly quickly following Lincoln’s assassination. Overall, Stephen Oates’s “With Malice Toward None” is a solid, but not outstanding, biography of Abraham Lincoln. While there is much to praise about this book (including its comprehensive but efficient coverage of Lincoln’s life and its fluidity compared to many other biographies) it is far from perfect. Given the large number of options for Lincoln enthusiasts, Oates’s biography will appeal primarily to readers eager for a comprehensive biography of Lincoln but who lack the time required the navigate the newer six-to-eight-hundred page biographies which are enormously popular. Overall rating: 3¾ stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    My favorite Lincoln biography. Take this with a grain of salt. You know how this works when you critically assess another reader's statements - what often comes out is that it is very likely the reader's only foray into said biographies. :> Not quite true for me, I recently finished "Lincoln and Whitman: parallel lives in Civil War Washington". Another excellent read, with a finale that's hard to beat in the genre. Off to "Team of Rivals" we go . . . My favorite Lincoln biography. Take this with a grain of salt. You know how this works when you critically assess another reader's statements - what often comes out is that it is very likely the reader's only foray into said biographies. :> Not quite true for me, I recently finished "Lincoln and Whitman: parallel lives in Civil War Washington". Another excellent read, with a finale that's hard to beat in the genre. Off to "Team of Rivals" we go . . .

  7. 4 out of 5

    Russ

    I was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished. Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's political life, but you also get a sense of who he was as a person. A son, a friend, a father, a husband, a community member. Looking back, we think of Lincoln as a strong, intelligent man of leadership. And he was, but it took him a while to get there. He has his problems and weaknesses just like any other human being. A reader of this book will see how I was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished. Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's political life, but you also get a sense of who he was as a person. A son, a friend, a father, a husband, a community member. Looking back, we think of Lincoln as a strong, intelligent man of leadership. And he was, but it took him a while to get there. He has his problems and weaknesses just like any other human being. A reader of this book will see how Lincoln had to fight for everything he earned. He worked his way to the top of American political life, and once he reached the top, he found his work had only just begun. This imperfect, somewhat inexperienced man faced managing a war, dealing with splits between Democrats and Republicans and splits within the Republican party, figuring out how to free slaves and integrate them into a white society that did not want them, and above all trying to save the Union. Why was Lincoln a great man? Because he actually managed to do all of the above, or at least set things on the right path. No other President in American history faced such a great burden. Although this book isn't exactly a page-turner, it is very easy to follow and provides a very good overview of Lincoln's life, both personal and professional. If you want to have a good foundation for learning about the great Abraham Lincoln, this is an ideal place to begin.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bskidmore

    Even though I knew how this story would end, this book still had me on the edge of my seat! Lincoln is one of my heroes, and this is the only biography of his that I actually enjoyed. It wasn't as dry as most others, and read like a novel. I loved seeing him in the light of a real human, from his humble upbringing, through trial after trial, and failure after failure. He was both a spiritual and a political giant, and was no doubt divinely appointed for his time as President. I admire how benevo Even though I knew how this story would end, this book still had me on the edge of my seat! Lincoln is one of my heroes, and this is the only biography of his that I actually enjoyed. It wasn't as dry as most others, and read like a novel. I loved seeing him in the light of a real human, from his humble upbringing, through trial after trial, and failure after failure. He was both a spiritual and a political giant, and was no doubt divinely appointed for his time as President. I admire how benevolent he was, even to those who hated him, used him, and betrayed him. He stood for what he knew to be right, even in the fiercest opposition. I love Harriet Beecher Stowe's description of him: "... a man of peculiar strengths, not a strong, aggressive individual so much as a passive one with the durability of an iron cable, swaying back and forth in the tempest of politics, yet tenacious in carrying his 'great end.'" I also admire how his word was like an unbreakable contract that couldn't be broken. What a different world this would be if we could count on every politician to be as honest and trustworthy.....

  9. 4 out of 5

    Max Skidmore

    I loved this book! I learned about the Big stuff regarding Lincoln's life in grade school but I have never really understood the smaller details associated with his life. This is a fantastic history book. I was shocked that his presidency was under constant criticism...right up to the point of his assassination. It was also interesting to read about the prominent people of the day and the absolute, bigoted comments they made concerning equality of all men. If this book piques your interest in th I loved this book! I learned about the Big stuff regarding Lincoln's life in grade school but I have never really understood the smaller details associated with his life. This is a fantastic history book. I was shocked that his presidency was under constant criticism...right up to the point of his assassination. It was also interesting to read about the prominent people of the day and the absolute, bigoted comments they made concerning equality of all men. If this book piques your interest in the Civil War, check out "Killer Angels" which is THE book about the battle of Gettysburg. Abraham Lincoln truly was a national hero!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ginnie

    Extremely well done biography on Abraham Lincoln! Would recommend to everyone. Recommended to me by David I learned a lot from this book. A blessing from God that this was the man in leadership during one of the most tragic times in America's history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    “With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln” by Stephen B. Oates was a wonderful biography of our 16th president. What I liked especially about it was its balance. It was not chiefly a retelling of the Civil War battles, but rather a comprehensive one-volume accounting of Abraham Lincoln’s life. You are past page 200 before Lincoln is elected to his first Term, so there is a lot of material on his early life and work in politics. After reviewing his first years in Kentucky/Indiana/Illi “With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln” by Stephen B. Oates was a wonderful biography of our 16th president. What I liked especially about it was its balance. It was not chiefly a retelling of the Civil War battles, but rather a comprehensive one-volume accounting of Abraham Lincoln’s life. You are past page 200 before Lincoln is elected to his first Term, so there is a lot of material on his early life and work in politics. After reviewing his first years in Kentucky/Indiana/Illinois, the narrative delves into how Lincoln got interested in law, his initial efforts in political office, and then his part in the segue of Whigs into Republicans. Oates gives the reader a sense of the times, especially concerning the country’s hardening stance on slavery…many in the North originally thought it was tolerable if kept in the South where it would slowly die of its own weight, but did not want it to extend into new territories which would de facto nationalize it. We see how even Lincoln’s views on slavery crystallized over the years…how early on he was more a fan of gradual abolition followed by colonization to places like Haiti and Liberia. To make it a workable solution, he supposed the North must compensate the South for the loss of its ‘property’ should colonization occur. All of this, of course, matured into a belief that we had to stop it here and now or it would permanently divide the country. The narrative is especially strong at giving us a feel for the interplay between Lincoln and a whole cast of characters he faced in his life: Edwin Stanton, Charles Sumner, William Herndon, Ulysses Grant, William Sherman, George McClellan, James Buchanan, Stephan Douglas, Frederick Douglass, Salmon Chase, John Calhoun, and on and on. Our system of government is interesting for many reasons, few more so than how flexible it is. In Oates’ book you are reminded how Democrats fought to continue slavery in the south and extend it into the Kansas-Nebraska territory, while Republicans fought against it. Jump forward a hundred years and it would be the Democrats who brought us a measure of civil rights. All very interesting, as is this book. While there has been a lot more written on Lincoln in the intervening years, Oates’ 1977 book stands up to the competition. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Johnsergeant

    Listened to audiobook from Recorded Books. Narrated By: Nelson Runger The Los Angeles Times hails this biography as the finest ever written. With an outstanding blend of brilliant scholarship and entertaining style, Professor Stephen B. Oates brings us closer than ever before to knowing the real Abraham Lincoln. Here is Lincoln as he really was—a gentle, determined man obsessed with death yet filled with life, troubled with bouts of melancholy yet blessed with a witty nature, and gifted with a tal Listened to audiobook from Recorded Books. Narrated By: Nelson Runger The Los Angeles Times hails this biography as the finest ever written. With an outstanding blend of brilliant scholarship and entertaining style, Professor Stephen B. Oates brings us closer than ever before to knowing the real Abraham Lincoln. Here is Lincoln as he really was—a gentle, determined man obsessed with death yet filled with life, troubled with bouts of melancholy yet blessed with a witty nature, and gifted with a talent for literary expression. With Malice Toward None reads like an enthralling novel while piecing together the richest, fullest portrait of Lincoln in existence.

  13. 5 out of 5

    johnny db

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oates clearly holds Lincoln in adulation. I read the entire book wondering what human qualities and shortcomings might have been left out of glossed over. This read more like a pro - lincoln debate presentation. i'd like to hear the con viewpoint so i can make my own descision. again, great subject matter though and the arguments against the legality of secession WERE compelling and made me really re-think my position. (i didn't chionge it though) He dies at the end...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    There are many excellent biographies of Abraham Lincoln but I consider this one the best. The man that Oates writes about seems closer to Lincoln as I understand him, a master politician who still committed himself (if cautiously) to noble goals for the United States. To read this book is to understand what motivated Lincoln beyond his own considerable ambitions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lu Ann

    This text may seem tedious in regard to the details of Lincoln's early life. I found later that these details aided in my understanding of Lincoln's decisions in office. At the conclusion of the text, I felt I knew Lincoln personally and may have even shed a tear reading about his death:)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    If not pulling the USA through its greatest domestic crisis is reason enough to have Abraham Lincoln top historical polls year after year as our country's greatest president than I offer another. This most melancholy of men who deflected a lot of criticism with humor was also a man who managed to articulate issues right down to their moral imperative. It's the reason I think that Lincoln endures to this day and into the future for countless generations. He had no political office at the time the new If not pulling the USA through its greatest domestic crisis is reason enough to have Abraham Lincoln top historical polls year after year as our country's greatest president than I offer another. This most melancholy of men who deflected a lot of criticism with humor was also a man who managed to articulate issues right down to their moral imperative. It's the reason I think that Lincoln endures to this day and into the future for countless generations. He had no political office at the time the new Republican party chose its second nominee for president in 1860. The split of the Democrats in two tickets all but guaranteed his election in 1860 with barely a vote in the would be rebel states where his party wasn't on the ballot in several. The mere election to the presidency of a man not committed to maintaining the south's 'particular institution' of slavery was enough to guarantee a Civil War which we had been postponing for years. When he was the presumptive nominee of the GOP in 1858 and had that series of debates with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln had not held office for years. His experience consisted of several terms in the Illinois legislature and one term in Congress 1847-1849. All his rivals for that nomination had more experience in office. None had his gift for eloquence. He was a strange combination of melancholy and humor, the humor deflected the melancholy and it was his face to the world. He had a rare gift of not holding grudges. His Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton also an attorney had worked with him on a case years before and treated him shabbily. Not many would have put him in the Cabinet and gain his respect as well. As he said the country was in crisis and personal grudges just had to be laid aside and not entertained. Not many would have put a number of his rivals in his cabinet such as William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates. All of these were put in nomination at the 1860 Republican Convention. That aspect of Lincoln's presidency is covered in Doris Kearns Goodwin book Team Of Rivals, but Stephen B. Oates discusses it at length. Seward and Bates grew to respect their chief, Chase did his job but was a chronic schemer as well and always thought he should have been where Lincoln was. Lincoln and his many generals has also had whole studies done by military historians, lay and professional. He tried one after another until he found his man in Ulysses S. Grant. Grant in his way was as laconic as Lincoln. He also offered no excuses when he blundered as in the disaster at Cold Harbor. It was a refreshing contrast to who he was dealing with before and he kept him on until the surrender at Appomattox. William T. Sherman, Phillip H. Sheridan, and George Thomas also rose to the fore, these four brought eventual Union victory. Lincoln was married to Mary Todd Lincoln and our view of her is colored in many ways by the years of her widowhood. She broke tradition and upset her southern family by marrying a man who seemed shiftless and held views antithetical to their's. Oates says their's was a happy marriage enduring despite the death of two of her four sons. Unlike her husband, that woman excelled at nursing grudges. Like some epic play with the hero taken at the moment of supreme triumph, Lincoln is assassinated five days after the surrender at Appomattox. How he might have dealt with Reconstruction will have historians speculating for centuries. But he sure couldn't have done worse than his successor did. That story belongs in a biography of Andrew Johnson. There were outstanding books on Lincoln before this one and after this one. But Stephen Oates does a grand job in laying out the problems he faced and how he dealt with all of them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven Ott

    One gains a much greater appreciation A. Lincoln: The legitimate object of government for Lincoln was "to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not by individual effort, or do so well, for themselves." Lincoln "made simplicity and candor a mask of deep feelings carefully concealed." "Resolve to be honest at all events, and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer." The best way to avoid disaster, Lincoln insisted, was t One gains a much greater appreciation A. Lincoln: The legitimate object of government for Lincoln was "to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not by individual effort, or do so well, for themselves." Lincoln "made simplicity and candor a mask of deep feelings carefully concealed." "Resolve to be honest at all events, and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer." The best way to avoid disaster, Lincoln insisted, was through wisdom and forbearance. "I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright." Lincoln believed that people were not chained to the conditions of their birth and that they should be able to better themselves in their lives through the fruits of their own talents and hard work. Great goals for individuals and governments.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    Team of Rivals is significantly better. Read that one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    This was a hard book for me to read. I am a slow reader so it took me a long time to finish, but I learned a lot! It was hard for me to remember all the names of the cabinet members, congressmen, and soldiers. Mostly I was struck by the parallel of the political climate in the 1860's to the one today.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Quite old-fashioned, and that's not a bad thing. Oates is a cheerful sort of fellow, I think. He's a history professor at UMass Amherst and I imagine his lectures are fun, lighthearted things, full of jokes and anecdotes and cheesy cartoon video clips. He writes in that style, in prose full of interjections and opinions, free of footnotes but rich in personality. His levity can't be excused as shallowness, though, as he gives quite the rundown, especially on the political side. Oates's focus is t Quite old-fashioned, and that's not a bad thing. Oates is a cheerful sort of fellow, I think. He's a history professor at UMass Amherst and I imagine his lectures are fun, lighthearted things, full of jokes and anecdotes and cheesy cartoon video clips. He writes in that style, in prose full of interjections and opinions, free of footnotes but rich in personality. His levity can't be excused as shallowness, though, as he gives quite the rundown, especially on the political side. Oates's focus is the solitary hero: Lincoln as president, as commander-in-chief (there's tons of detail on the war effort and the relations with his generals). This is no "Team of Rivals"; Oates's Lincoln acts willfully, authoritatively, and often alone. Not a novel perspective, but a valid one. Where this biography makes it's unique contribution is portraying Lincoln as a man. There are scenes of near-classic humanity in the deaths of his son, in his agonizing over the war, in his bearing the crushing stress of his duty. Lincoln occupies in this narrative just the right spot on the stage: front and center, clearly the hero, not overshadowing the supporting cast of Seward, Sumner, Mary Lincoln, but truly the focus of some first-quality psychoanalysis. This is the most personal Lincoln biography I've yet read. His sadness, his inner conflict, his temper-- this is a truly human Lincoln. This focus leads to some truly good writing, even if it tends to occasional adulation, and it effectively drives the bulky narrative, which meanders at times in its pursuit of comprehensiveness, and offers, older as it is, fewer original insights than some other studies. A bit generic, a bit too standard. Still, a totally worthwhile,and what is more, a perfectly enjoyable book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charity

    I had to read and write a book review for my History class a few years back and this was on the book list and I chose it because I could listen to it at work and thought it would be easy. Turned out not so much. First of all it was like 18 tapes - TAPES mind you not CD's. Second of all it was the most boring book I've ever HAD to read (or listen to). However, on the flip side I learned a great deal about Abraham Lincoln and his life. I had no idea he ran for office before he was president. I gue I had to read and write a book review for my History class a few years back and this was on the book list and I chose it because I could listen to it at work and thought it would be easy. Turned out not so much. First of all it was like 18 tapes - TAPES mind you not CD's. Second of all it was the most boring book I've ever HAD to read (or listen to). However, on the flip side I learned a great deal about Abraham Lincoln and his life. I had no idea he ran for office before he was president. I guess it never crossed my mind HOW he ended up President of the United States. I also learned that in our day and age he most likely would have been diagnosed at Bi-Polar. His mood swings were typical of the disease. I also learned he loved his family a great deal. Also, he was a very smart man I most likely, I think, underestimated. In regards to the actual book, I wrote in my paper for my class that this book was NOT entertaining and my professor sent me a note that said DO THEY ALL HAVE TO BE ENTERTAINING? I wanted to write him back and send a resounding YES!! For me they must be entertaining in some form or they aren't worth my time. Even educational books, like this one, could be written better. Over all, a very dry read in my opinion, but if you want to learn about the life and times of Abe this is the book for you.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mshelton50

    This is by far the best biography of Lincoln that I have read. Oates manages to make you feel as if you see the man in full, as a man and not a marble statue. Lincoln's humor comes through, of course, but so does his anger, and most surprisingly, his self-doubt. And it is a lively read, with wonderful, insightful sketches of the important people in Lincoln's life, like his father Thomas; his wife, Mary Todd; Sec'y of State Seward; Sec'y of War Edwin Stanton; and Senator Charles Sumner. If I had This is by far the best biography of Lincoln that I have read. Oates manages to make you feel as if you see the man in full, as a man and not a marble statue. Lincoln's humor comes through, of course, but so does his anger, and most surprisingly, his self-doubt. And it is a lively read, with wonderful, insightful sketches of the important people in Lincoln's life, like his father Thomas; his wife, Mary Todd; Sec'y of State Seward; Sec'y of War Edwin Stanton; and Senator Charles Sumner. If I had to recommend a single volume biography, this would be it. Afterwards, the reader should also treat him/herself to Gore Vidal's wonderful novel, Lincoln.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ray Schneider

    This book was one of the best biographies I have ever read. As a Social Studies teacher I thought I knew a lot already about Lincoln and the Civil War, but I learned so much from this book about who Lincoln was as a human being and about the competing political forces leading up to and during the Civil War. I highly recommend it for people interested in history and for American citizens in general. And I'll say that it's crushing and sad that a man and a leader like this had to die like that.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Letricia Brooks

    Amazing book. Though you can see his bias towards Lincoln, it also shows his faults and his humanity. Love this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Took me 3 years but I finally finished it! Excellent! I learned so much about this great man that I was never taught in school. A long read, often dry, but worth the time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Read for a course my senior year of college about the definition/meaning of heroes in American history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Tynes

    The most objective biography of Lincoln told in the most compelling way. I recommend for any Lincoln fan.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alan Tomkins-Raney

    Oates is an evocative and gifted storyteller, as well as a first rate historian and biographer. This is the definitive Lincoln biography.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fmartija

    The Abraham Lincoln that we revere in modern day tends to be seen in a simplistic heroic light and oversimplifying the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, however, was a complex individual who lived a varied life in a time where the United States entered a crossroads in its history. In "With Malice Towards None", Stephen Oates skillfully walks the reader through Lincoln's life. We are not only introduced to the events of his life, but seeing the events of his life through Lincoln's eyes. Where Oates' na The Abraham Lincoln that we revere in modern day tends to be seen in a simplistic heroic light and oversimplifying the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, however, was a complex individual who lived a varied life in a time where the United States entered a crossroads in its history. In "With Malice Towards None", Stephen Oates skillfully walks the reader through Lincoln's life. We are not only introduced to the events of his life, but seeing the events of his life through Lincoln's eyes. Where Oates' narrative shines is in the way he conveys Lincoln's moods in his successes or failures to fulfill his ambitions and the compromises he decides to make to his personal values for what he considered the 'greater good' at that particular moment in time. This book really struck me in its ability to capture the pressures and anguish he experienced as the President in having balance all the perspectives and voices around him, fulfilling his duty to uphold the Constitution, and staying true to his own personal moral values. This all happened while the United States was being torn apart by a highly destructive Civil War. My favorite line of the book that captured the very essence of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States: "....she (Harriet Beecher Stowe) extolled Lincoln as a man of peculiar strengths, not a strong, aggressive individual so much as a passive one with the durability of an iron cable, swaying back and forth in the tempest of politics, yet tenacious in carrying his 'great end'. Surrounded by all sorts of conflicting claims, by traitors, by half-heated, timid men, by Border States men, and Free States men, by radical Abolitionists and Conservatives, he has listened to all, weighed the words of all, waited, observed, yielded now here and now there, but in the main kept one inflexible , honest purpose, and drawn the national ship through."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I am often hit with "I wish I could have known him/her" moments in life, and this was certainly one of them. Lincoln was a profoundly honest man. He was often chastised as a country bumpkin, lacking the elegance the people expected in the nation's leader. And although today he is revered as one of the greatest presidents in history, at the time of his presidency his popularity rose and dipped erratically, with many in his own party believing he was unfit for the job. Oates did a wonderful job de I am often hit with "I wish I could have known him/her" moments in life, and this was certainly one of them. Lincoln was a profoundly honest man. He was often chastised as a country bumpkin, lacking the elegance the people expected in the nation's leader. And although today he is revered as one of the greatest presidents in history, at the time of his presidency his popularity rose and dipped erratically, with many in his own party believing he was unfit for the job. Oates did a wonderful job describing the anguish and turmoil Lincoln fought throughout his life during his frequents bouts of "the hypo"---depression. He captured the palpable frustration Lincoln experienced with some of the Union war generals in the beginning of the Civil War who by all matters were incompetent. And the reader gets an intimate look into Lincoln's friendships with many of his cabinet members and appointees, especially William Seward and Charles Sumner. It was also illuminating to read further into Lincoln's anti-slavery beliefs; he was staunchly in favor of ending slavery but not necessarily someone who supported equal rights. His personal friend though often political rival Sumner was a passionate abolitionist who believed that blacks be afforded the same rights, including suffrage. All in all, a well-written, deeply emotional biography of a very human Abraham Lincoln.

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