A thoughtful, nuanced portrait of Abraham Lincoln that finds his legendary political strengths rooted in his most personal struggles Giving shape to the deep depression that pervaded Lincoln s adult life, Joshua Wolf Shenk s Lincoln s Melancholy reveals how this illness influenced both the president s character and his leadership Lincoln forged a hard path toward mental health from the time he was a young man Shenk draws from historical record, interviews with Lincoln scholars, and contemporary research on depression to understand the nature of his unhappiness In the process, he discovers that the President s coping strategies among them, a rich sense of humor and a tendency toward quiet reflection ultimately helped him to lead the nation through its greatest turmoil


10 thoughts on “Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

  1. Kris Kris says:

    I am starting this review with two caveats First, this book is engagingly written, and Joshua Wolf Shenk has done his research In spite of this, I don t think it s a good first book for anyone to read on Lincoln, because much of Shenk s focus is on revisionist history Although he does a laudable job providing brief overviews of some of the historiography on Lincoln, many readers will getfrom this if they have adetailed understanding of major events in Lincoln s life Second, as a I am starting this review with two caveats First, this book is engagingly written, and Joshua Wolf Shenk has done his research In spite of this, I don t think it s a good first book for anyone to read on Lincoln, because much of Shenk s focus is on revisionist history Although he does a laudable job providing brief overviews of some of the historiography on Lincoln, many readers will getfrom this if they have adetailed understanding of major events in Lincoln s life Second, as a medieval historian who gravitates to social and cultural history, I have profound concerns about psychological interpretations of the past As a graduate student, I was influenced by Thomas S Kuhn s study of the role of paradigms in science, and as someone who teaches history of sexuality I can point to many examples of how medical professionals, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, and scientists have constructed understandings of normality versus abnormality via frameworks that stem from the societies in which these scientists were trained and lived I m not suggesting that there is no physical or biological truth independent of culture however, I am arguing that cultural norms play an influential role in how people construct paradigms to explain the world around them, and that these paradigms are not restricted to myths and legends, but extend to other areas of life, including not only religion but also science I have particular concerns about applications of Freudian theory to other societies for example, Erik Erikson s Young Man Luther A Study in Psychoanalysis and History, in which Erikson applies psychoanalytic theory to understanding Martin Luther s life, made me alternatively laugh and grind my teeth Because of these concerns, I was happy to read Shenk s very clear statements in Lincoln s Melancholy How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled his Greatness that he was not interested in applying modern views of depression and mental health wholesale to his analysis of Lincoln s sadness I agree with the importance of his project, to expand studies of Lincoln into a his ideas, thoughts, emotions, contextualizing all these elements in Lincoln s culture The three stars I have given to this book show that, in my opinion, Shenk achieved this goal in part, but not completely Abraham LincolnShenk divides the book into three sections In the first, he explores Lincoln s childhood, family background, and young adulthood, while also providing a basic framework to understand how his life exemplifies certain aspects of depression In this discussion, he moves back and forth between modern definitions, and contemporary understandings of melancholy and hypochondriasis, delving both into literature on the history of medicine and primary sources written by Lincoln and his friends and associates Shenk also revisits historiographic controversy over Lincoln s relationship with Ann Rutledge, whose death occurred at the time of Lincoln s first major breakdown in 1835 Shenk carefully sifts through existing sources, and provides a cautious revisionist interpretation of what Rutledge may have meant to Lincoln Shenk concludes this section with a lengthy discussion of events in Lincoln s life leading up to his second major breakdown in 1840 1841 Once again, Shenk questions some historians assumption that a temporary parting with Mary Todd led to the breakdown, instead discussing the vague nature of evidence, recreating timelines, and expanding his consideration of stresses in Lincoln s life beyond the romantic to Lincoln s political career He spends much time discussing Lincoln s close friendship with Joshua Speed, drawing some parallels between their experiences and using Speed as a source on Lincoln s life in this period Throughout this section, Shenk argues that Lincoln s emotions fit patterns for melancholy in his time, and, to some extent, depression in our time I found particularly interesting Shenk s discussion of treatments of hypochondriasis and melancholy in Lincoln s time, and wish he had continued to focus on this context through, rather than relying as much as he did on ore current thinking about depression Ann Rutledge and Abraham Lincoln truth or myth In the second section of the book, Shenk shifts his focus to Lincoln s determination in the face of his melancholy He bore certain pressures as a self made man, a new role that put Lincoln particularly at risk to be intensely self critical and pessimistic, as he bore the responsibility for his achievements Shenk also explores some of the intellectual currents of Lincoln s time that fueled his intense self examination Throughout this discussion, Shenk provides some context to understand Lincoln s fatalism and sense of destiny, not only through cultural context, but also through an analysis of Lincoln s writings Mary Todd LincolnShenk s approach to understanding the persistence of Lincoln s melancholy after he was married shows a renewed reliance on modern understandings of depressionFrom the perspective of modern clinicians, the persistence and quality of Lincoln s symptoms call for a new diagnostic framework Major depressive disorder, which applies to Lincoln s earlier years, best describes a series of discrete episodes, even if they go on for many months at a time But when a condition lasts forthan two years, even with some breaks in symptoms, it is considered to be a chronic depression Episodic and chronic depressions have much in common, but the distinction matters Imagine a person who begins to travel abroad as a tourist The first few trips are memorable when they started, how long they lasted But if the trips grow in frequency and duration, at some point the tourist would become known as an expatriate The destination need not have changed, but the nature of the journey would call for a qualitative, not just a quantitative, distinction As it turns out, the land of chronic depression is one for which few guidebooks have been written The psychologist James P McCullough, Jr., one authority on the condition, describes it as grossly misdiagnosed, understudied, and undertreated This poses both a challenge and an opportunity in the study of Lincoln The existing literature can t definitively contextualize his experience But his life, supplemented with the shards of knowledge on chronic depression, can offer a new and valuable context In particular, it shows how depression, for good and for ill, can blend slowly, subtly, but surely with a person as he works to bring himself into balance I think that Shenk s approach, looking to Lincoln s life to lend perspective to depression, and looking to research on depression to understand Lincoln s life, leads him to rely too much on this modern perspective and research, especially in the second and third parts of the biography He did not have to take this approach in places, he discusses the 19th century view that melancholy led not only to suffering, but also to gifts for the sufferer And this argument constitutes Shenk s main thesis, which he explores in detail throughout his third section that Lincoln responded to his melancholy and breakdowns by deciding, at a certain point, that he had to continue on to fulfill a destiny much greater than he was, one that grew over time to be tied to the realization of the Founders view for this country as a place of freedom Lincoln recognized the gaps between this ideal and the reality of the Founders views as implemented, but he viewed American history as unfolding and leading towards progress According to Shenk, over time Lincoln saw the abolition of slavery as a means to help achieve this goal In addition, Lincoln s fatalism provided him with strengths during his Presidency, as he did not tend to be over optimistic in his assessment of the Union s progress in the Civil War.As a whole, I did like this book It s thoughtful, well researched, and engaging Shenk also provides some useful statements about the dangers of relying on modern definitions of depression to understand Lincoln His analysis of Lincoln s breakdowns after Ann Rutledge died in 1835 and in 1840 1841 provide some excellent examples of historical analysis of vague primary sources And many of Shenk s analysis of Lincoln are engaging, as in his chapter exploring Lincoln s coping strategies, including humor In the end, though, I found Shenk to be overly reliant on these models and research I wish he had devoted sometime to expanding on some of the fascinating contextual information he provides, as I think he s at his best when focusing on Lincoln s time period I also wish he had beenconsistent in his analysis in differentiating between contemporary reflections on Lincoln in letters and writings from the time , and retrospective reflections by Lincoln s associates and friends As a whole, though, this is a biography that provides a different emphasis to undertand Lincoln, as well as some new topics and themes to explore in studying the emotional and intellectual world of Lincoln and his contemporaries


  2. Always Pouting Always Pouting says:

    I really enjoyed this book and getting to knowabout Lincoln because I never knew how humorous and kind he was It s hard when learning history in school to see people who lived before you as being human too and I really enjoy these biographies for humanizing people for me I think the author did a good job in presenting the different opinions people had on events in Lincoln s life we aren t completely sure about I really adore Lincoln now and I really enjoyed that anecdote about him being I really enjoyed this book and getting to knowabout Lincoln because I never knew how humorous and kind he was It s hard when learning history in school to see people who lived before you as being human too and I really enjoy these biographies for humanizing people for me I think the author did a good job in presenting the different opinions people had on events in Lincoln s life we aren t completely sure about I really adore Lincoln now and I really enjoyed that anecdote about him being president during the civil war and reading the satire about himself The only thing is that towards the end the book started to feel redundant because the author s overall theme for the book was talking about Lincoln through the lens of his supposed depression and it just was a flat ending but again ending books is harder so


  3. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    Don t you find , he said, judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrowA young Circassian rider to Leo Tolstoy, when presented with a photograph of Abraham Lincoln originally told by Leo Tolstoy toe the New York World shortly before Tolstoy diedMan is born broken He lives by mending The grace of God is glueEugene O NeillAbraham Lincoln has reached one of those levels of recognition and reverence that is typically reserved fDon t you find , he said, judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrowA young Circassian rider to Leo Tolstoy, when presented with a photograph of Abraham Lincoln originally told by Leo Tolstoy toe the New York World shortly before Tolstoy diedMan is born broken He lives by mending The grace of God is glueEugene O NeillAbraham Lincoln has reached one of those levels of recognition and reverence that is typically reserved for saints and prophets His character, linked to his words and his dramatic life and death, all contribute to a continued and massive interest A Wall Street Journal article on the Lincoln publishing industry noted 16,000 Number of books publishers estimate have been written about Abraham Lincoln.5,796 Number of Lincoln biographies249 Number of biographies on Lincoln published in 2009, the bicentennial of his birth42 Number of books Harold Holzer, a Lincoln historian, has written, edited, or co edited on the 16th president2,972 Number of biographies of George WashingtonThe Ford s Theatre for Education and Leadership in Washington built a three story tower of Lincoln books.I understand the attraction a bitthan most I own several dozen Lincoln books and biographies, I am six feet six inches tall, walk with an awkward gate, and also suffer from a disease that Abe Lincoln is thought by many to have had Marfan Syndrome, see page 22 of this book I share many physical proximities and many intellectual affinities with Lincoln a love of politics, poetry, humanism, individualism, justice, and an affection for the Godly and a skepticism of the dogma of those who profess to speak for God Anyway, I have been curious about this book for years Lincoln s Melancholy attempts to 1 investigate how Lincoln s melancholy manifested itself in his early life and young manhood and how it fits and challenges the diagnostic categories of modern psychiatry , 2 show what Lincoln did in response to his melancholy, the strategies he used to heal and help himself , and 3 address how Lincoln s melancholy became intertwined with his mature character, ideas, and actions It is a three act play, a hero s journey complete with crisis, struggle, and resolution spiritual awakening Shenk doesn t sketch a perfect picture There are many gaps and contradictions and mysteries that will always surround a true inquiry into the inner Lincoln I think, however, the author was humble enough to understand the limits of his efforts The book was short enough to not waste time and interesting enough to keep me reading I think his theory of Lincoln s melancholy is fascinating It further complicates the story of a complicated, beautiful, and sad man who just may have ended up by fortune and misfortune being one of the greatest of all men


  4. Eric_W Eric_W says:

    I just don t know what to make of this book It s interesting and filled with all sorts of delectable detail, but as far as the major premise goes, I remain skeptical The author s assumption is that because melancholy and depression change your focus on how you see the world and because Lincoln suffered from what seems to be perpetual gloom, that this enabled him to become the great man he became, moving through stages of fear and on to insight and creativity Well, maybe.I have to admit that m I just don t know what to make of this book It s interesting and filled with all sorts of delectable detail, but as far as the major premise goes, I remain skeptical The author s assumption is that because melancholy and depression change your focus on how you see the world and because Lincoln suffered from what seems to be perpetual gloom, that this enabled him to become the great man he became, moving through stages of fear and on to insight and creativity Well, maybe.I have to admit that my crap detector went into overdrive on several occasions while reading this book.Frankly, given the multiple tragedies in Lincoln s life he had every reason to be gloomy Death was an ever present reality More on the barbaric medical practices of the time later Secondly, the 19th century seems to wallow in gloom Just read some of Hawthorne, Poe, and others of the early 19th and you ll feel gloomy by osmosis.Now for some of the really juicier and fun parts of this book I laughed out loud at the passages on studies on depression and the realization that happiness is really a mental disorder Abramson and Alloy termed the benefit that depressed people showed in the experiment the Depressive Realism or the Sadder but Wiser effect For example, one standard definition of mental health is the ability to maintain close and accurate contact with reality.But research shows that by this definition, happiness itself should be considered a mental disorder Priceless In fact, much research suggests that when they are not depressed, people are highly vulnerable to illusions, including unrealistic optimism, overestimation of themselves, and an exaggerated sense of their capacity to control events The lesson Get Gloomy, folks Happiness psychologist Richard Bentall suggested only half facetiously should be classified as a psychiatric disorder major affective disorder pleasant type Lincoln s hypochondriasis as it was known was treated in his day according to Dr Benjamin Rush s Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind, the stand text This included drastic interferences with the body Starting by bleeding usually 12.5 pints in two months we are really talking about a total flush here , then blistering by applying small heated cups at the temples, behind the ears, and at the nape of the neck Of course, leeches could also be used Next, drugs were given to induce vomiting and diarrhea, all the while, requiring that the patients fast, Rush noting that elephant tamers make their chargesdocile by starving them Following this regimen was a diet of stimulants including quinine and black pepper in large doses Mercury was used to purge the stomach also arsenic and strychnine Of course, mercury also causes depression, anxiety and irritability Green stools were a positive sign, indicating the black bile cause of the illness was leaving Apparently thethe patient suffered the better as it was evidence the body was being cleaned out Whether Lincoln underwent all of these treatments is unclear, although we know that Dr Henry, his physician was an advocate of Rush s treatments.Shenck appears to approve of Nietzsche s and probably Frankel would approve, too remark That which does not kill me makes me stronger Well, maybe.Occasionally, I felt that the author might have done better to write a long journal article to make his point Long digressions on the Missouri Compromise and other historical niceties while fascinating and they were, I really enjoyed his lucid presentations of all sorts of historical facts seemed unnecessary to his thesis BUT, I really did enjoy the read and would recommend it


  5. ✨Sumi& ✨Sumi& says:

    Having just read Lincoln Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan, I found that a lot of the information contained in this book was also contained in Kaplan s book In fact they even used most of the same historical quotes throughout the books And I sense I felt like I was reading the same book just with a different directive approach, this one being focused on Lincoln s depression instead of his reading and writing It s not a bad but by any means in fact it s very good book I just kind of wis Having just read Lincoln Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan, I found that a lot of the information contained in this book was also contained in Kaplan s book In fact they even used most of the same historical quotes throughout the books And I sense I felt like I was reading the same book just with a different directive approach, this one being focused on Lincoln s depression instead of his reading and writing It s not a bad but by any means in fact it s very good book I just kind of wish that I would have read them separately instead of back to back.I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with interest in the subjects of Abraham Lincoln, mental illness, an American history


  6. Danya Danya says:

    If you suffer from a mood disorder you will find great solice here To know of one who accomplished such great things while suffering from great things, gives hope.


  7. Gloria Gloria says:

    I felt like I d read ALL about Abraham Lincoln, especially when it came to his years in office as President.After finishing this book, I feel like I now know LESS about him than I did before.Shenk has done a remarkable and thorough job poring over vast collections of papers, letters, correspondence and previously published works in regard to a Lincoln we rarely see The young Lincoln passionate, somewhat volatile, and full of wicked wit and humor, but equally prone to dark moods The resigne I felt like I d read ALL about Abraham Lincoln, especially when it came to his years in office as President.After finishing this book, I feel like I now know LESS about him than I did before.Shenk has done a remarkable and thorough job poring over vast collections of papers, letters, correspondence and previously published works in regard to a Lincoln we rarely see The young Lincoln passionate, somewhat volatile, and full of wicked wit and humor, but equally prone to dark moods The resigned Lincoln who, in his mid to late 20 s after suffering through a myriad of personal griefs and tragedies went through what could be called his first bout of serious depression.In addition, this served as a great explanation in the contrast between how society and medicine now vs then perceived melancholy depression.There s far too much here to sum up succinctly and well in a review, so I can only encourage those who are either interested inon Lincoln s personal character or interested in the realm of depression as a whole to please read this incredibly well written and documented book.As far as how Lincoln s melancholy fueled his greatness, one paragraph stood out to me as a prime explanation When a depressed person does get out of bed, it s usually not with a sudden insight that life is rich and valuable, but out of some creeping sense of duty or instinct for survival If collapsing is sometimes vital, so is the brute force of will To William James we owe the insight that, in the absence of real health, we sometimes must act as ifwe are healthy Buoyed by such discipline and habit, we might achieve actual well being As Lincoln advised a grumbling general who felt humiliated at having only three thousand men under his command, Act well your part, there all the honor lies He who does somethingat the head of one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred


  8. Eric Schmidt Eric Schmidt says:

    Had my full attention from the prologue, which recounts Tolstoy s infatuation with Lincoln Bottom line this is a book that is carefully researched rarely overreaches and makes a compelling case that Lincoln s life was punctuated by a depression so severe and defining that we might as well call it a relapsing and incurable illness I appreciate Shenk s absolute refusal to color inside the lines of contemporary psychology or psychiatry an underlying point here barely disguised is that while Had my full attention from the prologue, which recounts Tolstoy s infatuation with Lincoln Bottom line this is a book that is carefully researched rarely overreaches and makes a compelling case that Lincoln s life was punctuated by a depression so severe and defining that we might as well call it a relapsing and incurable illness I appreciate Shenk s absolute refusal to color inside the lines of contemporary psychology or psychiatry an underlying point here barely disguised is that while depression is real and deadly, Lincoln muddled through largely because he lived in a world where men could be vulnerable without necessarily exposing themselves to career ending suspicions And because he had the presence of mind to see that there were farimportant things at hand besides feeling better immediately Wasn t at all the same for women, of course Shenk plays fair with the abysmal treatment of Mary Lincoln, who he refuses to call Mary Todd for the simple reason that her contemporaries never called her that Closest thing possible to giving a voice to someone that is and was essentially voiceless But to the broader point on Lincoln s own ability to harness the doldrums and hell of melancholy, Shenk is pretty clear that our contemporary paradigm for thinking about depression is about as imperfect as 1850s era America and perhaps a fair bit worse I m interested enough in this subject matter that I m probably overlooking some stylistic decisions and omissions I d like to learnabout from other Lincoln biographers Whatever One final point Shenk s work is needed at this moment precisely because well meaning knock on wood professionals have taken it upon themselves to diagnose the current Oval Office occupant from afar see Bandy X Lee, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, and the Duty to Warn conference at Yale Popular interest in Trump s mental state dodges the question of his dangerous politics perpetuates the myth that mental illness makes one inherently unable to serve in elected office and applies to Trump exactly the same sensibilities that would preclude atranscendent and inspiring mentally ill candidate from seeking office The solution to Donald Trump isn t to diagnose him It s to impeach him if possible to reconfigure institutions of presidential selection to ensure similar candidates are not selected in the future and any number of other things Maybe the solution is to elect another Lincoln even who I m now absolutely convinced had the presence of mind, precisely because he was so somber, to have called the present bullshit exactly what it is


  9. John John says:

    I will note at the beginning that I am very glad that someone has written a book that treats this subject as thoroughly as Shenk has treated it It seems likely that Shenk has established depression as an element of Lincoln s biography that the industry can no longer ignore I think also that the subject can be treated mucheffectively than Shenk has managed.Allow me to offer two personal disclosures pd s at this point First, I have not ventured into the domain of Lincoln biography apart I will note at the beginning that I am very glad that someone has written a book that treats this subject as thoroughly as Shenk has treated it It seems likely that Shenk has established depression as an element of Lincoln s biography that the industry can no longer ignore I think also that the subject can be treated mucheffectively than Shenk has managed.Allow me to offer two personal disclosures pd s at this point First, I have not ventured into the domain of Lincoln biography apart from a handful of titles that have been awarded Pulitzers or Lincoln awards My reason is quite simply that I don t find politicians particularly interesting human beings, for the most part, remarkable only for their vapidity, and I don t care to spend much time in their company Exceptions obvious to anyone who follows my reviews Stalin, Hitler, Lyndon Johnson and George Wallace I can give no reasons for these exceptions Second, my perspective on Shenk s material derives from long decades long personal experience of severe, recurring major depression without psychotic features , followed by much less virulent forms, which now, after sixty years of depressive episodes, at my advanced age, rather annoy from time to time but do no harm I am not a clinician I will say, however, that I found the subject rather compelling at one point in my life But no longer.I have often compared acute depressive episodes to bouts of one stomach virus or another Obviously the duration is shorter Nonetheless, both diseases are overwhelming, and one is utterly powerless to prevent or delay their onset They come and they go, and then one feels crappy, groggy, weakened Then what In my case, I was married, had two wonderful little daughters, who are still wonderful, by the way, a house, a mortgage, car loans the whole catastrophe, as Zorba would say I had to recover under a burden of fatigue and numb indifference and no despair, whatever , the like of which I have never experienced at any other time But I did doing the next thing on the list, knowing full well that it mattered not one whit, whether I wanted to or not Imagine shopping for groceries with a seemingly endless list in hand for months My sense is that Shenk doesn t really understand the course of major depression, especially severe, recurring major depression I wish I could recall the DSM identifier He describes stages in Lincoln s experience of depression over his life, but he does not convey the insight that depression of each type, whether major or chronic whatever that may mean in each stage of life also involves a disease course, a cycle with a beginning, middle and end For example, he describes certain episodes of acute depression during the first stage of Lincoln s experience of the disease in early adulthood, and I have no doubt whatever that these episodes actually occurred exactly as Shenk has described them But I also suspect that his descriptions are incomplete Certainly his narratives include accounts of the precursors and most excruciatingly painful and dramatic hours or days of these episodes What he doesn t describe and seems not to understand is that these days and hours are but segments of a cycle that can consume months He focuses on the beginning and middle and leaves out the end altogether, i.e the recovery from these early episodes And it s exactly this phase of recovery, which can take months and months, that is quite frankly the most difficult for me at least I presume, although Shenk doesn t tell us, that Lincoln had to earn a living throughout He had to put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, every day without ever knowing when exactly the hangover as I call it would end So what did Lincoln actually do during the leaden months of recovery How did he cope That s what I want to know I also wish that Shenk had developed a coherent clinical perspective understanding on the disease and inserted that perspective into his book as sub text, using it to form his account Pick one, any one His quotes from one psychologist or psychiatrist or another every few pages didn t establish credentials or credibility in my mind at least He quotes William James and Victor Franklfrequently than other authorities, without establishing why exactly it is that I should consider this hodgepodge of texts 60 to 100 years old authoritative, quite as if their authority is self evident and for all time I would much rather have read a clinically comprehensive, complete account of Lincoln s experience of depression and intervals between episodes, if he ever experienced relief that is informed by a medical perspective that Shenk found convincing He might well have explained it all in footnotes or in a technical appendix all of which I would have read eagerly I ve recorded similar comments in Capper s biography of Margaret Fuller.I won t carry on much further, but I really can t resist commenting upon Shenk s explicit comparisons of Lincoln with Jesus, Buddha, St Francis of Assisi Perhaps such comparisons are entirely merited I can t say I can only remark that I read this book to learn of Lincoln s experience of depression Expressions of worshipful adoration even during the Christmas season do not advance my understanding of the man and his experience, and I do believe still that Lincoln was fully human Another pd I was raised in the Southern Presbyterian Church so we held very low opinions of idols, graven images, popes, priests, Billy Graham, and other assorted self appointed and extraordinarily wealthy messiahs and intermediaries unless, of course, one were concerned with certain passages in the Westminster Confession of Faith 1643, of course and no other edition regarding the sainthood of all believers I ve not yet recovered from that experience The content of this rant, notwithstanding, I am grateful to Shenk for giving us this book I look forward to the book that supersedes it


  10. Sherri Person Sherri Person says:

    Okay, where should I begin with this book Yikes, and yowzers I m simply mad about Lincoln, like stalker kind of mad After reading this book, had Lincoln been alive, he would most definitely have to hide from me, because I just fell in love with him evenKeep in mind I read this about three years ago, so I m a bit rusty with details, but what I remember most about this great read is the display of Lincoln s character WolfShenk wrote about Lincoln being a common man, and he was Lincoln Okay, where should I begin with this book Yikes, and yowzers I m simply mad about Lincoln, like stalker kind of mad After reading this book, had Lincoln been alive, he would most definitely have to hide from me, because I just fell in love with him evenKeep in mind I read this about three years ago, so I m a bit rusty with details, but what I remember most about this great read is the display of Lincoln s character WolfShenk wrote about Lincoln being a common man, and he was Lincoln was a man who utterly despised the ill treatment of slaves, and loathed the existence of slavery He was a man who dared to go against the majority, expose crimes against our fellow human beings, and suffer ridicule and persecution from the public so that he could earnestly strive toward a better future for America What I love most about Lincoln is that he was self aware Lincoln was not afraid to admit his love for YHWH, and after his admittance, was quite quick to tell anyone interested, that he didn t feel it necessary to attend church all the time, if even at all Lincoln was also deeply aware that he was a flawed man and relied heavily on his faith to keep him from stumbling Lincoln cried openly in public forums, agonized over tough political decisions, and wasn t ashamed to walk among the common men and women of America Overall, I recommend this book to lovers of Lincoln, and I even recommend it to those that don t really know anything about the man I think this book is the best representation of Lincoln as the man he was, and the legacy he left America, then any other work on Lincoln I have ever read