There are about 15,000 books on Abraham Lincoln -- here are the 6 you should read

Abraham lincoln grantWikimedia CommonsThe Peacemakers

In less than two centuries, about 15,000 books have been written on Abraham Lincoln and his presidency.

Trying to weed through the options in order to figure out which ones are actually worth reading is a pretty daunting task.

In honour of Lincoln’s birthday on Wednesday, we’ve put together a list of six great books about the 16th president of the US — each dealing with a different facet of his presidency.

Whether you’re looking for the overall story, an analysis of his political career, or even something on the Gettysburg address, we’ve got it here.

1. “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald

Why you want to read it:

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Herbert Donald tells the story of Lincoln’s ascent from rural Kentucky to his presidency during the Civil War.

This one’s a great option for anyone who wants an easy, flowing account of one of the most complex presidencies.

Book: $US15.02

Kindle: $US14.99

2. “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Why you want to read it:

Doris Kearns Goodwin examines Lincoln’s political genius through a multi-biography of him and his team of personal and political competitors.

She outlines how he brought together disgruntled opponents and harnessed their talents to keep the Union together.

Book: $US14.28

Kindle: $US11.99

3. “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era” by James M. McPherson

Why you want to read it:

This book focuses on the Civil War, not just on Lincoln. But arguably, it’s impossible to understand one without the other.

“Likely to become the standard one-volume history of our Civil War, this [book] vivifies, with palpable immediacy, scholarly acumen and interpretive skill, events foreshadowing the conflict, the war itself and its basic issue: slavery,” writes Publishers Weekly.

Book: $US13.10

Kindle: $US9.99

4. “Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade American” by Garry Willis

Why you want to read it:

The book examines Lincoln’s Gettysburg address in the context of its historical and cultural frame.

“Garry Wills has given our nation’s greatest gathering of words . . . new urgency . . . demonstrating that Lincoln’s words still have power,” wrote The New York Times’ William McFeely.

Book: $US13.04

Kindle: $US11.99

5. “Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History” by Richard Wightman Fox

Why you want to read it:

“In his sweeping discussion of Lincoln’s physical body (how people viewed it during his lifetime or interpreted it after his death), Richard Wightman Fox deftly traces the high-stakes cultural battle — waged in poetry, prose, art, and film — over the meaning of Lincoln, man and myth, from his day to our own,” writes Brenda Wineapple.

Book: $US21.11

Kindle: $US14.16


6. “Lincoln: A Novel” by Gore Vidal

Why you want to read it:

Technically, this one’s a work of historical fiction, so we’re labelling this as a bonus. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible work that’s worth the read.

“Superb . . . a grand entertainment. . . . A plausible and human Lincoln, of us and yet beyond us,” wrote Yale professor Harold Bloom.

Book: $US14.32

Kindle: $US11.84

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