SUMMER CATALOGUE OUT NOW: VIEW

Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

Abe

Abraham Lincoln in His Times

David S. Reynolds

$95.95

Hardback

We can order this in for you
How long will it take?

QTY:

Penguin
29 September 2020
History; Social & cultural history; American Civil War
David S. Reynolds, author of the Bancroft-prize-winning cultural biography of Walt Whitman and many other iconic works of 19th century American history, understands the currents in which Abraham Lincoln swam as well as anyone alive. His magisterial biography Abe is the product of a breathtaking full-body immersion into the riotous tumult of American life in the decades before the Civil War.

It was a country growing up and being pulled apart at the same time, with a democratic popular culture that, reflecting the country's contradictions, oscillated between the sentimental and the grotesque. Lincoln's lineage was considered auspicious by Emerson, Whitman and others who prophesied that it would be a new man from the West who would emerge to balance North and South. From New England Puritan stock on his father's side and Virginia Cavalier gentry on his mother's, Lincoln was linked by blood to the central conflict of the age. An enduring theme of his life, Reynolds shows, was his genius for striking a balance between opposing forces.

Reynolds's Lincoln is not the self-raised child of legend; his father is much more influential and less of a flop than the legend has it. What Lincoln lacked in formal schooling he made up for in an unquenchable thirst for self-improvement; Reynolds leads us through the ad hoc course of study that stocked his mind, from childhood to his years as a lawyer. But there are many kinds of education, and Lincoln's talent for wrestling, tall tales, and bawdy jokes made him as popular with his peers as his appetite for poetry and Shakespeare and prodigious gifts for memorization set him apart from them.

No one can entirely transcend the limitations of their time, and Lincoln was no exception. But what emerges from Reynolds's masterful reckoning is a sense of a man who at each stage in his life managed to arrive at a broader view of things than all but his most enlightened peers. As a politician, he moved too slowly for some, and too swiftly for many more, but he always pushed hard toward justice while keeping the whole nation in mind. Abe culminates, of course, in the Civil War, the defining test of Lincoln and his beloved country. Reynolds shows us convincingly the extraordinary range of cultural artifacts Lincoln drew from as he shaped a vision of true union, transforming, in King's words, the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. Abraham Lincoln did not come out of nowhere. Never have his cultural influences been more sharply limned than by David S. Reynolds here. But if he was shaped by his times, he also managed at his life's fateful hour to shape them to an extent few could have foreseen. Ultimately, this is the great drama that astonishes us still, and that Abe brings to fresh and vivid life. The measure of that life, in all its democratic fullness, will always be part of our American education.
By:   David S. Reynolds
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United States
ISBN:   9781594206047
ISBN 10:   159420604X
Pages:   1088
Publication Date:   29 September 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

David S. Reynolds is a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Walt Whitman's America- A Cultural Biography, winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. His other books include Beneath the American Renaissance (winner of the Christian Gauss Award), John Brown, Abolitionist, and Mightier than the Sword- Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America. He is a regular book reviewer for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The Wall Street Journal.

Reviews for Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times

Abraham Lincoln is the central figure of the American story, a flawed but noble man who insisted against all odds that the national experiment in liberty must go on in spite of all. In this wonderful new biography, David Reynolds brings the giant to life once more, reminding us of the limitations and the possibilities of politics in a fallen world. --Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America David Reynolds' splendid biography is chock full of fresh information and insights about Lincoln that disprove the adage that nothing new can be said about this iconic American. Focusing on the cultural forces that shaped Lincoln and his contemporaries, Reynolds portrays the gathering storm of sectional conflict that erupted into a war over slavery and disunion in which Lincoln's commitment to freedom and racial justice was grounded in moral commitment as well as political and military exigencies. A work of literary distinction as well as sound scholarship, this biography will take its place as a classic in Lincoln studies. --James M. McPherson, author of Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief Before Lincoln became a man for all time, he was a man of his time. In this compelling, thought-provoking life of the Great Emancipator, David Reynolds reminds us that a prerequisite for leadership in a democracy is an ability to tap the zeitgeist and turn it to decisive effect, as Lincoln preeminently did. --H. W. Brands, University of Texas at Austin Abraham Lincoln's America unfolds in all the nation's hope, despair, and deliverance in this monumental book. Drawing on Reynolds's unequaled knowledge and humane understanding, Abe is a brilliant portrait of the man and of the country he saved. --Edward L. Ayers, winner of the Lincoln Prize David Reynolds has a deeper knowledge and keener understanding of American popular culture than any other historian of the Civil War era. After illuminating studies of Walt Whitman, John Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Reynolds now brings his vast erudition to bear on our sixteenth president. This is an Abraham Lincoln at once familiar and entirely new, a man who was very much the product of his own cultural moment. No one but Reynolds could have written a book this good. --James Oakes, author of Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States and The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Anislavery Politics


See Also