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Lincoln

Narrated by: Dick Estell
Length: 30 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Summary

In the best-selling tradition of Truman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Herbert Donald offers a new classic in American history and biography - a masterly account of how one man's extraordinary political acumen steered the Union to victory in the Civil War, and of how his soaring rhetoric gave meaning to that agonizing struggle for nationhood and equality.

Donald spent 50 years studying Lincoln, tracing his rise from humble origins to the pinnacle of the presidency. He reveals the development of the future president's character and shows how Lincoln's enormous capacity for growth enabled one of the least experienced men ever elected to high office to become a giant in the annals of American politics. And he depicts a man who was basically passive by nature, yet ambitious enough to take enormous risks and overcome repeated defeats.

Much more than a political biography, Lincoln seats us behind the desk of a president who was both a master of ambiguity and expediency and a great moral leader, as he makes the decisions that preserved the Union and shaped modern America.

©2011 David Herbert Donald (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

Critic reviews

"A grand work - the Lincoln biography for this generation." (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
" Lincoln immediately takes its place among the best of the genre, and it is unlikely that it will be surpassed in elegance, incisiveness and originality in this century.... A book of investigative tenacity, interpretive boldness and almost acrobatic balance." ( Chicago Tribune)
"Eagerly awaited, Lincoln fulfills expectations. Donald writes with lucidity and elegance." ( The Atlantic)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A very thorough biography

It is obvious that a lot of serious research has gone into writing this biography, and I have enjoyed getting innumerable little unexpected insights into the person behind the statesman.



The thoroughness, however, also means that the biography contains rather long stretches of information that I did not find interesting or to be contributing much to my understanding of the character of Lincoln.



The parts that I found most interesting concerned his upright moral character, insisting on reimbursing other people's loss without any legal obligation to do so - and then fulfilling his pledge at considerable personal and financial cost. Also, the way he learned from numerous mistakes when trying to conduct the war, often being rather too patient with generals of questionable will or ability to act, is compelling "reading".



Finally, his sense of loyalty to subordinates who tried to carry out his instructions (rather than orders) impressed me - even when they failed dismally. All paint the picture of a man of unusual integrity, of unsurpassed desire to learn from his mistakes, and of a selfless gentleness that should be challenge to every one of us.



The narrator's voice changes considerably (is it the same narrator or were parts recorded in a different studio later on?) in a few places, which I have not noticed in any other audio books. Not a problem, just different!



I do recommend this book, but intricate details of party organisation and hordes of less-than-central politicians could have been omitted, in my opinion.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Worthy but dull

Oh dear, I have tried listening to this several times but the narrator has a really monotonous voice. How the author made such an interesting character as Lincoln this dull I don't know. I tend to play it when I can't sleep and before I know it.......zzzzzz.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Sensational story of a great man

Truly brilliant way to spend 30 hours! Incredible story of one one of the greatest leaders ever.

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  • Dr Zube
  • Ross on Wye, United Kingdom
  • 24-04-14

Long but very extensive and amazingly inspiring

The definitive work on Lincoln, from birth to assassination, truly inspiring and moving account of the man who much surely be the best president america has ever had. The only downside to the book is the narration is a little dull, and it is a bit obvious where the breaks and edits where. Well worth a listen if you have the time (very long!).

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jason
  • NEWARK, United Kingdom
  • 20-05-13

David Herberts Lincoln

I really enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it to anyone.
Even though it is a very long audiobook it keeps you engaged and interested and Lincoln's life story is so completely amazing and inspiring you will be totally addicted to this audiobook I was, I even listened to it again one month later.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 07-04-13

The world of Abraham Lincoln opens up beautifully

The day after seeing 'Lincoln' in the cinema, I bought this audio book. It is superb. An extremely thorough biography from Abraham Lincoln's early life through to his assassination... in a very enjoyable and easy 30 hours. The author spent decades researching his subject and it shows in the detail. It's also clear that he left out a lot of extraneous information, so it is never boring. I thoroughly recommend this insight into one of the great men of the modern world.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Vicente
  • 14-11-13

The narration almost stopped me.

I have to say that the bland narration from the beginning left me wanting to stop. The only reason why I continued was because of the content of the book.
Not only was the narrator bland but at times there were cut ins and these short clips were worse than the original narrator. Although I did get used to the narrator maybe it was because of the book.
The book itself was good. This book left me wanting to know more about the civil war. Also, this book didn't make Lincoln in to a larger than life figure but human with errors.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 18-12-12

Dry and Technical but Excellent

This is, at times, a dry and technical read and at other times becomes touching or funny. Overall I was very satisfied. This biography of Lincoln seems to be quite unbiased and follows the facts wherever they lead. The author tries to present a history based upon what Lincoln actually knew at the time, leaving out facts that we now know, but Lincoln had no way of knowing. This book has a lot of peripheral information that places other historical facts in context (for example how big Lincoln’s house was compared with the average in the area). This history presents Lincoln as a hero, but as an imperfect, ambiguous, and human hero. Although this was a bit of a less fun read then Team of Rivals, overall I found this the more satisfying history.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Doug
  • 19-03-13

Great book with outstanding details of background

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a more indepth presentation of the history of Lincoln's time and the context of that time. I finished "Team of Rivals" prior to this book and found the greater extent of "Lincoln" to round out my understanding of the historical context for what caused the actions to play out as they did.

What other book might you compare Lincoln to and why?

I think it is very complementary to "Team of Rivals" and the book I am reading now "Battle Cry of Freedom". I think "Team of Rivals" was more of "story" whereas "Lincoln" offers a more comprehensive insight beyond the personalities of the Administration.

What aspect of Dick Estell’s performance would you have changed?

There were times where the quality of the recording demonstrated post editing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

I don't think you could make this much of a detailed presentation into a film...it would require a historic documentary and might miss the strength of the work.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the book very much and appreciated the way in which the book was developed to provide the details it offered.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Carpe Diem
  • 19-07-19

Lincoln not honest when it comes to his fatith?

The author David Herbert Donald, while intending to rely solely on primary sources, takes every opportunity to editorialize that Lincoln was not a man of sincere faith but that Lincoln used his knowledge of faith to be accepted and to manipulate others. One example of this is the letter Lincoln wrote to his dying father about the after life when. The author interjects that Lincoln didn't believe this but was just mouthing the Baptist thinking of the day to bring comfort to his father and to appear in a good light to his neighbors. The irony is that the author points out Lincoln was known as a man who was honest to the smallest details of his life and yet implies Lincoln was dishonest in these words he wrote to a father about the beauty of the afterlife. This author is not objective when it comes to Lincoln's very private but sincere faith. Either that or Lincoln was not honest....in matters of biblical faith at least.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John Zajaros
  • 27-03-17

Lincoln's Presence Seems Even Greater Today

As many times as I have read (and listened to) books about our greatest president, I am still moved to wonder. While there are hitches in the recording and storytelling, this biography is balanced and well thought out. I recommend the work any form; it will be time well spent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ze'ev Yanay
  • 20-02-17

One of the best biographies you will ever read.

There is so much to learn from Lincoln. and this is the best bio to do so.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Adrian K. Dahlin
  • 26-06-19

Amazing book. Best presidential biography.

Detailed and engrossing. Audio editing is poor, but doesn't keep you from enjoying the story.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-06-19

A great enjoyable book about the life of Lincoln.

Well read and enjoyable the book made Lincoln to be a human with all the flaws of a human and not the myth that now surrounds the 16th president.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Angell
  • 20-05-19

I hesitate to leave a bad review

because this might just be the definitive work on Lincoln. However, while listening to this book, unless I was able to pay 100% intensely focused attention, I would miss a lot- maybe 50%, sometimes less and sometimes much more. This is not to say that it isn't my fault as great books are going to require more effort, but let me offer you this comparison: I am now reading (listening to) Team of Rivals and I haven't missed anything (unless I was obviously ignoring what I was listening to). The difference in understanding was that drastic. I don't know if it is the poor narration or the author's words, but if you were to want a book on Lincoln, I would start with Team of Rivals, not this one.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Leigh M.
  • 11-05-19

Good book, bad production

The narration was good, but sound quality and editing were very poor, too the point of being distracting.