Books

The 25 best books about Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire

At least 15,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. If you wish to learn about the man who led the North during the American Civil War and issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 then you are not going to be restricted by choice. (AbeBooks alone has more than 67,000 copies of books with ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in the title).

No-one knows exactly how many books have been written about Honest Abe but in 2012 Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington DC constructed a 34-foot pillar of unique titles about Lincoln and it contained more than 15,000 books.

Books have been written about his childhood, his politics, his wartime leadership, his married life, his death, his speeches, his generals and admirals, his writing, his mental health and his legal career. There are biographies, history books, picture books, children’s books and fictional novels based on his life.

In recent years, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin has received a great deal of attention. In 2008, the then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama declared, if elected, he would want “a team of rivals” in his Cabinet. “I don’t want to have people who just agree with me. I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone,” he told Time Magazine. Obama, a keen reader, acknowledged the influence of Goodwin's book several times as he campaigned to become president.

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, published in 1996, is also widely acknowledged as one of the better biographies of the man. Manhunt by James L. Swanson is a very readable book about the murder of the president, the motives of his killer John Wilkes Booth and the desperate manhunt over 12 days.

If you want to completely shake up history, then Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith might appeal (and that’s fiction by the way). Gore Vidal also wrote a historical novel about the man.

The best books about Abraham Lincoln

By Russell Freedman
By Carl Sandburg
By David Herbert Donald
By Lord Charnwood
By CA Tripp & Lewis Gannett
By T Harry Williams
By Craig L. Symonds
By Thomas Keneally

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