Review of “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” by Michael Burlingame

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Abraham Lincoln: A Life ” is Michael Burlingame’s 2008 two-volume biography of our sixteenth president. Burlingame is the author or editor of over a dozen books on Abraham Lincoln. His mentor was renowned Lincoln scholar David Herbert Donald (who taught a Civil War course Burlingame took as a freshman at Princeton). He is currently a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

The scale and scope of Burlingame’s biography of Lincoln is breathtaking: at nearly 1,600 pages of text (plus 320 pages of notes) this magisterial work aspires to be the definitive Lincoln biography of our time. It is also the first comprehensive, multi-volume work on Lincoln in two-thirds of a century. But while the published two-volume series is substantial, its uncondensed (and far more heavily footnoted) version is twice the size – and free online.

This biography is obviously the result of time-consuming and painstaking research. Burlingame mined recently-released…

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