Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Mar 30, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
Abraham Lincoln's remarkable emergence from the rural Midwest and his rise to the presidency have been the stuff of romance and legend. But as Douglas L. Wilson shows us in Honor's Voice, Lincoln's transformation was not one long triumphal march, but a process that was more than once seriously derailed. There were times, in his journey from storekeeper and mill operator to lawyer and member of the Illinois state legislature, when Lincoln lost his nerve and self-confidence - on at least two occasions he became so despondent as to appear suicidal - and when his acute emotional vulnerabilities were exposed.

Focusing on the crucial years between 1831 and 1842, Wilson's skillful analysis of the testimonies and writings of Lincoln's contemporaries reveals the individual behind the legends. We see Lincoln as a boy: not the dutiful son studying by firelight, but the stubborn rebel determined to make something of himself. We see him as a young man: not the ascendant statesman, but the canny local politician who was renowned for his talents in wrestling and storytelling (as well as for his extensive store of off-color jokes). Wilson also reconstructs Lincoln's frequently anguished personal life: his religious skepticism, recurrent bouts of depression, and difficult relationships with women - from Ann Rutledge to Mary Owens to Mary Todd.

Meticulously researched and well written, this is a fascinating book that makes us reexamine our ideas about one of the icons of American history.

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The author seeks to trace the roots of Lincoln's character and perhaps the sources of his later policies by examining the events of his early adulthood through the recollections of contemporaries ... Read full review

HONOR'S VOICE: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln

User Review  - Kirkus

In a 1932 essay, James Thurber imagined a librarian of Congress, overwhelmed by pointless biographies of Civil Warera figures, imposing fines for new books about Lincoln. Wilson (director ... Read full review


One Wrestling with the Evidence
Three Finding a Vocation
Five Breaking into Politics
Swen Campaign and Courtship
Eight The Mary Todd Embrigglement
Nine Honor
Ten Transitions and Transformation

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About the author (2011)

Douglas L. Wilson is Saunders Director of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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