A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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The author of the best-selling The Gates of the Alamo now gives us a galvanizing portrait of Abraham Lincoln during a crucially revealing period of his life, the early Springfield years, when he risked both his sanity and his ethical bearings as he searched for the great destiny he believed to be his.

It is Illinois in the 1830s and 1840s. Abraham Lincoln is a circuit-riding lawyer, a member of the state legislature, a man of almost ungovernable ambition. To his friends he is also a beloved figure, by turns charmingly awkward and mesmerizingly self-possessed--a man of whom they, too, expect big things. Among his friends and political colleagues are Joshua Speed, William Herndon, Stephen Douglas, and many others who have come to the exploding frontier town of Springfield to find their futures.

It is through another friend, a fictional poet, Cage Weatherby, that we will come to know Lincoln in his twenties and thirties, as a series of formative, surprising incidents unfolds--his service in the Black Hawk War, his participation in a poetry-writing society, a challenge to a duel that begins as a farce but quickly rises to lethal potential . . . Cage both admires and clashes with Lincoln, sometimes questioning his legal ethics and his cautious stance on slavery. But he is by Lincoln's side as Lincoln slips back and forth between high spirits and soul-hollowing sadness and depression, and as he recovers from a disastrous courtship of one woman to marry the beautiful, capricious, politically savvy Mary Todd. It is Mary who will bring stability to Lincoln's life, but who will also trigger a conflict that sends the two men on very different paths into the future.

Historically accurate, rich in character, filled with the juice and dreams and raw ambitions of Americans on the make in an early frontier city, A Friend of Mr. Lincoln is a revelatory and moving portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in his young manhood. It is a close-up, involving experience, the sort of vibrant glimpse beneath the veneer of history that only the very best fiction can provide.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780307700674
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 415 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 07, 2016

I loved this book. It is a look into Lincoln’s life while he was still a lawyer in Illinois, and courted Mary Todd. He accomplishes what good historical fiction does better than non-fiction. He makes people come alive. His marriage to Todd seems based more on keeping his word than love and he regretted this union from before the marriage. Bright, comedic and yet prone to depression, Lincoln is shown to have many different facets to his personality.

Edward J Crowell
Mar 29, 2016

I'm a fan of Stephen Harrigan and his writing style is engaging and easy to read. I wanted to learn more about Lincoln and this book follows his early years as a lawyer before he was elected to Congress. But the story's main character, a fictional poet, was not so interesting as the friend of Lincoln. The future president faded into the background as a somewhat unlikable though principled fellow. Ed

Mar 07, 2016

While the friendship in this book is imaginary, the author well captures the spirit of Abraham Lincoln in his formative days as a lawyer and Illinois state politician. Of note are the beginnings of his rivalry with Stephen Douglas, who he famously faced off against in the 1858 Senate election.


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