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The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Phillip Shaw Paludan

408 pages, 6 x 9
American Presidency Series

Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-0745-7, $15.95


Book Cover ImageAbraham Lincoln's life and work have inspired more books than any other historical figure except Jesus and Shakespeare and attracted some of America's most renowned writers. But few know him as well as Phillip Paludan, one of our nation's foremost authorities on Lincoln and the Civil War.

In this long-awaited study, Paludan offers us Lincoln in whole-a complex, even contradictory personality who found greatness without seeking it and who felt deeply troubled about what he perceived as his failings as a president and person.

Opinion has been divided about the real Lincoln. A conservative. A liberal. The great emancipator. A Union preservationist at all cost. But Paludan's Lincoln is both a constitutionalist and a liberal egalitarian who ultimately saw his efforts to preserve the Union and free the slaves as inseparably linked.

Lincoln, Paludan contends, proved himself a truly great leader in a highly combustible situation. True, he was no saint and could rule with political expediency and a heavy hand. But no other president faced such awesome challenges, and none showed better how the nation could meet them and move toward "a more perfect union."

Filled with new insights and fresh interpretations, Paludan's study presents a genuinely new and compelling portrait of a president and nation at war. It will change the way we look at such things as Lincoln's evolving reconstruction plans, his civil liberties restrictions, and his handling of foreign affairs and enlarge our understanding of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural, which linked the president's personal feelings with the needs of the nation. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Lincoln, the presidency, and the Civil War.

"A genuinely new portrait of Lincoln on the job as chief executive. Thought-provoking and engrossing, this is one of the best and most authoritative books yet on the Lincoln presidency."--Book-of-the-Month-Club News

"Readers wanting a relatively brief, clearly written, carefully argued review of Lincoln's presidency will not find a better source than this volume."--Times Literary Supplement

"A judicious, erudite study."--New York Review of Books

"A superb analysis. Paludan's deft narrative covers the full sweep of Northern wartime politics. His characterizations are succinct and oftentimes unforgettable. This extremely well-written volume is a tribute not to a demigod but to a man."--Richmond Times-Dispatch

"This book puts Abraham Lincoln back on the map of serious American historical inquiry. It raises and answers the enduring questions of the Lincoln presidency that have gone begging for a whole generation. Original, accurate, and fair-minded, it will inform any reader, no matter how expert in Lincolniana." --Mark E. Neely, Jr., author of The Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America

"In this superb history of Lincoln's presidency, Paludan has skillfully blended an engrossing narrative, incisive analysis, and inspiring commentary. A powerful and thought-provoking book that will engage scholars and general readers alike."--Drew R. McCoy, author of The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy

"The most comprehensive modern treatment of that crucial period in American history. An indispensable book for any serious student of the American Civil War."--David Herbert Donald, author of Lincoln Reconsidered

"A fresh account of a time when the American presidency briefly became an instrument for realizing the highest promise of the republic."--Andrew Delbanco, editor of The Portable Abraham Lincoln

"The reader will come away with a new appreciation and deeper understanding of Lincoln's leadership during America's greatest crisis."--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

PHILLIP SHAW PALUDAN, professor of history at the University of Kansas, is one of the nation's foremost authorities on Lincoln and the Civil War, and author of A People's Contest: The Union and Civil War, 1861-1865; Victims: A True Story of the Civil War; and A Covenant with Death: The Constitution, Law, and Equality in the Civil War Era.

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