Paul M. Zall

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Though Abraham Lincoln has been the subject of numerous biographies, his personality remains an enigma. During his lifetime, Lincoln prepared two sketches of his life for the 1860 presidential race. These brief campaign portraits serve as the core around which Paul Zall weaves extracts from correspondence, speeches, and interviews to produce an in-depth biography. Lincoln's writing about himself offers a window into the soul and mind of one of America's greatest president. His words reveal an emotional evolution typically submerged in political biographies. Lincoln on Lincoln shows a man struggling to reconcile personal ambition and civic virtue, conscience and Constitution, and ultimately the will of God and the will of the people. Zall frames Lincoln's words with his own illuminating commentary, providing a continuous, compelling narrative. Beginning with Lincoln's thoughts on his parents, the story moves though his youth and early successes and failures in law and politics, and culminates in his clashes and conflicts--internal as well as external--as president of a divided country. Through his writings, Lincoln said much more about himself than is commonly recognized, and Zall uses this material to create a unique portrait of this pivotal figure.

It is both a surprise and a pleasure to have this new collection, offered as the next-best-thing to a genuine autobiography, expertly pieced together from Lincoln’s known speeches and letters to simulate the narrative flow of a life story. -- Blue & Gray Magazine

An artful biography of Lincoln . . . spliced together from interview, memoir, and speech excerpts, but always in the slain president’s own words. -- Civil War Book Review

All the wisdom and insight that we have come to value in the man who presides over the temple at the west end of the Capital Mall. -- Civil War Courier

Adds to our understanding of Abraham Lincoln by demonstrating how consistent he was in his self-image and self-description. -- Civil War History

It is fun to have Lincoln’s personal musings on Lincoln gathered so neatly into one place. -- Civil War News

The autobiography Lincoln never had the chance to write. The way in which Zall has blended together various sources is very clever. -- James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

We do learn to share the young Lincoln's excitement when he earns his first dollar; we cringe as he consents to sew shut the eyes of some intransigent hogs; we laugh at some of the doggerel he composes about his rural background. . . . A collection that casts a strong light. -- Kirkus Reviews

Zall's Lincoln 'autobiography' gives a strong sense of Lincoln's personal style, practical idealism, and poetic wordsmanship. -- Library Journal

A handsome book. -- Lincoln Herald

Handily provides interested readers with autobiographical gleanings from the vast corpus of Lincolniana. -- North Carolina Historical Review

The book is accurate, even meticulous in its selections. There is nothing unreliable. -- South Carolina Historical Magazine

An absorbing trip into the mind of America’s greatest president. -- Southern Historian

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Abraham Lincoln, United States, Presidents


United States History

Lincoln on Lincoln
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