Your Lincoln Summer Reading List

By President Lincoln’s Cottage Staff

It’s the Lincoln bicentennial year and new books about Lincoln are published every month. How do you decide what books to read? President Lincoln’s Cottage staff stay abreast of new publications on Lincoln to make sure we have a great selection available in the Museum Store. Of course we don’t spend all of our time reading Lincoln books, and we tend to be very selective.  What new books have made it onto our lists and onto our Store’s shelves?

What we’ve recently read that we think you’ll enjoy, too:

Did Lincoln Own Slaves: And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln, Gerald J. Prokopowicz, (Pantheon, 2008).

Prokopowicz ‘s goal is to remove the artificial barriers that sometimes divide academic historians from public historians and from the public itself. Did Lincoln Own Slaves is organized into twelve subject chapters such as ‘Politician” and “Legacy” and is a compilation of dozens of questions about Lincoln amassed during his career. In a recent telephone conversation he told me that he wrote the book with a President Lincoln’s Cottage audience in mind: that is people with a some knowledge of Lincoln wanting to learn more and have a good time doing it. This book delivers that in spades. It is highly informative, well researched and replete with Prokopowicz’s unique sense of humor. You will find yourself laughing out loud and learning incredible facts about our 16th President while doing it, and it doesn’t get much better than that!  This is a ‘no miss” summer read.  
-Frank Milligan, Director

Note: Prokopowicz will be our January 2010 Cottage Conversations guest speaker. Mark your calendars for January 21.

*Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, Catherine Clinton (Harper Collins, 2009)

Whether you love Mary Lincoln or just love to hate her, you’ll enjoy reading Mrs. Lincoln. Clinton does a masterful job of presenting and analyzing research in this balanced presentation of one of the most controversial first ladies of all time.  Mary Lincoln is portrayed as ambitious, tormented, flawed, and complex.  Clinton neither apologizes for Mary Lincoln’s behavior nor condemns her for it.   This is a great book to read with a friend or your book club, because you will want to discuss it with everyone!  
Erin Mast, Curator

Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America by Andrew Ferguson (Grove Press, 2008)

A hilarious and eye-opening look at the ways in which Abraham Lincoln is revered and reviled in today’s America. Both a travelogue and a memoir, Ferguson explores the world of Lincoln sites, collectors, presenters and “Abephobes” dragging his reluctant family along for a journey to find the Abraham Lincoln he knew as a boy.
-George Rogers, Director of Development

Abraham Lincoln by James McPherson (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson’s succinct biography (70+ pages) is a good choice for those who want to dip a toe into the ocean of Lincoln scholarship. McPherson’s intent is to capture “the essential events and meaning of Lincoln’s life without oversimplification or overgeneralization” and in this he succeeds admirably.
-George Rogers, Director of Development

Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries, Daniel Epstein (Harper Collins, 2009)

As I’ve been anxious to learn more about Lincoln, the man, from those who knew him well, I recently read both David Herbert Donald’s We Are Lincoln Men (2004) and Daniel Epstein’s Lincoln Men.  The volumes complement one another well. Both provide great insight into Lincoln’s work ethic and habits, his integrity and moral compass, his kindness and deep compassion as well as his iron will and tenacity, and his relationships with both close associates and subordinates. Fascinating and enlightening reading!
-Leslie Bouterie, Private & Corporate Events manager

*Copies signed by the author are currently (6/29/2009) available for purchase in the Museum Store.  All titles listed here are available for purchase in the Museum Store.  Call 202-829-0436 x 31231 to inquire about availability. 

Check back soon for these President Lincoln’s Cottage Book Lists:

  • Children’s Lincoln Reading List
  • Our Visitors’ Top 10 Lincoln Reading List
  • Lincoln’s Own Summer Reading List
  • Staff All Time Favorites Lincoln Reading List
  • And more!

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