[This review from the Monitor's archives originally ran on Feb. 9, 2009.] This month marks the 200th anniversary of our greatest president’s birth. So it is perhaps inevitable that another flood of Lincoln biographies is upon us.
Some 60 titles have been released in the past few months alone, estimates Lincoln biographer James Swanson. At this point one could trace the route from Gettysburg to Vicksburg with Lincoln tomes stacked end to end – and still have enough left over for a cross-country March to the Sea in honor of General Sherman.
The world may not long remember what Lincoln’s biographers say here in the 21st century, but it is safe to conclude that Americans will never forget what the 16th president achieved. And, if there are memorable accounts of Lincoln’s life in the latest deluge, A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr. should be noted among them.
White (author of both “The Eloquent President” and “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech”) writes popular history in the best sense. Like Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, he delivers prose that is lively, informative, and, most of all, accessible. In “A. Lincoln” he sustains throughout a narrative that is as swift as it is thorough.