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Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America Book Review

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Many historic figures prolong their legacy or importance through books, memorials, or museums. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most prestigious and important people in U.S history and for someone with a great amount of recognition, a biography is usually written about them.There are multiple different biographies out there highlighting Lincoln’s life, accomplishments etc. However, I believe that it is the best biography over the 16th president and not only does William E. Gienapp explain about Lincoln, he also includes deep information on the civil war occuring during his presidency.

William E. Gienapp was a distinguished author, Harvard University professor, and a widely known historian. He was born on February 27, 1944 in Texas and both of his parents were involved in the educational field. William spent the majority of his childhood outside of Des Moines, Iowa and then when he became a teenager, his family moved to California. He is most definitely qualified to write over this time period and Abraham Lincoln’s life. The reason I say this is because he has spent his whole life studying/embracing history and was a professor at one of the best universities in the U.S. Usually with biographies, the author tries to highlight them in a bias sense because the book is about that person. There are no apparent biases I could find because there are few sources. However in the book, he doesn’t glorify anyone in particular when it comes to a dispute in history, etc.

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After reading through the book, I realized that there are very few inaccuracies- which explains the biography’s high praise in the history community. However, I will list small inaccuracies that are somewhat impactful when it comes to the true history of the time period. For example, the book gives a description of what happened after the polls on election day and states that after Lincoln walks outside the Illinois State Journal- he can hear the Republicans signing a significant song to do with their party. “As he walked home to tell his wife the news, jubilant republicans back at the courthouse square were singing one of the most popular songs of the concluded campaign.” (Page 71 Line 26). The song talked about is “Ain’t you glad you joined the republicans” and was involved in campaigns during that time. After scouting through other sources of information, there is no proof that a group of republicans were signing this song at that exact time period and may have just been put in off of other people’s stories.

This biography was very accurate when it came to explaining each time period/event and everything that concerned Lincoln in general. I feel like it covered the subject of Civil War America better than Lincoln because it lists off specific dates, detailed descriptions of the battles, and explanations of the internal/external conflict. For Example, this is one of the detailed parts: “Lincoln finally issued General War Order One on January 27, 1862, an utterly impractical directive which ordered all Union armies to advance on or before February 22.” (Page 102 Line 25). In my opinion, Gienapp does a great job at piecing the two subjects together to really emphasize Lincoln’s perspective on what currently was going on and his campaign/presidency.

My mindset going into reading this biography was that it was going to be really boring and I would have to push myself to finish it. However, I really enjoyed it and I think I have a new found curiosity for history. Everyone should read this biography to get a better grasp on what happened back then and now I see why this book has received so much praise. The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln are significant subjects that everyone should be educated about because it talks about our nation’s history and how we got to where we are today.

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Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America Book Review. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America Book Review.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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