A Self-Made Man

The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln

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The first in a sweeping, multi-volume history of Abraham Lincoln—from his obscure beginnings to his presidency, death, and the overthrow of his post-Civil War plan of reconciliation—“engaging and informative and…thought-provoking” (The Christian Science Monitor).

From his youth as a voracious newspaper reader, Abraham Lincoln became a free thinker, reading Tom Paine, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible. In the “fascinating” (Booklist, starred review) A Self-Made Man, Sidney Blumenthal reveals how Lincoln’s antislavery thinking began in his childhood in backwoods Kentucky and Indiana. Intensely ambitious, he held political aspirations from his earliest years. Yet he was a socially awkward suitor who had a nervous breakdown over his inability to deal with the opposite sex. His marriage to the upper class Mary Todd was crucial to his social aspirations and his political career. “The Lincoln of Blumenthal’s pen is…a brave progressive facing racist assaults on his religion, ethnicity, and very legitimacy that echo the anti-Obama birther movement….Blumenthal takes the wily pol of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and goes deeper, finding a Vulcan logic and House of Cards ruthlessness” (The Washingtonian).

Based on prodigious research of Lincoln’s record, and of the period and its main players, Blumenthal’s robust biography reflects both Lincoln’s time and the struggle that consumes our own political debate. This first volume traces Lincoln from his birth in 1809 through his education in the political arts, rise to the Congress, and fall into the wilderness from which he emerged as the man we recognize as Abraham Lincoln. “Splendid…no one can come away from reading A Self-Made Man…without eagerly anticipating the ensuing volumes.” (Washington Monthly).
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About the author

Sidney Blumenthal is the acclaimed author of A Self-Made Man and Wrestling with His Angel, the first two volumes in his five-volume biography, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln. He is the former assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. He has been a national staff reporter for The Washington Post and Washington editor and writer for The New Yorker. His books include the bestselling The Clinton Wars, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment, and The Permanent Campaign. Born and raised in Illinois, he lives in Washington, DC.

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4.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
May 10, 2016
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Pages
576
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ISBN
9781476777276
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Presidents & Heads of State
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
History / World
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Eligible for Family Library

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The “magisterial” (The New York Times Book Review) second volume of Sidney Blumenthal’s acclaimed, landmark biography, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, reveals the future president’s genius during the most decisive period of his political life when he seizes the moment, finds his voice, and helps create a new political party.

In 1849, Abraham Lincoln seems condemned to political isolation and defeat. His Whig Party is broken in the 1852 election, and disintegrates. His perennial rival, Stephen Douglas, forges an alliance with the Southern senators and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. Violent struggle breaks out on the plains of Kansas, a prelude to the Civil War.

Lincoln rises to the occasion. Only he can take on Douglas in Illinois. He finally delivers the dramatic speech that leaves observers stunned. In 1855, he makes a race for the Senate against Douglas, which he loses when he throws his support to a rival to prevent the election of a proslavery candidate. In Wrestling With His Angel, Sidney Blumenthal explains how Lincoln and his friends operate behind the scenes to destroy the anti-immigrant party in Illinois to clear the way for a new Republican Party. Lincoln takes command and writes its first platform and vaults onto the national stage as the leader of a party that will launch him to the presidency.

The Washington Monthly hailed Blumenthal’s Volume I as, “splendid…no one can come away from reading A Self-Made Man without eagerly anticipating the ensuing volumes.” Pulitzer Prize–winning author Diane McWhorter hailed Volume II as “dramatic narrative history, prophetic and intimate.” Wrestling With His Angel brings Lincoln from the wilderness to the peak of his career as he is determined to enter into the battle for the nation’s soul and to win it for democracy.
The “magisterial” (The New York Times Book Review) second volume of Sidney Blumenthal’s acclaimed, landmark biography, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, reveals the future president’s genius during the most decisive period of his political life when he seizes the moment, finds his voice, and helps create a new political party.

In 1849, Abraham Lincoln seems condemned to political isolation and defeat. His Whig Party is broken in the 1852 election, and disintegrates. His perennial rival, Stephen Douglas, forges an alliance with the Southern senators and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. Violent struggle breaks out on the plains of Kansas, a prelude to the Civil War.

Lincoln rises to the occasion. Only he can take on Douglas in Illinois. He finally delivers the dramatic speech that leaves observers stunned. In 1855, he makes a race for the Senate against Douglas, which he loses when he throws his support to a rival to prevent the election of a proslavery candidate. In Wrestling With His Angel, Sidney Blumenthal explains how Lincoln and his friends operate behind the scenes to destroy the anti-immigrant party in Illinois to clear the way for a new Republican Party. Lincoln takes command and writes its first platform and vaults onto the national stage as the leader of a party that will launch him to the presidency.

The Washington Monthly hailed Blumenthal’s Volume I as, “splendid…no one can come away from reading A Self-Made Man without eagerly anticipating the ensuing volumes.” Pulitzer Prize–winning author Diane McWhorter hailed Volume II as “dramatic narrative history, prophetic and intimate.” Wrestling With His Angel brings Lincoln from the wilderness to the peak of his career as he is determined to enter into the battle for the nation’s soul and to win it for democracy.
An invaluable history of an extraordinary presidency, and the chronicle of a generation's political odyssey

When in 1997 Bill Clinton appointed Sidney Blumenthal as a senior advisor, the former writer was catapulted into the front lines of the Clinton wars. From his first day in the White House until long after his appearance as the only presidential aide ever to testify in an impeachment trial, Blumenthal acted in or witnessed nearly all the battles of the Clinton years. This major book—part history, part memoir—is the first inside account we have of the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton.

The Clinton Wars begins in 1987, when Blumenthal first met Bill and Hillary Clinton. His chronicle of Clinton's first presidential campaign and first term draws on his experiences as confidant to both the President and the First Lady, and is enriched with previously unpublished revelations about both. This remarkable personal interpretation goes far in explaining the polarizing nature of Clinton's presence on the national scene.

The narrative of Clinton's second term is even more dramatic. Blumenthal takes special note of the battle that was waged within the media between the President's detractors and defenders, which he expands into a vivid picture of Washington society torn apart by warring factions. But he does not neglect the wars fought on other fronts—in Kosovo, against Congress, and for economic prosperity. His remarkable book ends with the inside story of the fight to elect Al Gore in 2000 and extend the legacy of the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Every page of this unrivaled, authoritative book, with its intimate insights into Clinton's personality and politics, attests to Blumenthal's literary skill, profound understanding of politics, and unique perspective on crucial events of our recent past. The Clinton Wars is a lasting contribution to American history.

The surprising story of how Thomas Jefferson commanded an unrivaled age of American exploration—and in presiding over that era of discovery, forged a great nation.
  
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Britain, France, Spain, and the United States all jockeyed for control of the vast expanses west of the Mississippi River, the stakes for American expansion were incalculably high. Even after the American purchase of the Louisiana Territory, Spain still coveted that land and was prepared to employ any means to retain it. With war expected at any moment, Jefferson played a game of strategy, putting on the ground the only Americans he could: a cadre of explorers who finally annexed it through courageous investigation.
 
Responsible for orchestrating the American push into the continent was President Thomas Jefferson. He most famously recruited Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who led the Corps of Discovery to the Pacific, but at the same time there were other teams who did the same work, in places where it was even more crucial. William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and the dauntless Zebulon Pike—all were dispatched on urgent missions to map the frontier and keep up a steady correspondence with Washington about their findings.
 
But they weren’t always well-matched—with each other and certainly not with a Spanish army of a thousand soldiers or more. These tensions threatened to undermine Jefferson’s goals for the nascent country, leaving the United States in danger of losing its foothold in the West. Deeply researched and inspiringly told, Jefferson’s America rediscovers the robust and often harrowing action from these seminal expeditions and illuminates the president’s vision for a continental America.
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