October 14, 2016

Reading List: Abraham Lincoln

  • By: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Statue of Lincoln with horse

photo by: President Lincoln's Cottage

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, D.C.

The National Trust's connection to President Abraham Lincoln runs deep. We're proud to co-steward President's Lincoln's Cottage in Washington D.C., and our HOPE Crew program has worked to restore his boyhood home.

Is there a lover of history, presidents, or Lincoln himself in your life? A quick search uncovers over 40,000 books about or relating to Abraham Lincoln, but don't get overwhelmed as you look for the perfect gift. We've handpicked a few of our favorites, from robust biographies to less reverent tomes, to help guide you towards the right book for your mood.

Lincoln: Speeches and Writings

Sometimes the best way to learn about someone is through their own words. Thankfully, in the case of President Lincoln there is no shortage! This collection of his speeches and writings spans 1859-1865, and includes more than 550 speeches, messages, proclamations, letters, and other writings—including the Inaugural and Gettysburg addresses.

Team of Rivals

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book was the basis for the movie Lincoln, and is a fascinating dive into a tumultuous period of American history. Her enthusiasm for her subject infuses every page:

"Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country—bigger than all the Presidents together."

Facade of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

photo by: Nathan Rupert/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A view of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln: The Screenplay

There are not many films that warrant a hardcover edition of the screenplay, but Lincoln qualifies. Written by Tony Kushner, the screenplay was described by Entertainment Weekly as “a lyrical, ingeniously structured screenplay. Lincoln is one of the most authentic biographical dramas I’ve ever seen … grand and immersive. It plugs us into the final months of Lincoln’s presidency with a purity that makes us feel transported as if by time machine.”

Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen

Complete with 55 of authentic recipes from 1820 to 1865 updated for the modern kitchen, this culinary biography even includes a chapter on President Lincoln's Cottage. Learn how barbecues were served without the aid of paper plates, cups, and napkins; speculate about Lincoln's favorite childhood gingerbread recipe; and more.

I am Abraham Lincoln (Ordinary People Change the World)

For the younger reader, this inspiring (and entertaining) biography by Brad Meltzer is the ideal read. It follows the life of Lincoln from childhood to the White House. The illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos are a charming part of the book, bringing the stories to life.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Seth Graeme Smith takes a rather different view of President Lincoln in this comic horror exploration of an alternate history in which Lincoln had duties far beyond those of a normal president. This book is not for the faint of heart (nor for the serious historian).

Did we miss a title? Do you have a book you'd recommend? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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