Top 10 Abraham Lincoln Bestsellers: April 2009

Due to the growing number of Abraham Lincoln books being released, I will now be doing a monthly Top 10 Abraham Lincoln Books series in addition to the Top 10 Civil War Books series.  Readers who are looking for Abraham Lincoln books can’t go wrong selecting titles from this list.

As in each entry in the series, I’ve taken the liberty of removing non-Abraham Lincoln related books from the list.  In cases where a book is about Lincoln AND others, such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, it was left on the Civil War list.  The books below are in the Abraham Lincoln Top 10 as of April 3, 2009.  Since this is the first time TOCWOC is doing a Lincoln Top 10, there are no “previous month” numbers to draw on.  Look for those in the next blog entry in this series.

Note: Some of these books are the Kindle edition. Kindle is Amazon’s handheld device for reading books electronically.  Amazon has recently come out with Kindle 2, a sleeker version which also allows you to upload many public domain books for minimal or no cost!

1. (-) A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr.

Summary: The reviews have been mostly positive for this one-volume history of Lincoln.  It appears to be both reader friendly and affordable, making it a good candidate for a Top 10 bestsellers list.

2. (-) Abraham Lincoln by James M. McPherson

Summary: This can’t really be called a book at only 96 pages.  It is basically a short summary of Lincoln’s life and McPherson’s attempt to make a quick buck.  I strongly recommend avoiding this one if you want to learn anything new.

3. (-) Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Phillips

Summary: This book is aimed at businessman and applying Lincoln’s leadership to today’s business world.

4. (-) Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James McPherson

Summary: This is another McPherson summary.  Many other Civil War bloggers have already commented on the lack of any new insights or groundbreaking material in this book.

5. (-) Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Summary: Swanson’s book recounts the race to find and arrest John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

6. (-) Lincoln by David Herbert Donald

Summary: This book is quite often cited as the best one volume biography of Lincoln ever written.

7. (-) The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln by Bill Adler

Summary: Lincoln quotes are divided into categories and presented to readers.  I wonder how many of these are true Lincoln quotes and how many are apocryphal.

8. (-) In Lincoln’s Hand: His Original Manuscripts edited by Harold Holzer and Joshua Wolf Shenk

Summary: This book, edited by two prominent Lincoln scholars, both who have written books on Lincoln as well, offers Lincoln documents along with commentary from distinguished Americans.

9. (-) Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon by Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt Jr.

Summary: This book, a sequel to Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography, looks at how the Lincoln legend grew between Lincoln’s death in 1865 and the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922.

10. (-) 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelan Flood

Summary: Flood looks at the important final year of Lincoln’s life, a time when the Civil War hung in the balance.

Dropped Out This Month:

There are no books in this inaugural month.  Look for this area to contain more information in the next Abraham Lincoln Top 10.

Brett’s Final Thoughts:

I was at first surprised that Michael Burlingame’s Abraham Lincoln: A Life was not in the top 10, but the cost might be prohibitive when it comes to most people affording it, much less the two-volume book becoming a bestseller.  The continued popular success of some of McPherson’s “summary” books somewhat discourages me.  To be fair, many of the people buying these books have read nothing else on Lincoln, so summaries are a useful tool in these cases.

Previous Books in the Top 10 Prior to Last Month’s Top 10:

There are no books in this inaugural month.  Look for this area to contain more information in the next Abraham Lincoln Top 10.

Look over past Top 10 Civil War Books lists to see how various books have done over time!

Read more Civil War Book Reviews here at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog!

Check out Brett’s Civil War Books!

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4 responses to “Top 10 Abraham Lincoln Bestsellers: April 2009”

  1. The Abraham Lincoln Observer Avatar

    Six out of 10 real Abe books, not a bad proportion (I’m leaving out the two McPherson entries, along with Adler and “Lincoln on Leadership”).

    Somehow hadn’t heard of “1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History.” I’ll have to follow up.

    And, yeah, the Burlingame book is never going to challenge for the top 10, not at $125 a pop. I’m still saving my pennies; hope it’s as good as reputed when I finally do get it.

    Suggestion for next month … Would it be possible to note which are the Kindle editions?

  2. Vince Avatar

    This is a really great top ten list, thanks for the recommendations. I have been much more interested in Lincoln since the History Channel ran a couple short documentaries on his assassination. Anyone can post their own list to our site The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  3. admin Avatar


    I’ll make sure I mention the Kindle editions next time for sure. I’m hoping to get the Burlingame bio of Lincoln as well, but it might be awhile just like you.


    I filled out a Top Ten list for this at your site. I’ll make sure I do the same later since I plan to do a lot more top ten lists in the future.


  4. […] in this bicentennial anniversary of his birth, I’ve split out the Lincoln books into an Top 10 Abraham Lincoln bestsellers list, the first of which debuted this month.  Any Lincoln books with a Civil War focus can be found there rather than in this […]

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