President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most talked about presidents in American history. He was known for his role in the Civil War and his work to abolish slavery.
You will find many books written about him and our list includes 30 of the best.
Here you will find books about his childhood, his time in the House of Representatives, his time as President, and more historical accounts of his assassination.
Written by: Doris Kearns Goodwin
President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet was one of the most unusual in history. It was made up of his political rivals who had very different opinions on how to run the country.
But Lincoln chose these people because he believed that they would challenge him and help him make the best decisions for the country.
This book by Doris Kerns Goodwin tells the story of how these men came together to form one of the most effective governments in American history.
Written by: Stephen B. Oates
Published: 2011 (1977)
Few American presidents are as revered and respected as Abraham Lincoln. In his biography With Malice Toward None, historian Stephen B. Oates paints an intimate portrait of the man who led America through the Civil War.
Drawing on extensive research, Oates provides an in-depth look at Lincoln's life and legacy, from his humble upbringing to his tragic death.
This definitive biography is essential reading for anyone interested in one of America's most iconic leaders.
Written by: William Lee Miller
Although best known for his role in the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was also a statesman of great distinction.
William Lee Miller provides a comprehensive overview of Lincoln's career, from his early years in the Illinois legislature to the presidency in this landmark book.
Drawing on many sources, Miller sheds light on Lincoln's political thought and provides an insightful analysis of his presidency. The result is an illuminating portrait of one of America's most distinguished leaders.
Written by: Bruce Catton, James M. McPherson
Published: 2004 (1960)
In his book, The Civil War, Bruce Catton discusses the events leading up to and during the American Civil War. He offers a detailed account of how the war unfolded and provides fascinating insights into the characters and strategies of the key players involved.
It's an essential read for anyone looking to read and learn more about President Lincoln's role before and during this critical event in American history.
>> More books about the Civil War
Written by: David von Drehle
Few people know that Abraham Lincoln's presidency was in danger of ending before it even began. In the winter of 1860-1861, seven southern states seceded from the Union, and many believed that the remaining states would soon follow.
Lincoln faced enormous challenges the minute he stepped into office as he sought to keep the nation together and prevent a civil war.
In this riveting book, David von Drehle tells the story of the twelve months of Lincoln in office during 1962. It was a time when America came closer than ever to breaking apart.
Von Drehle shows how Lincoln rose to greatness during this challenging time, deftly navigating through some of the most treacherous waters in American history. This is a must-read for anyone interested in American politics or history.
Written by: Thomas J. DiLorenzo
There's a new book out on Abraham Lincoln, and it paints a very different picture of the 16th president than what we typically read. According to the author, Lincoln had a plan that went beyond preserving the Union - he wanted to centralize power in Washington and expand the government's role in society.
The Civil War was not necessary, but it allowed Lincoln to pursue his goals without interference from Congress. This is a very different view of Lincoln than what we are taught in school, and it's worth taking a closer look at.
Written by: James L. Swanson
On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth. For 12 days, the nation was on edge as officials hunted for Booth. This riveting book tells the story of that dramatic search.
Swanson does an excellent job of capturing the tension and fear that gripped the nation during those days. He also provides fascinating insights into the characters of Lincoln and Booth.
Written by: Ted Widmer
On February 11, 1861, Abraham Lincoln boarded a train in Springfield, Illinois, and began the journey to Washington D.C. He had been elected president just two months earlier and was now on the verge of one of the most noteworthy moments in American history.
In thirteen days, he would be sworn into office and begin his presidency.
Ted Widmer's book Lincoln on the Verge tells the story of those thirteen days, delving into everything from Lincoln's thoughts and fears to the reactions of those around him. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the days shortly before Lincoln’s Presidency.
Written by: Douglas L. Wilson
President Lincoln was known for his powerful speeches and using words to effect change. His Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in American history, and it is considered one of the greatest speeches ever given.
Lincoln's Sword explores the power of words and their ability to shape history.
Douglas L. Wilson provides a detailed look at Lincoln's life, how he turned himself into a fantastic writer, and how he used words to achieve his goals as president.
Written by: Carl Sandburg
Published: 2005 (1939)
This comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln tells the story of his life, from his humble beginnings on a small farm in Kentucky to his election as the 16th president of the United States, and finally to his assassination at Ford's Theatre.
Carl Sandburg's Pulitzer Prize-winning work is considered one of the best biographies ever written about Lincoln, and it provides readers with a detailed look at both the Prairie Years and the War Years.
Sandburg paints an intimate portrait of Lincoln as a man who was often morally conflicted yet always determined to do what he believed was suitable for his country.
Written by: Richard J. Carwardine
President Lincoln had a great sense of humor that he used to deal with the stresses of the Civil War. He often used jokes and puns to make light of difficult situations and help keep morale high among his staff and supporters.
Even in the darkest moments of the war, Lincoln could find something to laugh about. His sense of humor was one of his most defining characteristics, and it helped him through some very tough times.
Lincoln's Sense of Humor shows you how he used his humor in speeches, letters, and in his conversations. It shows you how his humor matured over time and the risks he took using humor during a dark time in U.S. history.
Written by: Ronald C. White Jr.
A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr is a riveting account of the life of Abraham Lincoln, from his humble beginnings to becoming one of the most influential presidents in American history.
This meticulously researched biography sheds new light on many aspects of Lincoln's life, including his family relationships, political career, and presidency.
White used newly discovered documentation that helped shed even more light on the life of the 16th President of the United States.
Written by: Eric Foner
President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most celebrated figures in American history, and for a good reason. He led the country through the Civil War, which ultimately ended slavery in the United States.
But Lincoln's views on race and slavery were not always popular, and he often faced significant opposition from both abolitionists and pro-slavery forces.
In The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, historian Eric Foner examines the complex and evolving relationship between Lincoln and America's slaveholding past.
Written by: Bruce Catton
In his book, Mr. Lincoln's Army, Bruce Catton writes about the Union Army during the American Civil War. He tells how the army formed and grew and changed over time.
Catton provides a detailed description of the battles fought by the Union Army and offers insights into the thoughts and motivations of Lincoln and his generals.
Written by: David Herbert Donald
Published: 2001 (1956)
In Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era, author David Herbert Donald takes a fresh look at Abraham Lincoln and his presidency. This collection of essays covers everything from Lincoln’s early life up to the end of the Civil War.
Donald provides a detailed analysis of each topic, offering a new perspective on Lincoln and the Civil War era.
Originally written in 1956, this updated version offers two additional essays about Lincoln’s time as president and a new preface with details on all of his updates to this book.
Written by: James M. McPherson
Few presidents have been tested as much as Abraham Lincoln was during the Civil War. Serving as both commander-in-chief of the Union army and head of state, Lincoln had to make decisions that would impact the course of history.
In Tried by War, James M. McPherson offers a comprehensive look at Lincoln's wartime leadership. McPherson draws on many sources to explore every aspect of Lincoln's presidency, from his handling of military strategy to his relations with political leaders and the public.
Written by: Richard J. Carwardine
Richard Carwardine's Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power is a comprehensive biography of America's 16th president. Carwardine provides a detailed account of Lincoln's life, from his humble beginnings to his role in the Civil War and assassination.
The book also includes an extensive analysis of Lincoln's speeches and writings, offering insight into the thought process and political strategy behind one of America's most iconic leaders.
Written by: Henry Ketcham
Published: 2019 (1901)
Henry Ketcham's biography of Abraham Lincoln is a comprehensive and insightful look at the life of one of America's most famous presidents. Drawing on a wealth of sources, including Lincoln's writings, Ketcham paints a picture of a man who was both brilliant and complicated.
From his humble beginnings to his role in leading the United States through the Civil War, this book provides an in-depth view into the life of one of our nation's most admired leaders.
Written by: Edward Achorn
On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in for his second term as the 16th President of the United States. The inauguration was a momentous occasion; Lincoln had been re-elected despite being in the midst of a bloody Civil War.
Lincoln called for reconciliation between the North and the South in his inaugural speech. He also urged Americans to put their differences aside and work together to preserve the Union. The address was met with mixed reactions; some hailed it as a call to patriotism, while others saw it as a sign of weakness.
Regardless of people's opinions, Lincoln's inauguration marked a significant turning point in America's history.
This book takes you there on the day of the inauguration to learn more about the key players, the President's famous speech, and how it led up to his assassination just over a month later.
Written by: H.W. Brands
In 1859, John Brown led a raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, to arm enslaved people and sparking a widespread slave uprising. The plan failed, and Brown was captured and later executed. Yet his actions helped to plant the seeds of the Civil War. r
Brown was looked at as a martyr for many in the North. Those in the South were appalled by his actions and how people admired his work after his death.
Even before Lincoln became president, he asked the question of the best way to deal with the growing unrest over slavery.
As president, he ultimately chose to fight for emancipation and preserve the Union, setting America on the path to abolition.
Though they had different motivations and tactics, both John Brown and Abraham Lincoln fought for freedom.
Written by: David Herbert Donald
When it comes to American presidents, Abraham Lincoln is one of the most revered. His presidency marked a time of significant change in the United States, and he is remembered for his role in the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald is a comprehensive biography of our 16th president, covering his life from birth to death. It provides perspective on Lincoln's career as a lawyer, politician, and president, as well as his personal life.
Written by: Brian Kilmeade
It is well-known that Abraham Lincoln was one of the most influential presidents in United States history. He is credited with leading the country through the Civil War and helping to abolish slavery.
Less well-known is that Lincoln had a strong friendship with Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, and abolitionist leader.
They didn't start as friends, but over time as they became more aligned, they began to respect each other immensely.
This book takes you behind the scenes on both men, their beliefs, motivations, and how they eventually became friends. This friendship allowed them to work together to fight to end slavery.
>> Additional books about Frederick Douglass
Written by: Garry Wills
Published: 2006 (1992)
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American history. Known as the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's speech was a rallying cry for the Union troops and helped redefine the Civil War's purpose.
In his book, Garry Wills provides an in-depth examination of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and reveals its lasting impact on American politics and society.
Through careful analysis of Lincoln's words and historical context, Wills shows how this short speech became a touchstone for America's democratic values.
Written by: James M. McPherson
Published: 1991 (1983)
Abraham Lincoln is often lauded as the hero of the Union during the American Civil War. However, James M. McPherson believes that Lincoln's role in the war was even more significant than that – he believes that Lincoln was the leader of a second American Revolution.
McPherson makes this argument by looking at Lincoln's speeches and letters, which show that he saw the Civil War as a fight for liberty and equality for all Americans.
By understanding Lincoln's vision for America, we can see how he helped change our country for the better and laid the groundwork for future progress.
Written by: Harold Holzer
On February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech at Cooper Union in New York to change his life and American history. Lincoln argued that slavery was morally wrong and should be abolished in the address.
His powerful rhetoric convinced many people that he was the right man for the president's job, and he went on to win the election in November of that year.
Lincoln's Cooper Union speech is considered one of the most important speeches in American history.
Holzer does a deep dive into the speech and offers his analysis of it in relation to the public sentiment at the time.
Written by: Henry Freeman
Henry Freeman's book, Abraham Lincoln: A Life From Beginning to End, offers a comprehensive look at Lincoln's life from start to finish.
This detailed biography paints an intimate portrait of our country's 16th president, shedding light on his upbringing, political career, and remarkable achievements during the Civil War.
Freeman also talks about the president’s assassination and his ongoing legacy.
Written by: David S. Reynolds
David S. Reynolds' Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times is a meticulously researched and impressively written biography of America's 16th president. From his childhood on the frontier to his tumultuous years as president during the Civil War, Reynolds provides an intimate look at Lincoln's life and times.
This book does a great job of going more in-depth on Lincoln's early life. Reynolds also gives us a fantastic look into Lincoln as a young man, the culture at the time, and how it shaped his political career.
Written by: John Stauffer
In his new book, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, John Stauffer offers a fresh take on two of America's most iconic figures. Drawing on letters and other primary sources, Stauffer paints a portrait of two far more alike than different men.
Both were self-made giants who came from humble beginnings and overcame incredible odds to change the course of history.
Passionate abolitionists also saw the Civil War as an opportunity to end slavery once and for all.
This is an important book that reminds us of the common roots of these two American heroes.
Written by: Sidney Blumenthal
This is the first book in a set of three on the life of Abraham Lincoln. This is an important one as it talks more about his childhood and how that shaped his political views.
It’s a great look at his family, how he became anti-slavery at a young age, and the hurdle he had to overcome to date and eventually marry Mary Todd.
It's his life from birth up until 1854, when he was just starting to become a well-respected Republican leader.
Written by: Richard Brookhiser
In his book, Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, Richard Brookhiser provides an in-depth look at the life of Abraham Lincoln. It starts by showing how, at an early age, Lincoln was already reading and studying the Constitution and other documents by the Founding Fathers to understand their vision better.
This early work and dedication helped shape his vision and led him down the path to becoming a lawyer, representative, and eventually the 16th President of the United States.