A Friend of Mr. Lincoln: Book summary and reviews of A Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

by Stephen Harrigan

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan X
A Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2016
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

The author of the best-selling The Gates of the Alamo now gives us a galvanizing portrait of Abraham Lincoln during a crucially revealing period of his life, the early Springfield years, when he risked both his sanity and his ethical bearings as he searched for the great destiny he believed to be his.

It is Illinois in the 1830s and 1840s. Abraham Lincoln is a circuit-riding lawyer, a member of the state legislature, a man of almost ungovernable ambition. To his friends he is also a beloved figure, by turns charmingly awkward and mesmerizingly self-possessed - a man of whom they, too, expect big things. Among his friends and political colleagues are Joshua Speed, William Herndon, Stephen Douglas, and many others who have come to the exploding frontier town of Springfield to find their futures.

It is through another friend, a fictional poet, Cage Weatherby, that we will come to know Lincoln in his twenties and thirties, as a series of formative, surprising incidents unfolds - his service in the Black Hawk War, his participation in a poetry-writing society, a challenge to a duel that begins as a farce but quickly rises to lethal potential ... Cage both admires and clashes with Lincoln, sometimes questioning his legal ethics and his cautious stance on slavery. But he is by Lincoln's side as Lincoln slips back and forth between high spirits and soul-hollowing sadness and depression, and as he recovers from a disastrous courtship of one woman to marry the beautiful, capricious, politically savvy Mary Todd. It is Mary who will bring stability to Lincoln's life, but who will also trigger a conflict that sends the two men on very different paths into the future.

Historically accurate, rich in character, filled with the juice and dreams and raw ambitions of Americans on the make in an early frontier city, A Friend of Mr. Lincoln is a revelatory and moving portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in his young manhood. It is a close-up, involving experience, the sort of vibrant glimpse beneath the veneer of history that only the very best fiction can provide.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Harrigan's standout novel shows the endurance of friendship, and historical fans will find much to savor." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. In a first-rate rendering, Harrigan shows a young Lincoln in all his moods and temperaments, providing context with vividly detailed historical events." - Library Journal

"A narrative that presents keen insights into Lincoln's complex personality." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Stephen Harrigan Author Biography

Photo Credit: Kerry Braun

Stephen Harrigan was born in Oklahoma City in 1948 and has lived in Texas since the age of five, growing up in Abilene and Corpus Christi. For many years he was a staff writer and senior editor at Texas Monthly, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of other publications as well, including The Atlantic, Outside, The New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Life, Slate, and others.

He has written several novels, essay collections, non-fiction and screenplays. A 1971 graduate of the University of Texas, Harrigan lives in Austin, where he is on the faculty of UT's James A. Michener Center for Writers. He and his wife, Sue Ellen, have three daughters, Marjorie, Dorothy and Charlotte.

His book The Gates of the Alamo, which became a New York Times bestseller ...

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