**Thirty five years ago Lord Charnwood's moving one-volume life of Lincoln set a high standard at which many have aimed and fallen short. Today- with the benefit of what those years have brought in the way of primary source material release- Benjamin P. Thomas has done the kind of book Charnwood might well have wanted to have written. It seems unlikely that a more absorbing, revealing and satisfactory life in a single volume will come our way again in this generation. Access to the as yet unpublished second volume of the collected works, based on the Robert Todd Lincoln Collection made available in 1947, has given Mr. Thomas an opportunity of which he has made telling use. We all know the skeleton of the Lincoln story, we know the legends that have grown up about it, we know the deathless contribution to our American heritage and the heritage of democracy made by Lincoln in his speeches and writings. Here- despite the limitations of some 600 pages -- the biographer has rounded out the portrait of a man and the issues he sought to solve. ""Tough, shrewd and canny in his younger years, the man who was bringing the nation through to victory had become strong, merciful and wise. Success had come to him, and to the nation he served, because he had lived and governed according to its ideals.""... Some of the legends dissolve; many of them take on substance as authentic fact. One feels the stature of Lincoln the more for going through, with him, those early years of struggle, defeat, disappointment -- sensing the indomitable spirit that came back for more. Here was no lay figure to whom success came unsought. Here, instead, was a politician in the making, with immense determination to win through, against all odds. The picture of the country at large in respect to Lincoln is another facet that comes clear in these pages. Hated, scoffed at, reviled, plotted against, almost never accepted by those in the seats of power, Lincoln won the people -- and the acclaim of posterity. A battling, antagonistic Congress, a Cabinet resentful, jealous, suspicious, a pattern of defeat for the greater part of the war between the states -- never has one man had to face, almost alone, such a battery of opposing forces. His growth, under adversity- in public life and private- is the story one can read again and again and again. An exciting book, which fills a very vital need.