This latest of Olivia Coolidge's carefully constructed lives concentrates on Lincoln's middle years as a Springfield lawyer and slowly builds a portrait of a hardworking politician, a man innately sociable and cautious, of high principles and frustrated ambitions, whose very slowness made him an acceptable, but far from accidental, candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination -- because his better-known, more energetic rivals had already earned too many enemies. Coolidge patiently sifts through such timeless questions as the legend of Ann Rutledge (largely untrue, she concludes), Mary Todd's character, and Lincoln's estrangement from his family. But her most notable accomplishment is the reconstruction of the issues which animated the era -- in particular, the policies of Stephen Douglas, who hoped to finesse the slavery issue, become dear, and much of the mystique surrounding Lincoln's elevation to the Republican nomination and the Presidency is dispelled. As always, Coolidge gives us a freely tuned, conscientious assessment, strong on background. And if this is slow moving in spots (the recapitulation of Lincoln's romantic life makes rather a lot out of a little), the pace is ultimately rewarding -- bringing a new depth and dimension to the familiar Lincoln.