The obvious result of years of informed and dedicated research, this long and meticulously documented volume by an authority on Lincoln is both an important addition to the long list of Lincoln biographies and also a detailed and highly readable study of the political backgrounds of the Civil War. In part paralleling Duff's Prairie Lawyer and drawing largely on contemporary sources, as do the authors of the somewhat similar Civil War book, Tragic Years, the author treats all phases of Lincoln's life: his ancestry and far from wretched childhood; his lack of formal education and also, surprisingly, his dislike of books and love of newspapers; his legal career and innate political acumen; his attitude toward slavery; his marriage to emotionally unstable Mary Todd and his relations to his children; his nomination and election; his troubled years in the White House and his part in the War; his advisors and his tragic death. Personally ambitious, a politician born and a self- taught master of English, Lincoln often displayed an amazing lack of perception, bowing to office-seekers, taking advice from the wrong men, appointing the wrong generals; knowing little of military affairs, by his meddling in McClellan's campaigns he perhaps prolonged the war he hated. His greatness lay in his ability to surmount his own failings, in his selfless devotion to the Union, and in his superb political genius, which is here given its proper due. Presenting a far more fascinating picture of Lincoln than the usual myth-enshrouded portrait, this fine volume will appeal to students, teachers and historians, to collectors of Lincolniana, and to devotees of authentic and well-written biography.