Quoting extensively from primary sources, the author details Lincoln's first 25 years. After little luck with farming and at odds with Kentucky's slavery stance, Tom Lincoln moves his family to Indiana. There nine-year-old Abe loses his beloved mother and gains a loving stepmother. Along with these biographical facts, the author includes details of frontier life--children's games, food, transportation, courting rituals. The reader learns that family and friends thought the teen-aged Abe lazy, gawky, quick-witted, popular, strong, shy around girls, and ""peculiarsome."" His New Salem, Illinois, days are also documented with quotes about his honesty, debts, fights, storytelling ability, and poor wardrobe. The author, skeptical about Lincoln's romance with Ann Rutledge, includes five pages of often contradictory quotations from friends. This work covers much of the same material found in Sandburg's Abe Lincoln Grows Up, a volume many Lincoln scholars now view with skepticism. Kigel's approach is of a careful historian, but his style of quotations interwoven by narrative is not always smooth. The confusing introductory chapter would be better read last, in fact. Bibliography, chronology, collected footnotes, and index.