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University of Virginia Press


Becoming Lincoln is a study of Abraham Lincoln’s life before his presidency, which focuses not on his successes, but on his failures. Beginning with his youth, the volume addresses Lincoln’s early political setbacks from defeats at the ballot box to his time in the Illinois state legislature, a length of four terms that the author considers less than successful. This captivating book focuses on Lincoln’s journey to the presidency, alongside the recently released Sydney Blumenthal’s series The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln and David Herbert Donald’s Lincoln.

All the while, Professor Freehling, Emeritus, University of Kentucky, avoids David Donald’s interpretation of Lincoln as both reflexive and passive. The author of The Road to Disunion, Freehling considers Lincoln’s thoughts of and his relationship with his father and his failures. This relationship, Professor Freehling argues, is the driving force behind Lincoln’s constant effort to excel in his work.