This award-winning two-volume biography, hailed as the definitive portrait of Lincoln, is now available in paperback.

“The author knows more about Lincoln than any other living person.”
—James McPherson, New York Review of Books

“No review could do complete justice to the magnificent two-volume biography that has been so well-wrought by Michael Burlingame.”
—Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Monthly



Abraham Lincoln, A Life Volume I

ISBN: 978-1-4214-0973-3
£15.50 pb

Volume I covers Lincoln’s early childhood, his experiences as a farm boy in Indiana and Illinois, his legal training, and the political ambition that led to a term in Congress in the 1840s, and the great personal transformation he experienced in the mid-1850s.

“A stunning feat of research.”
Publishers Weekly

“A magisterial enterprise.”
William Safire, New York Times

Aburlingame2braham Lincoln, A Life Volume 2

ISBN: 978-1-4214-1058-6
$29.95/£15.50 pb

In volume II, Burlingame examines Lincoln’s life during his presidency and the Civil War, narrating in fascinating detail the crisis over Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s own battles with relentless office seekers, hostile newspaper editors, and incompetent field commanders. Burlingame also offers new interpretations of Lincoln’s private life, discussing his marriage to Mary Todd and the untimely deaths of two sons to disease.

But through it all—his difficult childhood, his contentious political career, a fratricidal war, and tragic personal losses—Lincoln preserved a keen sense of humor and acquired a psychological maturity that proved to be the North’s most valuable asset in winning the Civil War.

“Lincoln scholars have waited anxiously for this book for decades. Its triumphant publication proves it was well worth the wait. Few scholars have written with greater insight about the psychology of Lincoln. No one in recent history has uncovered more fresh sources than Michael Burlingame. This profound and masterful portrait will be read and studied for years to come.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin

Awards and Prizes

  • Lincoln Prize, Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College
  • Cowinner, Book Award, Abraham Lincoln Institute
  • Russell P. Strange Book Award, Illinois State Historical Society
  • PROSE Award for Best Book in U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers
  • Named One of the 5 Best Books of 2009 by The Atlantic
  • Named One of the 10 Top Lincoln Books by Chicago Tribune

“This book supplants [Carl] Sandburg and supersedes all other biographies. Future Lincoln books cannot be written without it, and from no other book can a general reader learn so much about Abraham Lincoln. It is the essential title for the bicentennial.”—James L. Swanson, Publishers Weekly

“In a monumental and meticulous two-volume study of the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Michael Burlingame presents Lincoln’s actions and speeches not as they have come to be remembered, through the fine lens of our gratitude and admiration, but as they were received in his day. (All of the examples in this essay are drawn from Burlingame’s book, which should be required reading for anyone seriously interested in Lincoln.)”—Mark Bowden, The Atlantic  June 2013 edition

Michael Burlingame is Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. He is the author or editor of several books about Lincoln, including Lincoln Observed: Civil War Dispatches of Noah Brooks, published by Johns Hopkins, and The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln.

Media Inquiries: Please contact JHU Press publicist Robin Noonan  [email protected] or (410) 516-6930