Many years ago when I was a student pursuing my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, I was introduced to Russell Freedman’s stellar non-fiction and biographical accounts for young people. One of Freedman’s books that made a lasting impression on me was his Newbery award-winning photobiography of President Lincoln. Freedman presents a well-rounded portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the very real and complicated man, not just the legends and myths previously spun for children’s literature. Lincoln was a man of great contrasts: he had a rollicking wit and sense of humor as well as terrible bouts of depression; he had little formal “eddication” but became an eloquent public speaker and a great writer whose words continue to live on; even though he is venerated and honored today as a hero, he was vilified during the war years.
With clear prose and with photographs and other primary documents, Freedman takes the reader through Lincoln’s tumultuous life from his humble beginnings, to his presidential ambitions, the complex issues surrounding the Civil War, and finally, to his assassination. One touching part among many shows four portraits taken of Lincoln during the war years. You can see how the pressure and anxieties of that terrible time become etched into his craggy visage. Freeman concludes with a “Lincoln Sampler” of quotations and letter excerpts, a listing of historic sites, a bibliography and an index.
Although published 20 years ago, this title still remains a very relevant, well-organized, and thoughtful biography that both children and adults may enjoy.