Lincoln's Mentors: The Education of a Leader by Michael Gerhardt (Goodreads Author)
A brilliant and novel examination of how Abraham Lincoln mastered the art of leadership
“Gerhardt has devised an ingenious solution for demystifying America’s most enigmatic president: examining the key people who influenced Lincoln as he developed his own unique skills and leadership style.” –Russell L. Riley, UVA’s Miller Center
In 1849, when Abraham Lincoln returned to Springfield, Illinois, after two seemingly uninspiring years in the U.S. House of Representatives, his political career appeared all but finished. His sense of failure was so great that friends worried about his sanity. Yet within a decade, Lincoln would reenter politics, become a leader of the Republican Party, win the 1860 presidential election, and keep America together during its most perilous period. What accounted for the turnaround?
As Michael J. Gerhardt reveals, Lincoln’s reemergence followed the same path he had taken before, in which he read voraciously and learned from the successes, failures, oratory, and political maneuvering of a surprisingly diverse handful of men, some of whom he had never met but others of whom he knew intimately—Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, John Todd Stuart, and Orville Browning. From their experiences and his own, Lincoln learned valuable lessons on leadership, mastering party politics, campaigning, conventions, understanding and using executive power, managing a cabinet, speechwriting and oratory, and—what would become his most enduring legacy—developing policies and rhetoric to match a constitutional vision that spoke to the monumental challenges of his time.
Without these mentors, Abraham Lincoln would likely have remained a small-town lawyer—and without Lincoln, the United States as we know it may not have survived. This book tells the unique story of how Lincoln emerged from obscurity and learned how to lead.
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I'm always interested in learning something new about a President, particularly the most famous and influential ones. This study of Lincoln focuses on his education "as a leader," meaning those who influenced Lincoln, the men and politicians he associated with and knew, and the books he read. But the book goes much further than that. Gerhardt sets Lincoln into history, into the political and historical events of his day, examining not only what Lincoln lived through but also how the events affected the man.
If you are looking for a popular history of Lincoln, this is not the book for you. It's really a legal and constitutional history, a study of the politics and political changes and arguments that pervade the US from the early 1820s through Lincoln's assassination. Nevertheless, it's an interesting approach to Lincoln and his times.
Beginning in the early 1830s, Gerhardt revisits the Missouri Compromise, the Indian Removal Acts of President Andrew Jackson, the Mexican American War, and Bloody Kansas. Slaves, Native Americans, immigrants, westward migration, and all the politics that surround these issues and events are fodder for this history book. It's a little dense in spots with minimal end-notes.
Thanks to the BookLoft of German Village (Columbus, OH) http://www.bookloft.com for an ARC to read and review.
A terrific read and one of the best in the many written about the greatest President in US history. Storytelling, when done well, pulls you in and makes you feel as if you were alongside of the main characters. Lincoln and his mentors are brought to life in Gerhardt’s terrific story. Thank you!
Terrible! No wonder America's children know so little. The distinguished author thinks that Lincoln was born on February 9, that you will find Fort Henry in Baltimore and that the Battle of Fredericksburg happened in December of 1861. So poorly edited that I am questioning of the Civil War ended in April of 1865. Don't waste your time!