Magazine March 11, 2019, Issue

Lightweight Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln in 1865 (Alexander Gardner via Library of Congress)
Becoming Lincoln, by William W. Freehling (University of Virginia Press, 384 pp., $29.95)

‘Lincoln’s monumental life was all about becoming,” announces William W. Freehling in his new biography of the 16th president. By becoming, Freehling means that there was never a single, steadfast Lincoln, always carrying around in his back pocket the principles and plans that eventually became the Emancipation Proclamation. Freehling’s Lincoln is a changeling, looking all through his life for the wave (whether political, economic, or professional) that would finally bring him to a successful shore.

This way of interpreting Abraham Lincoln has a strong kinship with the Progressive biographers of Lincoln, from Albert Beveridge to Eric Foner, who have expressed

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Allen C. Guelzo — Mr. Guelzo is the Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Back from the Brink

Steven F. Hayward reviews The Brink: President Reagan and the Nuclear War Scare of 1983, by Marc Ambinder, 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink, by Taylor Downing, ...


The Week

The Week

We are surprised that no one has hit upon the obvious solution to the Jussie Smollett mystery: Brett Kavanaugh did it.


“Sometimes, sometimes the highway opens up. Among the present passes as we go…”


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