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Publisher's Summary

A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln's White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants.
Lincoln's official secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president's immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address - and they wrote about it after his death.
In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to establish Lincoln's heroic legacy and to preserve a narrative that saw slavery - not states' rights - as the sole cause of the Civil War. As Joshua Zeitz shows, the image of a humble man with uncommon intellect who rose from obscurity to become a storied wartime leader and emancipator is very much their creation.
Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln's Boys is part political drama and part coming-of-age tale - a fascinating story of friendship, politics, war, and the contest over history and remembrance.
©2014 Joshua Zeitz (P)2014 Penguin Audiobook
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Critic Reviews

"What a wonderful, welcome book. Zeitz has pulled off a difficult task - revealing how the myth of Lincoln came to be without distorting the true greatness of our extraordinary 16th President." (Ken Burns, filmmaker)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By James on 04-06-15

Best Publicists since Mathew, Mark, Luke, & John

What about Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance did you like?

Malcolm Hillgartner a brilliant narrator. His voice brings both sparkle and resonance to his performance. It was a true pleasure to listen to him. His credits include AudioFile Best Voice award in 2013 for Biography and Fiction for Kissinger to name but one honor.

Any additional comments?

No political leader since the father of our country, George Washington, holds a more revered position in our pantheon of political leaders then Abraham Lincoln. The work of his official secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay are the chief apostils of the Lincoln image we have today. It is their work that crushed mean spirited or uninformed biographies that sought to capitalize on post assassination interest, and that burnished his image to the saintly figure we have today, embodied in the Lincoln memorial. If Washington is the god head of our country, then Lincoln is the sacrificial lamb who paid for the sin of slavery in the Constitution. His death and the deaths of 620,000 Civil War soldiers paid the price to expiate the sin of slavery from the Constitution through the 13th amendment and make a down payment on expiation from the body politic. The struggle goes on and other martyrs have joined Lincoln.

This book parallels the stories of the lives of John Hay and John Nicolay as they pursued their quite different lives after Lincoln’s death. During this time they maintained a friendship and had an ultimate goal to write the definitive history of Lincoln. The advantage these two authors had is that they retained the presidential papers of Abraham Lincoln. These papers formed the irrefutable reference base they cited to write their 10 volume history entitled, “Abraham Lincoln: A History” published in 1890. These volumes were a must have in every decent library, public or privet, for the next 100 years. The 10 volume set became the gospel definitive word on Lincoln. Most subsequent works on Lincoln are dependent of this predecessor work for their credibility.

The book also discusses some of the lessor biographies that show Lincoln in a more human and in less attractive or saintly light. Those books are based on half remembered stories from Lincoln’s youth from interviewed home town people who knew him as a youth or from a former early law partner or from newspaper or campaign archives.

Today we are able to see Lincoln as less than a saint without disparaging his accomplishments. Most saints do have a secular past and yet, when push came to shove, made the right call in the middle of adversity. That is what makes them worthy of saintly reverence. So if Lincoln or Saint Augustin had a spotted past, so what. It is what they did when time and events presented the right opportunity that count. Thus, for my money, Hay and Nicolay got it right; and this is the story of how all it happened. They were two lowly civil servant functionaries, earning a living, making their lives, who championed the mythic image of Lincoln in their signature work. I highly recommend this book.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Evan on 10-06-16

Great book with a lot new information

Good book with good insight in the Lincoln white house from two men that knew him best.

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