Lincoln's Melancholy

  • by Joshua Wolf Shenk
  • Narrated by Richard M. Davidson
  • 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Drawing on a wealth of his own research and the work of other Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success. Lincoln found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation's worst crisis in the "coping strategies" he developed over a lifetime of persevering through depressive episodes and personal tragedies.With empathy and authority gained from his own experience with depression, Shenk crafts a nuanced, revelatory account of Lincoln and his legacy, and in the process unveils a wholly new perspective on how our greatest president guided America through its greatest turmoil.

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What the Critics Say

"This is sensitive history, with important implications for the present." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Lincoln was depressed - who knew?

We live in an age of ease and comfort and ironically increasing depression by trying to keep that lifestyle growing. I found the documentation of how Lincoln dealt with his depression using humor and plain old dogged determination explained clinically well by a mental health professional very refreshing. How Lincoln handled depression without medication hopefully may give strength to the many people who currently suffer from what is now recognized as an often chronic and very widespread condition. This great listen of a book only added to my respect for Lincoln as a president and as an individual. I think it should be required reading for anyone suffering from what Lincoln himself referred to as The Black Dog - which by recognizing as a condition he could help to try to distance himself from it or at least understand it and thus carry on during one of the most stressful times in our country's history. You see stress can cause depression in some and what could have been more stressful than our own Civil War?
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- Scott

Great Idea, Good Development

The idea that Lincoln experienced a major mental disorder throughout his life matches my sense of Lincoln as a "man of constant sorrows". The argument that he transformed his mental condition into a source of strength and resilience matches his record of performance. This book provides valuable insights into how this transformation occurred, and into how Lincoln's condition emerged from and was fostered by the culture of his age.

The organization is generally chronological, but with frequent tangents into cultural and psychological theory . . . on occasion, I found it hard to figure out where the author was going, but his tangents are usually well presented. He is also very strong in reviewing how different biographers and historians have viewed Lincoln's personality, and how those views have changed over time.

The reader is good and clear. My only real negative: the producers put disconnected music in at odd points, often not related to major breaks in the discussion, which interferes with an otherwise good listen.
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- Alex

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-22-2005
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books