By Michael Burlingame

In 1952, Benjamin P. Thomas, who served as the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Association from 1932 to 1936, published Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, which to this day remains the best single-volume life of the sixteenth president. Mark E. Neely Jr., who won a Pulitzer Prize for his monograph, The Fate of Liberty: Abra-ham Lincoln and Civil Liberties, deemed Thomas’s book “wonderful,” a “masterpiece,” an “elegant and balanced synthesis” resting on “the best research” and written in a “fluid and readable style.”

Abraham Lincoln: A Biography is read-able indeed. James Hurt, a literary scholar, recalled that upon rereading the biography decades after its release, he was surprised by “how short it seemed,” for “the organization is so straightforward and the style so bare and lucid that it moves quickly and purposefully.”

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