Mar 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Jon Meacham's "very human Lincoln"

Mike Allen
Cover of Lincoln book
Cover: Random House

Pulitzer-winning biographer Jon Meacham will portray what he calls "a very human Lincoln" in "And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle," out Oct. 25.

Meacham told me: "I wanted to learn all I could about a man who confronted crises of democracy and of justice and managed, however imperfectly and incompletely, to bend the arc of history toward the good."

The book chronicles Lincoln's moral evolution as he expanded America's possibilities — while confronting secession, slavery and threats to democracy.

  • "A president who governed a divided country has much to teach us in a 21st century moment of polarization and political crisis," Meacham said in a statement.
  • "Lincoln was president when implacable secessionists gave no quarter in a clash of visions inextricably bound up with money, power, race, identity, and faith. He was hated and haled, excoriated and revered — and in him we can see the possibilities of the presidency as well as its limitations."

The title was inspired by the words of Frederick Douglass, who was enslaved and rose to become a celebrated orator, adviser and abolitionist:

I do not despair of this country; the fiat of the Almighty — "Let there be Light" — has not yet spent its force.

Preorder here.

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