Friday, May 13

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Sidney Blumenthal

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Sidney Blumenthal discusses A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1849

This event includes a book signing.

$5 Tickets on sale April 19 at 9am, online pre-sales (ticket + book) on sale now at Harvard.com. Unable to attend? Order the book(s) or pre-order a signed copy from Harvard Book Store. No Brattle Passes.

 

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome senior adviser to Hillary Clinton SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL for a discussion of his latest book, A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1849.

About A Self-Made Man

hbs-blumenthal-bookThe first of a multi-volume history of Lincoln as a political genius—from his obscure beginnings to his presidency, assassination, and the overthrow of his post-Civil War dreams of Reconstruction. This first volume traces Lincoln from his painful youth, describing himself as “a slave,” to his emergence as the man we recognize as Abraham Lincoln.

From his youth as a “newsboy,” a voracious newspaper reader, Lincoln became a free thinker, reading Tom Paine, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible, and studying Euclid to sharpen his arguments as a lawyer.

Lincoln’s anti-slavery thinking began in his childhood amidst the Primitive Baptist antislavery dissidents in backwoods Kentucky and Indiana, the roots of his repudiation of Southern Christian pro-slavery theology. Intensely ambitious, he held political aspirations from his earliest years. Obsessed with Stephen Douglas, his political rival, he battled him for decades. Successful as a circuit lawyer, Lincoln built his team of loyalists. Blumenthal reveals how Douglas and Jefferson Davis acting together made possible Lincoln’s rise.

Blumenthal describes a socially awkward suitor who had a nervous breakdown over his inability to deal with the opposite sex. His marriage to the upper class Mary Todd was crucial to his social aspirations and his political career. Blumenthal portrays Mary as an asset to her husband, a rare woman of her day with strong political opinions.

Blumenthal’s robust portrayal is based on prodigious research of Lincoln’s record and of the period and its main players. It reflects both Lincoln’s time and the struggle that consumes our own political debate.

Praise

“Lincoln again? Not to worry. Just stand back and let this first volume of a planned four-volume treatment reveal its glowing qualities. . . . A fascinating perspective during a presidential election cycle.” —Booklist

“[Blumenthal] delves deeply into the incremental building of Lincoln’s anti-slavery views . . . A consummate political observer keenly dissects the machinations of Lincoln’s incredible rise to power.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In this compelling first volume of what will no doubt be a landmark biography of perhaps our greatest president, Sidney Blumenthal brings his formidable storytelling and analytical gifts to the task of creating a lasting portrait of Lincoln. In this Blumenthal succeeds wonderfully well, giving readers an engaging, clear-eyed, and insightful account of Lincoln’s early years, clearly charting the sixteenth president’s intellectual and political development. The book is at once timely and timeless.” —Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power and Thomas Jefferson

Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

 


hbs-blumenthal-authorSidney Blumenthal is the former assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, and senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. He has been a national staff reporter for The Washington Post, Washington editor and staff writer for The New Yorker, senior writer for The New Republic, and contributed to numerous additional publications. His books include the bestselling The Clinton Wars, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment, and The Permanent Campaign. Among his films, he was the executive producer of the Academy Award- and Emmy-winning Taxi to the Dark Side.

Photo Credit: Ralph Alswing