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I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War - Jerome Charyn

Rare is it for any reader to chance upon a novel that succeeds beyond expectation in eliciting his/her excitement and capturing his/her interest with the first sentence or paragraph. Well, 'I am Abraham' is such a novel, richly told, very well written, and largely expressed in Lincoln's own voice.

Lincoln goes on to take the reader back to his humble beginnings in New Salem (Illinois), where he arrived penniless and poor, yet hungry to improve his lot in life. In all, he spends 5 years there, going from serving as a store clerk, postmaster, ferrying flatboats downriver to New Orleans and back, service as a captain in the local militia during the brief Black Hawk War, and work as a railsplitter. Lincoln then moves to Springfield, where he apprentices himself to the law, serves in the local legislature, marries and has a family, serves one term in Congress, maintains a private law practice with his friend William Herndon, and keeps a hand in politics. Though losing the 1858 Senate race in Illinois to Stephen Douglas, Lincoln becomes famous as a result of the 7 debates he had with Douglas. Two years later, he is invited to New York City, where he makes a speech at Cooper Union that leads to him becoming a candidate for President for the new Republican Party, and through a close election, President of the United States. All the while, Lincoln's voice comes alive, so much so that the reader feels very much a part of Lincoln's world in matters great and small.

"I Am Abraham" has all the hallmarks of what makes a novel great. (Next to Gore Vidal's novel "Lincoln", it makes Abraham Lincoln live again.) It's also one of the BEST novels I've read thus far in 2015 and for that reason, comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.