Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Russell Freedman’s Lincoln: A Photobiography is written in a chronological order that, after the introductory chapter, begins with Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood on frontier homesteads in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois and that concludes with his assassination in Washington, D.C. The first few chapters include accounts of Lincoln’s boyhood, his experiences as a country lawyer, and his marriage to Mary Todd. The focus then changes to Lincoln’s political career, with a special emphasis on his political and presidential years.

Freedman develops the issues that Lincoln faced with slavery and the approach of the Civil War. For example, in the chapter “Half Slave and Half Free,” Freedman explores Lincoln’s position on slavery by citing early comments about that institution and by developing a sense of Lincoln’s reactions to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, introduced by rival Stephen A. Douglas, and the Dred Scott decision, handed down by the United States Supreme Court. Freedman describes how Lincoln spent two weeks studying the Dred Scott decision so that he could argue against it, and the author includes numerous comments made by Lincoln. In the chapters that focus on the war, Freedman examines both Lincoln’s strong feelings about the need to maintain the Union and his dismay at the conflict’s human sacrifice. Freedman includes numerous photographs that show the developing strain on the president as he faces his opposition and the issues...

(The entire section is 500 words.)