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.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Abraham Lincoln was born in Mardin County, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809. The Lincolns moved to Knob Creek, below Louisville, two years...

(The entire section is 250 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In his article "Pursuing the Pleasure Principle," Freedman explains that as a writer of nonfiction books for young adults he aims to provide...

(The entire section is 394 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Russell Freedman has written other histories of the nineteenth century, and his knowledge of Lincoln's era is impressive. He has thoroughly...

(The entire section is 413 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. In your opinion, is Freedman justified in believing that the photos in this book are as important as the text?

2. Which of...

(The entire section is 217 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Lincoln developed a prose style that has made some of his writings part of world literature. Examine his most famous writings. How did he...

(The entire section is 176 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Russell Freedman has published four other photobiographies. His Immigrant Kids is a tribute to the history of his own family, which...

(The entire section is 121 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Dempsey, Frank J. "Russell Freedman." Horn Book 64 (July/August 1988): 452-456. A biographical sketch by a close friend of Freedman....

(The entire section is 205 words.)