Pulitzer Prize Winners
Winning Books about Abraham Lincoln
The Pulitzer Prize is awarded by Columbia University on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board for achievements in journalism, literature and musical composition.
The books listed on this page are Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists in the category of History, whose subject is Abraham Lincoln (not the Civil War in general or a subject relating to Lincoln's times). Consequently, this is not a comprehensive list of Pulitzer Prize History winners.
Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History
John Fabian Witt
The history of the laws of war and its eminent cast of characters—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Lincoln—as they crafted the articles that would change the course of world history.
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
W.W. Norton & Company
A definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. "Lincoln is no paragon in Foner's searching portrait, but something more essential--a politician with an open mind and a restless conscience," says Publisher's Weekly.
Lincoln in American Memory
Merrill D. Peterson
Oxford University Press
The book is a chronological recollection of how Abraham Lincoln as played an integral role in the American memory. Publisher's Weekly says, "From the assassination onward, Peterson writes, five intertwined themes dominated interpretation of Lincoln: Savior of the Union, Great Emancipator, Man of the People, the First American and the Self-made Man."
Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America
Simon & Schuster
Lincoln at Gettysburg is a careful deconstruction of the Gettysburg Address. Garry Wills shows the influence of early Greek thought in this short address, as well as the influence of 19th century Greek Revivalism exemplified by the primary speaker at the Gettysburg cemetery dedication, Edward Everett, and the Transcendentalist movement of Theodore Parker and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Wills argues that Abraham Lincoln's choosing of the Declaration of Independence rather than the U.S. Consititution as his bedrock for political thought was revolutionary.
Garry Wills was a former professor of Greek at Yale University, the school from which he earned a Ph.D. in 1961.
The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties
Mark E. Neely, Jr.
Oxford University Press
The Fate of Liberty is a very in-depth look at how the policies of the Lincoln administration affected civil liberties in the United States. For example, Neely explores the fact that Lincoln is the only President to have suspended the writ of habeas corpus. He calls this act a well-intentioned attempt to deal with unforeseen events, including the threat to Washington, the occupation of hostile Confederate territory, and the outcry in the North against the first draft in U.S. history.
Though this book is less about Abraham Lincoln than the others listed on this page, it is an area that any Lincoln scholar will want to study because the debate over Lincoln's policies related to civil liberties and his interpretation of the role of Commander-in-Chief rages even today.
The Fate of Liberty was also a finalist for the Lincoln Prize, 1991.
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years
800 pages for The Prarie Years and The War Years in a single volume
Carl Sandburg was a Lincoln enthusiast who had collected Lincoln material for 30 years before publishing the two-volume work, The Prairie Years, in 1926. It was his first finanical success. He continued his literary work on Abraham Lincoln with a four-volume published in 1939: The War Years.
The books were the basis for Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938) and David Wolper's six-part TV drama, Sandburg's Lincoln (1974), starring Hal Holbrook. It was criticized at the time because it was not based on original research, but it has held up as a great literary work on Lincoln.
Carl Sandburg's Biography, Andyy Barr Productions, 1998, http://carl-sandburg.com/biography.htm
The Pulitzer Prizes for History, http://www.pulitzer.org/bycat/History