Author: Russell Freedman
Teen Reviewer: Tim Wood
Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship, by Russell Freedman, is a great book about not only the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, but also the events that surrounded their relationship, mainly the Civil War. The book starts off with Douglass being about to meet President Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War, then shifts to Douglass' story of being a freed slave. The book then proceeds to go into detail about Lincoln's early life, including his upbringing, law practice, and political career. After explaining the backgrounds of Lincoln and Douglass, Freedman moves into how they met and how their friendship grew in the midst of the Civil War. This book explains not only a lot about Civil War history, but it also explains how these two men shaped the course of the nation in the midst of one of its greatest struggles.
Being an avid reader of history, especially Civil War history, I enjoyed this book very much. One thing I thought the book did exceptionally well was to provide details and quotations throughout the book. Another thing I liked was that the book provided the background necessary to understand the relationship between Douglass and Lincoln. For instance, The book states in a few places that the two men had a very similar upbringing in that they were both self-taught and read many of the same books. Without this information, it becomes difficult to understand their conversations later in their lives. One thing that the author could have done was to provide citations on the pages directly because of the amount of quotes he used. As I was reading I started asking myself if every single quote in the book is legitimate. But in the same respect the author did provide a selected bibliography and notes about the quotations at the end of the book. All in all, the book served its purpose by showing the relationship of Lincoln and Douglass and how it shaped themselves and the nation, and I learned quite a bit about Civil War history myself.