Set in the early 1860s, Old Abe chronicles the ascendency of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the United States of America, through the turbulence of the Civil War and his ultimate assassination from the perspective of Lincoln himself. Beginning in 1860, the reader is immersed in the life of Abraham Lincoln from a personal viewpoint that brings the man to life in a very human manner. Through arguments with his wife Mary, the tragic death of his young son Willie, the joy of victories on the battlefield, and the countless mundane interactions that make up everyday life, Cribb details Lincoln’s thought process as accurately as possible through the copious usage of primary and secondary sources.
Old Abe does many things well and engages the reader from start to finish. Cribb’s extremely thorough research ensures that the book is historically accurate and that the customs of the time are appropriately detailed. While there are certain historical decisions that Lincoln made that the author glosses over, such as Lincoln’s choices of Vice Presidential candidates, which are hardly mentioned, by and large these omissions are not detrimental to the flow of the book, which moves along at a steady clip. Overall, this is a fantastic novel that immediately grips the imagination and makes the reader feel as if they have journeyed through the peaks and valleys of his presidential life and have come to know this historical great on a personal level.