• And There Was Light

  • Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle
  • By: Jon Meacham
  • Narrated by: Jon Meacham
  • Length: 17 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (525 ratings)

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And There Was Light

By: Jon Meacham
Narrated by: Jon Meacham
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham chronicles the life of Abraham Lincoln, charting how—and why—he confronted secession, threats to democracy, and the tragedy of slavery to expand the possibilities of America.

“In his captivating new book, Jon Meacham has given us the Lincoln for our time.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

A president who governed a divided country has much to teach us in a twenty-first-century moment of polarization and political crisis. Hated and hailed, excoriated and revered, Abraham Lincoln was at the pinnacle of American power when implacable secessionists gave no quarter in a clash of visions bound up with money, race, identity, and faith. In him we can see the possibilities of the presidency as well as its limitations.

At once familiar and elusive, Lincoln tends to be seen as the greatest of American presidents—a remote icon—or as a politician driven more by calculation than by conviction. This illuminating new portrait gives us a very human Lincoln—an imperfect man whose moral antislavery commitment, essential to the story of justice in America, began as he grew up in an antislavery Baptist community; who insisted that slavery was a moral evil; and who sought, as he put it, to do right as God gave him to see the right.

This book tells the story of Lincoln from his birth on the Kentucky frontier in 1809 to his leadership during the Civil War to his tragic assassination in 1865: his rise, his self-education, his loves, his bouts of depression, his political failures, his deepening faith, and his persistent conviction that slavery must end. In a nation shaped by the courage of the enslaved of the era and by the brave witness of Black Americans, Lincoln’s story illustrates the ways and means of politics in a democracy, the roots and durability of racism, and the capacity of conscience to shape events.

©2022 Jon Meacham (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“So much more than another account of Abraham Lincoln’s life, Jon Meacham’s profound new biography dives into Lincoln’s very soul, and the result is one of the most compelling and absorbing portraits ever crafted. Meacham’s Lincoln thinks deeply, reads widely, and continually revises his relationships with both humankind and God. I have never before read a book that places Lincoln not only in his chosen milieu of politics, but within the realms of faith and destiny. This is a book of such high drama and deep emotion that it instantly takes its place at the forefront of the Lincoln literature.”—Harold Holzer, Winner of the Lincoln Prize, author of Lincoln and the Power of the Press

“Jon Meacham’s masterful, highly readable biography of Lincoln is a most worthy companion to his Pulitzer Prize-winning American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. In an era when autocracy is on the march, this timely book sheds a bright light on Lincoln’s role as a paladin and vindicator of democracy, which he defined not only as ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people,’ but also as ‘government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men—to lift artificial weights from all shoulders—to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all—to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.’”—Michael Burlingame, Lincoln Prize-winning author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life 

“Jon Meacham has given us a Lincoln for our perilous times, a story where slavery and racism are not an afterthought but are critical to understanding the man, the moment, and the contradictions at the heart of this fragile Republic. You will not find any recourse to myth or legend in these pages. With the elegance of his pen and the power of story, Meacham draws a portrait of a complex man—hesitant, practical, decent—who answered the call of history. And There Was Light offers us an all-too-human exemplar for our current storms.”—Eddie Glaude, Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies, Princeton University, and author of Begin Again and Democracy in Black

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What listeners say about And There Was Light

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A Winner

Jon Meacham has a way of crafting his books in a way that fully lays out the environment of the times on many levels. Soul of the Nation gave me hope for the future that we will survive this mess we are in and And There Was Light underscores for me that democracy is messy but survivable. Lincoln was a truly remarkable man and leader influenced by his environment as we all are. However his groundedness anchored him to what is right and what is truth. He sometimes waivered but never faltered. I also love that Meacham is the narrator as his voice is so calming.

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Masterpiece

I’ve read a number of books on Lincoln but none like this . I believe we can now put this vreat man to rest as there’s nothing further to say about this man’s life & death . Jon Meacham has given mankind a gift for the ages to be savored & studied for ever & ever . Amen

6 people found this helpful

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New insights into the remarkable, complex 16th President

I have always been a fan of Abraham Lincoln’s. This book gave me a new insight and reason to respect and admire the man and the leader, even more. It reveals the human as well as the leader in new light that reveals a moral compass, often missing in today’s politics.

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Really enjoying this

Incredibly well written and researched. Always fun to hear another angle on Abe. Yeah you feel like you’re on a first name basis after listening to this book. My only gripe is the monotone author maybe isn’t the best suited for a self-narrative.I find my mind drifting away too easily

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A preachy version of Lincoln's life.

Anyone who loves America should read as much as he/she can find about our nation's fine role model, Abraham Lincoln, and Meacham's treatment is very much a hagiography. But for the prevalence of quotes from Christian preachers that were Lincoln's contemporaries, this book is satisfyingly rich in primary sources of many points of view of our 16th president. Meacham reads his own book, however, with a tone of voice that oozes with paternalism and might turn off someone who is not a devout Christian. Fortunately, there were many anecdotes that were charming and rich additions to Lincoln's life story. These were gratifying to collect, like pretty shells one finds on a walk on the beach.

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Meacham Is Great

Having read a biography of every American President up through Obama and a half dozen or so biographies of Lincoln - I would sayAnd There Was Light ranks among the best. Perhaps it is because Lincoln’s story is so amazing or his times were so demanding, but this was a “can’t stop listening” audio book. Meacham himself reading it was certainly a plus.

It could also be that the parallels in that age and our own are worth paying attention to.

It is a fabulous book every thoughtful American should read - on both sides of the great political divide.

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A masterpiece !

What a beautifully written and marvelously narrated book.
This wonderful work will live forever.
Bravo!

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Lincoln from Mortal to Immortal

Very educational and listening to the narration by Jon Meacham himself was a wonderful bonus.

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A delight in listening…

Jon Mecham reads in his clear voice his own words, and as always they are thoughtfully chosen. Our country has been tried in the past and come through it. There is so much to digest that I just might listen again… thanks Jon.

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Thank you Mr Lincoln!

This book clearly demonstrates the power of critical thinking and how this gifted man communicated it to the people of his time. He started us on a path that continues today is an attempt to strive up to the standards written in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence.

Thank you Mr Meecham for your service in writing this.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-03-22

Lincoln with an overtly religious spin

Lincoln was not a Christian but I suspect Jon Meacham is because he does all he can to portray Lincoln as, if not actually a Christian, that would be too much, a God-fearing man. Lincoln was a politician who knew how to and was prepared to cater to popular beliefs. Lincoln talked of god the way Einstein did. The religious spin imbalances this book, but, if you can ignore that Lincoln's was a wonderful life and a magnificent man and his story is well told.

1 person found this helpful