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Abraham Lincoln is an American hero who has fascinated researchers and biographers for more than a century. That's exactly why Michael Burlingame, the May Buckley Sadowski '19 Emeritus Professor of History at Connecticut College, thought everything important about America's favorite president had already been published. He was wrong.
"As soon as I started looking at unpublished sources, I found new material," Burlingame said in a recent interview with CC: Connecticut College Magazine. "I kept on poking around in manuscript collections and old newspapers and eventually discovered an enormous amount of new information."
Burlingame spent more than a decade compiling all of that new information into a comprehensive Lincoln biography that Publisher's Weekly says "supersedes all other biographies." Published in conjunction with the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, "Abraham Lincoln: A Life" quickly garnered critical acclaim as a must-read.
"The two-volume set is being heralded as the ultimate new biography of Lincoln, an essential work to be used by all future biographers of the 16th president," writes Anne Byle of Grand Rapids Press.
And Lev Grossman of Time says, "Burlingame is a towering figure in Lincoln scholarship, and students of the 16th president have been waiting for this book for years. For all his learning - Burlingame may know more about Lincoln and his era than anyone in the world - his take on his subject is fresh, and he doesn't gloss over Lincoln's less appealing attributes. Abraham Lincoln comes as close to being the definitive biography as anything the world has seen in decades."
Burlingame was on campus to talk about his book during Connecticut College's annual alumni reunion this past weekend. Other highlights of Connecticut College's reunion, which drew more than 1,000 alumni and guests to campus, included faculty discussions, concerts, a lobster bake and a parade through campus.