[Download] Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness By Joshua Wolf Shenk

Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

By: Joshua Wolf Shenk
Narrated by: Richard Davidson
Length: 11 hours
Release date: Sep 22, 2005
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (134 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

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Drawing on a wealth of his own research and the work of other Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success. Lincoln found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation's worst crisis in the "coping strategies" he developed over a lifetime of persevering through depressive episodes and personal tragedies.

With empathy and authority gained from his own experience with depression, Shenk crafts a nuanced, revelatory account of Lincoln and his legacy, and in the process unveils a wholly new perspective on how our greatest president guided America through its greatest turmoil.
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14 Responses to “[Download] Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness By Joshua Wolf Shenk”

  1. Crystle Patrice

    A Must For Anyone Who Has Suffered from Depression
    What did you love best about Lincoln’s Melancholy?

  2. Wanda Cinque

    You learn something new everyday!
    Absolutely great! Very important read for anybody who thinks they know everything
    about our greatest President and anybody who wishes to learn about mental illness.
    The book is told in sort of a lecture like presentation but then after a few minutes, you feel as if the writer( Mr. Shenk ) and the narrator (Mr. Davidson) are talking to YOU personally.
    I listened to this every day on my way to work and hated when I arrived there. Couldn’t wait to head home, to get back into this wonderful book.
    Well recommended!

  3. Thora Berardi

    A Different Perspective On A Great Man
    This book made me re-think everything I know about Lincoln and melancholy. Perhaps the great become great because of their melancholy, rather than in spite of it. There’s a depth of perception that can’t help but bring about a dampening of spirits, but that doesn’t mean one gives up or lose their determination to make the world a better place. I enjoyed every part of this book–the story, the uncovering of new information, the narration–and wouldn’t mind listening to it again. The subject of this biography is one that is loved the more times one reads about his life and experience.

  4. Pedro Annal

    Loved it!
    This book pulls back into account the oral history that too many historians discount. As an attorney I know that documented history can be over valued and too many times oral history may be more accurate than recorded history.
    This book also brings a psycho-analytical approach to both the oral and documented history of Lincoln.
    It is a MUST READ for any Lincoln or Civil War historian.
    It is hard to turn off.

  5. Floyd Wobbe

    Encouragement to Depressed Individuals
    This is a very readable book that gives an aspect of Lincoln, that out of all the possibly thousands of books written about him, fail to deal with. The description of his disease and response to it, paints a true picture of the depressed patients I have worked with over the past years. The author’s observations of Lincoln’s approach to coping with depression, using it as a strength, is marvelous and inspiring.

  6. Darwin8u

    Man is born broken. He lives by mending.
    “Don’t you find”, he said, “judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrow?”
    – A young Circassian rider to Leo Tolstoy, when presented with a photograph of Abraham Lincoln (originally told by Leo Tolstoy toe the New York World shortly before Tolstoy died

    Abraham Lincoln has reached one of those levels of recognition and reverence that is typically reserved for saints and prophets. His character, linked to his words and his dramatic life and death, all contribute to a continued and massive interest. A Wall Street Journal article on the Lincoln publishing industry noted:

    16,000: Number of books publishers estimate have been written about Abraham Lincoln.
    5,796: Number of Lincoln biographies
    249: Number of biographies on Lincoln published in 2009, the bicentennial of his birth
    42: Number of books Harold Holzer, a Lincoln historian, has written, edited, or co-edited on the 16th president
    2,972: Number of biographies of George Washington

    I understand the attraction a bit more than most. I own several dozen Lincoln books and biographies, I am six feet six inches tall, walk with an awkward gate, and also suffer from a disease that Abe Lincoln is thought by many to have had (Marfan Syndrome, see page 22 of this book). I share many physical proximities and many intellectual affinities with Lincoln (a love of politics, poetry, humanism, individualism, justice, and an affection for the Godly and a skepticism of the dogma of those who profess to speak for God). Anyway, I have been curious about this book for years.

    ‘Lincoln’s Melancholy’ attempts to: (1) investigate how “Lincoln’s melancholy manifested itself in his early life and young manhood and how it fits–and challenges–the diagnostic categories of modern psychiatry”, (2) show “what Lincoln did in response to his melancholy, the strategies he used to heal and help himself”, and (3) address “how Lincoln’s melancholy became intertwined with his mature character, ideas, and actions”. It is a three act play, a hero’s journey complete with crisis, struggle, and resolution/spiritual awakening.

    Shenk doesn’t sketch a perfect picture. There are many gaps and contradictions and mysteries that will always surround a true inquiry into the inner Lincoln. I think, however, the author was humble enough to understand the limits of his efforts. The book was short enough to not waste time and interesting enough to keep me reading. I think his theory of Lincoln’s melancholy is fascinating. It further complicates the story of a complicated, beautiful, and sad man who just may have ended up by fortune and misfortune being one of the greatest of all men.

  7. Elisabeth Ainsley

    Excellent writer. Excellent narrator.
    In this well-written, well-narrated book the listener is offered a great perspective on how and why Lincoln, because of his approach to his melancholy, accomplished so much in his life.

  8. Mervin S.

    Lincoln wouldn’t have been elected in our time
    This book asks a question which isn’t answered: was Lincoln depressed because he was astoundingly empathetic, or was he empathetic because he was depressed? It’s a question that can’t be answered, at least at this point in time, but it’s certainly worth the discussion.

    I think that this book is worthy of the read, even without knowing much of Lincoln’s background, although I can’t vouch for that – I spent part of my childhood in Illinois, and I didn’t even have to imagine Lincoln’s Springfiled home. I just had to think back on a fourth grade field trip.

    I was surprised to realize that severe depression – “melancholy” – was not hidden in Lincoln’s time. His friends knew when he went into melancholy, and organized watches and care. It would be called “intervention” now, or maybe he’d be on a 5150 hold in California. It’s interesting to think that one of the foundations of his personality was accepted in the 19th century, but so hidden and shameful now that he would never have become President. The stigma of severe depression is lifting somewhat now – for example Jesse Jackson Jr. was re-elected, even with the illness – but it hasn’t happened yet.

    I finished this book several months ago, and from time to time, I think over the unanswered question. That is the mark of a great book – one that stays in your mind long after it is done.

    I do have a criticism of the author’s style – sometimes Joshua Wolf Shrenk goes down a tangled, winding path in discussing the psychology, and it’s easy to forget the point he is trying to make. I had to rewind several times to figure that out.

    [If you found this review “helpful”, please let me know by clicking the “helpful” button.]

  9. Miquel Berlingeri

    Fascinating listen
    Wow–what an interesting book! This is the first book I’ve read about Lincoln, and it made me want to read more. If you suffer from depression, or know someone who does, there’s something pretty inspiring about this book, as it really shows some of the positive traits associated with depression along with the difficulties. It doesn’t seem to overstep what is known about Lincoln, and doesn’t come off like psycho-babble at any point.

    I love an engaging, nonfiction story that leaves me learning something new, and this definitely fits the bill. Highly recommend!

  10. Gail

    New information on Lincoln the man.
    I learned a lot about Lincoln’s personal life and trials. His depression and possible bipolar problems make his achievements even that more remarkable. His use of humor to make himself feel better reminded me of Robin Williams and helped me understand Robin’s suicide a little better. Not anything I ever would have thought of. This is a very insightful book and I think would be appreciated by anyone interested in Lincoln.

  11. Mallory B.

    I found this book to be very informative–things I never knew about Lincoln and the demons he dealt with all of his life. The author implements current medical knowledge to explain the torture Lincoln’s mind endured during a time when not much was known about depression. Well worth the listen!

  12. Dr.

    Lincoln’s Melancholy
    I really enjoyed this book!! Even GREAT men can have shortfalls & STILL be great!!! They can become icons in our culture.

  13. Clarice Szeto

    Well handled subject
    The author has handled this subject well. Overall however the book could stand some editing. The topic is covered too well and often redundantly.

  14. Emogene Huor

    This was very inspiring and also motivating.
    This book touched on how much President Lincoln suffered with depression and yet he overcame it

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