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From noted Lincoln authority Harold Holzer comes the history of president Lincoln’s wholly modern relationship with the press.

From his earliest days, Abraham Lincoln devoured newspapers. As he started out in politics, he wrote editorials and letters to argue his case. He spoke to the public directly through the press. He even bought a German-language newspaper to appeal to that growing electorate in his state.

When war broke out and the nation was tearing itself apart, Lincoln authorized the most widespread censorship in the nation’s history, closing down newspapers that were “disloyal” and even jailing or exiling editors who opposed enlistment or sympathized with secession.

In Lincoln and the Power of the Press, Harold Holzer shows us an activist Lincoln, through journalists who covered him from his start to the night of his assassination. In a wholly original way, Holzer shows us politicized newspaper editors battling for power and a masterly president who used the press to speak directly to the people and shape the nation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The author persuasively illustrates the manner in which each used the other to influence citizen thought, public policy, and eventually the outcome of the Civil War.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Mr. Holzer’s focus is on Lincoln’s complex relationship with journalism in an age when increasing literacy, faster printing presses, speedier means of delivery, and the buccaneer entrepreneurship of the nation’s first press barons fed public demand for the news.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “The book colorfully details how Honest Abe was also something of a great manipulator, skillfully managing the press of 19th-century America in his efforts to end slavery and save the Union.…Holzer reminds us that, from its earliest days, the American press was more of a partisan rabble than a bastion of objective reporting…At the core of Holzer’s history is Lincoln’s parrying with the era’s three most powerful publishers.”

    USA TODAY

  • “Three books in one: a political biography of Lincoln, written by a scholar who is among the most prolific chroniclers of the 16th president, a superb and engaging portrayal of the American press during a crucial moment in its history and that of the nation, and a riveting account of the intersection between a man redefining the presidency and a press establishing its modern role.”

    Washington Post

  • “A monumental, richly detailed portrait of the world of 19th-century journalism and Lincoln’s relation to it…Full of fresh information and superb analysis, Holzer’s engaging, deeply researched book is destined to be recognized as a classic account of Civil War-era journalism and the president who both swayed it and came under its sway.”

     New York Times Book Review

  • “In this engaging history of one of the most divisive periods in American politics—the buildup to the Civil War—Lincoln historian Holzer, tracks how the great political clashes played out in the lively press of the day, creating not-so-delicate marriages between politicians and the journalists writing the ‘news.’"

    Kirkus Reviews 

  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014
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About the Author
Author Harold Holzer

Harold Holzer has authored, coauthored, and edited more than thirty books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. He serves as chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, and is a Roger Hertog Fellow at the New York Historical Society. Currently he is senior vice president for external affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lives in Rye, New York.