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Download Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness Audiobook, by Joshua Wolf Shenk Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,428 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joshua Wolf Shenk Narrator: Richard M. Davidson Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2005 ISBN: 9781598871104
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This myth-shattering work of interpretive history chronicles Lincoln's life-long struggles with depression. In the days before Prozac and psychology, he harnessed his depression and found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation's worst cr Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Intellectually energetic…By treating Lincoln from this angle, Shenk does gain a dimension that not all Lincoln books achieve.”

    Washington Post

  • “It contains some extremely beautiful prose and fine political rhetoric and leaves one feeling close to Lincoln, a considerable accomplishment.”

    New York Magazine

  • “A fresh, fascinating, provocative psychohistory.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[Shenk argues] with uncommon common sense, a rare understanding of historical context, and a close reading of the primary sources.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A significant contribution to the study of Lincoln and his battle with depression that will resonate with contemporary Americans…Inspirational.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “This is sensitive history, with important implications for the present.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Compelling…An estimable contribution to the Lincoln literature.”

    Booklist

  • Lincoln’s Melancholy is an extraordinary story, for the depth of its scholarship and the lure of its style.”

    Mike Wallace, cohost of 60 Minutes

  • “Lincoln not only coped with his depression, he harnessed it. Joshua Wolf Shenk [explains how] masterfully and memorably.”

    Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

  • “A profoundly human and psychologically important examination of the melancholy that so pervaded Lincoln’s life…Remarkable.”

    Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and author of An Unquiet Mind

  • One of the 2005 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annelise | 2/20/2014

    " I have always had a fascination with Lincoln but didn't know much about him. I also have a difficult time expressing any interest in history. This book, however, was fascinating. There was so much information about Lincoln before his presidency and also about many common mental illnesses. I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Javier | 2/19/2014

    " A great read--Shenk posits that Lincoln was clinically depressed for most of his adult life, and he finds that this depression helped Lincoln achieve things he might not have been able to otherwise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tess | 2/18/2014

    " I'm not as into historical biographies as my love is but he after he read this and talked about it, I dug in. It's fascinating to see a different side of Lincoln that isn't talked about, his mental health struggles and dramas. It's not written in a gossipy manner, the analysis and how it related to his choices is truly interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marianne Meyers | 2/13/2014

    " I found this book very moving and insightful. The concept of depression and living with it was quite different in the mid-1850s than what it is considered today. We all know what a great man Lincoln was, but he was that way because of the pain of his life and found a way to live with it with honesty and humility. A lesson in living for all of us. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trula Kellermann | 1/31/2014

    " A dramatic reassessment of the life and era of Abraham Lincoln argues that America's sixteenth president suffered from depression and explains how Lincoln used the ailment and the coping strategies he had developed to deal with the crises of the Civil War and personal tragedy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sheri Hansen | 1/29/2014

    " Team of Rivals made me absolutely fascinated by Lincoln, so I read a whole stretch of books about him. This one was not my favorite. I felt like the author really wanted us to believe that every decision he made was based on depression. It didn't feel well-researched, and the same tidbits of language were used over and over again to reinforce a point. I'm sure he did suffer with some level of melancholy, but I don't think it was the only thing that made him who he was. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mikey | 1/9/2014

    " Good book, really interesting subject, maybe not the most eloquently written. Still, did you know Lincoln shared a bed, held hands, and talked about his feelings with another dude?! And, he was really really sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Troy | 12/30/2013

    " Some interesting insights about depression and how Lincoln chose to handle it; what I found most interesting was the cultural differences in the attitude of depression. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathy Freeman | 12/29/2013

    " There are parts of this I remember so clearly. When Lincoln is in a mood and goes for a walk in the woods a neighbor quietly follows him just to make sure he is safe. If only our neighbors were like that today we might have more candidates for President. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 12/21/2013

    " History and psychology majors' love child. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bartley | 12/19/2013

    " I enjoyed the author's views about 'melancholy' and how such a condition was viewed in the 1800's as opposed to the 1900's and today. Overall, it was a fairly good book and a well needed break from fiction for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marianne Kwiatkowski-Yee | 12/16/2013

    " This book is very illuminating. I wish we had more great men like Lincoln who were willing to admit their shortcomings, and face them head-on as Lincoln did. He would never have made it to the primaries in today's politics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paula Matuskey | 12/14/2013

    " How Lincoln's depression fueled his strength and commitment during the Civil War. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 12/6/2013

    " Loved this book. Very interesting, well written, and moving. I just wish I had read another biography of Lincoln first so I had a better idea of the basics of his life. I may read one now so I can appreciate this book even more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darcie | 11/21/2013

    " What can I say? He's my man. Can't get enough Lincoln. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hillarystephenson | 11/19/2013

    " gave me additional insights on what lincoln faced as he suffered often debilitating depressions throughout his life. this book also put a different spin on his relationship with his wife than is typical.... not so "long-suffering." i could read fifty books about this man. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dennis Henn | 8/9/2012

    " "How depression challenged a president and fueled his greatness," the second part of the title, accurately describes this readable biography. And I thought I knew most of the stuff about Lincoln. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eileen | 4/15/2012

    " How people can deal with depression creatively. However I feel this book didn't go into enough depth about Lincoln's psyche. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chhun | 11/13/2011

    " .....A dead man whose soul was always fighting. He fought for freedom.... All men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics. He hated a country which pretended to love liberty. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Dobbs | 9/24/2011

    " A gorgeous book, with an original take supported by meticulous research and deep, original thought. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Seth Childress | 6/14/2011

    " This is quite possibly the most well written book I have ever read. Shenk's writting brings you in to Licoln's life and gives you an in depth look in to his emotional episodes. An outstanding book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maxwell Forsyth | 4/13/2011

    " I learned that Lincoln had a higher-pitched voice than I originally imagined. He also cried often, and people didn't seem too off-put by that fact. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby | 3/21/2011

    " A bit difficult at times, but well worth the effort. Shenk weaves a biography with a history of depression to illuminate both. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bcoghill | 2/27/2011

    " An excellent, layman's look, at the mental health fields knowledge regarding mental health today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Teardra | 2/1/2011

    " Wow. Just wow. If ever a man were to be a beacon of hope and encouragement to those suffering from depression, this would be it. A compelling argument is made that Lincoln did not lead the country through its greatest crisis in spite of depression but BECAUSE of his depression. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claire | 1/22/2011

    " Lincoln was definitely our most emo president. Unrequited crushes? Check. Slightly embarrassing nature poetry? Check. Black skinny pants? Check. A great read on how a rain cloud can still do amazing, moving things. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Connie | 12/22/2010

    " Was a fairly good book on the life of Abe...was a little disappointd in it though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Scott | 12/22/2010

    " Too much psychology for my taste. I did like the discussion of sources in the epilogue. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paula | 11/27/2010

    " How Lincoln's depression fueled his strength and commitment during the Civil War. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica | 7/21/2010

    " Incredibly interesting, learned so much about Lincoln and how his life was affected by this "melancholy". If you like history or psychology, I would definitely recommend it! "

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About the Author
Author Joshua Wolf Shenk

Joshua Wolf Shenk is an essayist and independent scholar whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and in the national bestseller Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression. He has written for the New Yorker, Harper’s, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Mother Jones, and other publications. He has been a correspondent for the New Republic, the Economist, and U.S. News & World Report. A contributing editor to the Washington Monthly and a faculty member at New School University, Shenk serves on the advisory council of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and consulted on the History Channel’s film Lincoln. He lives in Brooklyn.

About the Narrator

Richard M. Davidson is an actor and Earphones Award–winning narrator. Trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he is well versed in theater and has had a long-standing career in acting, including a lead role in the show Diamonds, which aired on the CBS network, and a part in ESPN’s The Hustle.