Lincoln was a complicated man; unassuming but ambitious, honest but wily, humorous but occasionally despondent, spiritual but not religious, and he thought slavery was evil but condoned its legality until late in his life. The author, as narrator, tells of Lincoln's magnanimity in both victory and defeat, his continual quest for self-improvement, his personal tragedies, and his compassion in the midst of war. However, Lincoln was a pragmatic politician who pushed the Emancipation Proclamation although it did not free many slaves, used patronage to secure votes, and ordered the extraordinary use of Presidential War Powers.
His life story is told in a generally chronological series of chapters focused on a time or specific event in Lincoln's life from his childhood to his unlikely rise to become President of the United States; and explores his close relationship with friends, his political career, his family, and the monumental decisions he faced during the Civil War.
There are thousands of books and articles about Lincoln ranging from those which only extol his virtues (and he had many) to those which attempt to "de-myth" his legacy by exaggerating his faults (and he had a few). The fact is that Lincoln's life defies simple characterizations. He had opposed President Polk's "Unconstitutional use of power" during the Mexican War, but Lincoln later assumed War Powers beyond any other previous President. He was known as "Honest Abe" and even political opponents remarked that "his cards were always face-up," but he once intentionally misled Congress. He agonized over the carnage inflicted on both sides of the War, but continually ordered his Generals to "push the fight" to the Southern armies. To Lincoln, however, these actions were necessary to end the War and to achieve his overarching goal, the preservation of the Union. While Lincoln's personal and political philosophy toward slavery evolved over time, he always believed secession was illegal and must be prohibited and the Union restored.
Mr. Dorris chose to not include a detailed account of the assassination conspiracy against Lincoln or the circumstance of his death, focusing instead on his life and the way he lived it. The author assumes the role of a narrator and simply tells his rendition of the fascinating life story of "Abraham Lincoln - an uncommon, common man."