A Novel, Republic Books, September 15, 2020
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most beloved and admired figures in all of history. Thousands of books have been written about him, but this is the Lincoln novel that readers have been waiting for. OLD ABE, the sweeping historical novel coming this fall from New York Times bestselling author John Cribb, brings America’s greatest president to life the way no other book has.
OLD ABE is the story of the last five years of Abraham Lincoln’s life, the most cataclysmic years of our nation’s history. We are at Lincoln’s side on every page as the tragedy deepens, struggling and pressing ahead with him while he fights to save the country.
The story begins in the spring of 1860 in Illinois and follows Lincoln through his election and the calamity of the Civil War to his death at the height of power. During the war, he walks bloody battlefields of Virginia and Maryland. He peers down the Potomac River with a spyglass amid terrifying reports of approaching Confederate gunboats. Death stalks him: one summer evening, a would-be assassin fires a shot at him, and the bullet passes through his hat. At the White House, he weeps over the body of Willie, his second son to die in childhood. As he tries desperately to hold the Union together, he searches for a general who will fight and finds him at last in Ulysses S. Grant. Amid national and personal tragedy, he struggles to find meaning in the war and bring freedom to Southern slaves.
Central to this novel is a love story—the story of Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s sometimes stormy but always devoted marriage. Mary Todd Lincoln’s strong will and ambition for her husband have helped drive him to the White House. But the presidency takes an awful toll on her, and she grows increasingly frightened and insecure. Lincoln watches with dread as she becomes emotionally unstable, and he grasps for ways to prop her up.
As Lincoln’s journey unfolds, OLD ABE chronicles the times in which he lived. Full of epic scenes from American history as well as little known, fascinating details of Lincoln’s presidency, it probes the character and spirit of America. This is a story that involves much suffering and loss, but in the end it is a hopeful story, both for the main character and for the nation.
OLD ABE portrays Lincoln not only as a flesh-and-blood man but a hero who embodies this country’s finest ideals, the central character in the story of America’s greatest disaster and its “new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln himself put it.
We live in a time in which many Americans feel uncertain about the future. Distrust of major institutions is at historic highs. People yearn for true leaders. They will find such a leader in this novel—one of the greatest American leaders, the one who set the country on track to becoming a great nation.
This is the best book about Abraham Lincoln I’ve ever read. Why? In most books about him, you learn something about his life and times, his policies, the Civil War, and so on. But in the end, there is still something unapproachable about him. He’s still that rigid, copper image staring toward the edge of the penny.
This novel turns that copper face into a walking, talking, breathing fellow. And we walk right beside him, through the most catastrophic years in American history. John Cribb has brought Lincoln to life for us. We are with him for every blow and triumph of his journey and come to know his heart and soul as he fights to save the Union.
—William J. Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education and author of The Book of Virtues and America: The Last Best Hope
There are a lot of history books, and a lot of books on Lincoln, but I can’t think of any that bring “the martyred Christ of democracy’s passion play” to such a wonderful new life as John Cribb’s Old Abe. That which we truly need to know is given a strong, new breath of fresh air here. And you cannot put it down. I’ll be giving this book out as a gift for years, for it is a gift to American history as well as the understanding of the life of Lincoln.
—Seth Leibsohn, Senior Fellow, The Claremont Institute – Radio Host, 960am/KKNT, Phoenix, Arizona
In Old Abe, John Cribb accomplishes what all historical novelists try to do, but few pull off: he makes familiar history new again and transforms historical figures into vivid characters. Abraham’s integrity, Mary’s depression, McClellan’s delays—the stirring victories, the military defeats, the personal tragedy—the people and events of countless biographies and histories are given fresh drama and color. This impressive work is for history buffs and fiction fans alike.
—Christopher Scalia, coeditor of Scalia Speaks and On Faith