Publisher Republic Books, January 24, 2023
From John Cribb, author of the acclaimed novel OldAbe, comes a new work of historical fiction that brings Abraham Lincoln to life as never before.
The Rail Splitter tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable journey from a log cabin to the threshold of the White House—a journey that makes him one of America’s most beloved heroes. We walk beside him on every page of this spellbinding novel and come to know his hopes and struggles on his winding path to greatness.
The story begins with Lincoln’s youth on the frontier, where he grows up with an ax in one hand and book in the other, determined to make something of himself. He sets off on one adventure after another, from rafting down the Mississippi River to marching in an Indian war. When he is twenty-six, the girl he hopes to marry dies of fever. He spends days wandering the countryside in grief. A few years later, he purchases a ring inscribed with the words “Love Is Eternal” and enters a tempestuous marriage with Mary Todd.
Lincoln literally wrestles his way to prominence on the Illinois prairies. He teaches himself the law and enters the rough and tumble world of frontier politics. With Mary’s encouragement, he wins a term in the US Congress, but his political career falters. They are both devastated by the loss of a child. As arguments over slavery sweep the country, Lincoln finds something worth fighting for, and his debates with brash rival Stephen Douglas catapult him toward the White House.
Part coming-of-age story, part adventure story, part love story, and part rags-to-riches story, The Rail Splitter is the making of Abraham Lincoln. The story of the rawboned youth who goes from a log cabin to the White House is, in many ways, the great American story. The Rail Splitter reminds us that the country Lincoln loved is a place of wide-open dreams where extraordinary journeys unfold.