Review of “With Malice Toward None” by Stephen Oates

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln ” is Stephen Oates’s 1977 classic biography of our sixteenth president. Oates is an author, historian and former professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the author of sixteen books, many of which are focused on important people and issues relating to the Civil War.

Oates’s biography was the first comprehensive treatment of Lincoln in nearly two decades. Critically hailed, it quickly gained a reputation as “the” standard Lincoln biography, replacing Benjamin Thomas’s 1952 biography in that role. Not until David Herbert Donald’s universally acclaimed “Lincoln” was published in 1995 did Oates’s biography relinquish its prominence.

Thirteen years after its publication, Oates became embroiled in a plagiarism controversy when a number of “similarities” between Oates’s biography and Benjamin Thomas’s biography were discovered. The ensuing debate involved several respected historians and authors (including five Pulitzer Prize winners)…

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