Releasing in Spring 2018: Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words

(Peachtree, 2018)

Coming in spring 2018Peachtree Publishers. illustrated by S.D. Schindler

Jacket copy:

Long before he was our beloved president, Abraham Lincoln was known for his smarts and his knee-slapping humor. In 1842, that got him into a heap of trouble. When he clashed with James Shields, a political rival, Lincoln came up with a rascally plan.
          It was silly.
          It was clever.
          It was a great big mistake.
          Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel!
          Lincoln would need his wit and a healthy dose of humility to save his career—and even his life.
          A rare look at the more human side of Abraham Lincoln and how the lessons he learned made him a better man.

Stay tuned for the book trailer and curriculum guide!

Read the cover reveal post on Cynsations

How I found the story of Lincoln’s duel:

It always happens that, when I’m researching for one book, ideas for other books pop up. That’s what happened in 2012 when I came across a one-line mention of Abraham Lincoln’s duel. At first, my brain couldn’t register that our most revered, monumentalized American figure did something so controversial and dangerous. The research journey that followed revealed a great deal about the evolution of Lincoln’s character. He was a real, fallible, sometimes-naughty guy, just like the rest of us. How refreshing! Lincoln could have allowed his great big mistake to define him, but he chose instead to learn from them. Now that is something to admire, isn’t it? How lucky for our us that he survived his scrape with James Shields. Imagine what our country would be like if Abraham Lincoln had never been president!

Want to know more about the Lincoln-Shields Duel? In the months leading up to the book’s release, I will add new blog posts—linked from here— about the expanded story, including these topics:

You won’t see a full bibliography in the back matter of Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words. Wanna know why?

Simply put, even my super-whittled-down select sources resulted in a book that was too long to fit the standard 32-page format. So my editor and I made the difficult decision to move the sources here, to the book page of my website. Click here to see the quotation sources and Select Sources. What does appear in the book’s back matter are the following three very cool links to primary sources:

Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections, where you can see old issues of the Sangamo Journal and the actual Rebecca letters

Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln Association, where you can see modern transcripts of the Rebecca letters

The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress has the only surviving document related to the almost-duel—Lincoln’s handwritten duel terms written to his second, E.H. Merryman.