Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words
Order an autographed copy from Book People or find the book through your local independent bookstore, searchable on Indibound.org, or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, and other retailers. If you would like a free autographed bookplate that you can add to your book, email me with your mailing address.
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.
Blurb: “A rollicking story, well told with all the original color.”
–James M. Cornelius, Ph.D., Curator, Lincoln Collection
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
Reviews and Accolades:
“Bowman’s upbeat telling is infused with folksy humor, and Schindler’s superb watercolor-and-ink illustrations effectively capture the time period” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lively, engaging… Bowman’s conversational, folksy reader-directed paragraphs incorporate droll, dramatic, and suspenseful touches that will likely hold readers’ interest…Schindler’s intricate, expressive watercolor-and-ink illustrations lend further vibrancy.” —Booklist
“Bowman adds levity and appeal through the use of a Midwestern dialect, second-person point of view, and figurative language that readily evokes time and place. Schindler’s illustrations, done in watercolor and ink, are a perfect accompaniment to this moralistic story.”—School Library Journal (lovely review, but let me correct that the dialect is southern or folksy, not midwestern, and there is direct address, not second-person pov.)
Betsy Bird, for School Library Journal and Fuse #8 Productions, recommends Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words in her article Goofs, Gaffs, and Everything in Between—Nonfiction Considers Mistakes in which she makes the great point that “… in this day and age it is a novel thing to see a politician owning up to a mistake.”
School Library Connection excerpt (Aug/Sept 2018 issue): “With a casual, conversational tone, author Donna Janell Bowman shares the humorous and troublemaking side of Abraham Lincoln. . . With many books focused on the successes of Abraham Lincoln, this title takes a refreshing look at one of Lincoln’s mistakes. Likely a story not known to many, this selection humanizes a celebrated man and solidifies his position as one of America’s greatest heroes! Illustrated by S. D. Schindler. . . Recommended.”
Library Thing review excerpt: “With brilliant illustrations and clear language, Bowman and Schindler bring to life this little-known tale, making Lincoln into more a person than a symbol of ideal. He’s got a playful sense of humour, and bit of an impetuous nature. It was neat to see Lincoln in a trickster light!”
Reading Rockets review excerpt: “Rather than demount old Abe from a pedestal, this historical episode serves to demonstrate that even the best folks make mistakes and that errors can be rectified. Humorously told and expressively illustrated…”
A Book and a Hug review excerpt: “This would make a great read-aloud around Presidents’ Day or any day when you are discussing reputation, getting along with others, honesty, American history, problem-solving or as a prequel to the American Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Click on the links below for even more information about the Lincoln-Shields duel:
- Click here to see the Select Sources and Quotation Sources for Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words.
- My working timeline for Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words
- The history of Bloody Island—the Mississippi River location of the Lincoln-Shields duel
- 19th-Century Dueling Terms.
- What Sparked the Lincoln-Shields Duel & Lincoln’s Unusual Fight Terms
- The gentleman’s code of conduct. There was a reason for all that hat-tipping and formality.
- The Lincoln-Shields Duel Sparks Two Other Duels
- James Shields and his Working Relationship with Lincoln Before and During the Civil War
- Character education and curriculum tie-ins
- My onsite and digital research journey
- Reading of the Nicolay and Hay 1890 Account of the Lincoln-Shields Duel
Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words is featured on Publisher’s Spotlight showcase on Kidlit TV. See the video here.