Topics for Discussion

1. In this biography, Sandburg does more than merely recount the facts about the first twenty years of Abe Lincoln’s life. He tells about such assorted characters as Daniel Boone, Mike Fink, and Napoleon Bonaparte. What is the value of such digressions?

2. Sandburg said that he wrote his biography of Lincoln because other biographies were too idealistic and he wanted to contribute a realistic portrayal. Do you think that Sandburg accomplished this goal?

3. What was the attitude of the settlers toward Native Americans? Why did they feel that way? Are our attitudes different today? If so, why?

4. Examine the text to find similes and metaphors. Do you think they are effective in this nonfiction work? Why or why not?

5. How was it possible for Abe Lincoln to achieve so much with so little formal education? Did his success result from the quality of his scant education or from his own motivation?

6. Examine the text for Sandburg’s allusions to slavery. Is the attitude revealed that of the author or of his characters? What is that attitude? Be sure to consider the description of the New Orleans slave markets in the last chapter.