Bray sheds light on Lincoln’s reading

Southern Illinois University Press has just published Reading with Lincoln, by our own Robert Bray, Colwell Professor of American Literature. Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life, wrote, “In this subtle, insightful study, Robert Bray offers the first scholarly account of Lincoln’s reading. A professor of English, Bray has a keen literary sensibility and broad culture that enable him to shed bright light on the development of Lincoln’s taste and on the ways in which the books he read influenced his thinking and writing.”

“Robert Bray has not only discovered every book and text and poem and treatise and humorous sketch and Shakespeare play that Lincoln read,” William Lee Miller, author of President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman, wrote in a review. “He has also read them himself, and he takes the reader inside those readings—and therefore inside Lincoln’s mind—in this excellent book.” The book contains five chapters an an appendix detailing the books that Abraham Lincoln read.

“Abraham Lincoln’s reading, like almost everything else about him, was quite distinctive,” wrote Douglas L. Wilson (Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words). “Robert Bray’s approach to this important aspect of Lincoln’s development is both original and provocative . . . .”

The book is available online at

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