6 Degrees of Separation: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders



Right off the bat let me say that I did not like Lincoln in the Bardo, in spite of hte hype, the awards, and the amazing creativity of it. I listened to the equally amazing and creative audio version but had to force myself to finish it. You can read my review here. There. That’s all been said out loud. Let’s move on to this month’s chain of books.

I’ve chosen a selection of fiction and non-fiction, as well as a classic children’s book, to that come to mind instantly when I hear the name “Lincoln.” As hard as it was to make sense of Lincoln in the Bardo, doing so without having a good grounding in Lincoln and his times would be even worse.

The Three Novels I Choose




Each of these builds the portrait of the chaos in which Lincoln was forced to govern–both as President and as Husband and Father of the Lincoln family. His own depression butted heads with the mania of his wife, Mary Todd. His children all but ran wild, he was besieged by hangers-on and consumed by the Civil War. It is a life I’d not wish on an enemy.

The Non-fiction I Choose




I read Lincoln’s Sons in high school and it had a lasting impact on me. It is well know that the Lincoln’s lost a son, Willie, in the White House. Many know that they paid a substitute to fight for their Harvard student eldest son, Robert. This was mostly due to Mrs. Lincoln’s family having divided loyalties–some of her many brothers or half-brothers faught for the Confederacy. But there is a second reason. The Lincoln’s also lost a son named Eddie–hence the large age gap between Robert and his little brothers. Such a sad thing to have happened even in a day and age when children often died in childhood.

Abraham Lincon’s World takes a younger reader thru the events of the world at the time Lincoln lived. This book, and it’s counterparts–George Washington’s World being one, are such marvelous histroy! I have not read the entire book, but read significant portions of it with my children when they were younger. Superb.


The Picture Book I Choose



I love the D’Aulaire’s book on Lincoln. It is simply the best children’s book on Lincoln ever.





Note: If you’d like your children to know more classic literature, check out Ambleside Online. While it is a superb homeschool curriculm, the book lists are so amazing and any can enjoy them. I have a blog where I track my progress in reading thru the book lists: A Lifelong Learner in Ambleside.


The Documentary I Choose–Bonus!


This documentary, and Ken Burn’s Civil War series, are an excellent education in Abraham Lincoln. Both show up on Youtube and can be borrowed on dvd from many public libraries. A House Divided sums up the Lincoln’s tempestuous marriage.


The Poem I Chose To Complete the Picture of Lincoln



Nancy Hanks

If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She’d ask first
“Where’s my son?
What’s happened to Abe?
What’s he done?”

“Poor little Abe,
Left all alone.
Except for Tom,
Who’s a rolling stone;
He was only nine,
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried.”

“Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town.”

“You wouldn’t know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?”

– Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet

This was in my 3rd or 4th grade reader and I’ve never forgotten it. Nancy Hanks Lincoln was Abraham’s mother. She died leaving Abe and his sister Sarah to be raised, in part, by a step-mother who treated him kindly.


Want to Join in 6 Degrees of Separation?

On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. It is hosted by the blogger Bookksaremyfavoriteandbest. You can see all of January’s chains here.

6 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

  1. sjbraun

    What a great collection of Lincoln stuff. That child’s Lincoln book looks really familiar. I have always been fascinated by the Lincolns — both their personalities, what would be their modern “diagnoses” etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great chain! I did include a Jennifer Chiaverini book in my chain, but it was one of the quilting books instead of her later historical fiction. I also remember that Abraham Lincoln picture book. Nice job!

    Liked by 1 person

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