Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David Herbert Donald  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History

Born: 1920 in Goodman, Mississippi

Sites:


Illinois Connection

David Herbert Donald earned his masters degree in History in 1942 and his PhD in 1946 at the University of Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Majoring in history and sociology, Donald earned his bachelor degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He earned his PhD in 1946 under the eminent, leading Lincoln scholar, James G. Randall at the University of Illinois. Randall as a mentor had a big influence on Donald's life and career, and encouraged his protege to write his dissertation on Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon. The dissertation eventually became his first book, Lincoln's Herndon, published in 1948. The effect Randall had on Donald was later illustrated by the fact that he gave his only son the middle name Randall in honor of his former mentor. After graduating, he taught at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins and, from 1973, Harvard University. He also taught at Smith College, the University of North Wales, Princeton University, University College London and served as Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University. At Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Harvard he trained dozens of g raduate students including Jean H. Baker, William J. Cooper, Jr., Michael Holt, Irwin Unger, and Ari Hoogenboom. He received the Pulitzer Prize twice (1961 and 1988), several honorary degrees, and served as president of the Southern Historical Association.David H. Donald was the Charles Warren Professor of American History (emeritus from 1991) at Harvard University. He wrote over thirty books, including well received biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Wolfe and Charles Sumner. He specialized in the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, and in the history of the South.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Lincoln
ISBN: 068482535X

Simon & Schuster. 1996

A masterful work by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.

Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country divided by civil war. Donald goes beyond biography, illuminating the gradual development of Lincoln’s character, chronicling his tremendous capacity for evolution and growth, thus illustrating what made it possible for a man so inexperienced and so unprepared for the presidency to become a great moral leader. In the most troubled of times, here was a man who led the country out of slavery and preserved a shattered Union—in short, one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.

We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends
ISBN: 0743254708

Simon & Schuster. 2004

In this brilliant and illuminating portrait of our sixteenth president, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald examines the significance of friendship in Abraham Lincoln's life and the role it played in shaping his career and his presidency.

Though Abraham Lincoln had hundreds of acquaintances and dozens of admirers, he had almost no intimate friends. Behind his mask of affability and endless stream of humorous anecdotes, he maintained an inviolate reserve that only a few were ever able to penetrate.

Professor Donald's remarkable book offers a fresh way of looking at Abraham Lincoln, both as a man who needed friendship and as a leader who understood the importance of friendship in the management of men. Donald penetrates Lincoln's mysterious reserve to offer a new picture of the president's inner life and to explain his unsurpassed political skills.

Why the North Won the Civil War
ISBN: 0684825066

Simon & Schuster. 1996

In this classic exploration of the Confederacy’s defeat in the Civil War, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald and author of Lincoln assembles insightful and probing essays from six of America’s most distinguished historians.

Focusing on the political, military, economic, social, and diplomatic reasons behind the Union victory, this collection presents the most complete picture of this key aspect of Civil War studies. In an essay new to this edition, Henry Steele Commager offers a historiographical overview of the collapse of the Confederacy. Richard N. Current describes the economic superiority of the North and shows how the civilian resources of the South were dissipated during the war. T. Harry Williams examines the deficiencies of the Southern military strategy and leadership. Norman A. Graebner discusses the reluctance of France and England to aid the South. David Herbert Donald, in his own essay, reports that excessive Southern emphasis on individual freedom fatally undermined military discipline. And David M. Potter suggests that a lack of political leadership in the South resulted in gross incompetence. And exclusively for this edition, the editor has written a new foreword and completely updated the bibliography to create the most comprehensive and enlightening guide to understanding why the North won the Civil War.

Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era
ISBN: 0375725326

Vintage. 2001

David Herbert Donald, Lincoln biographer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has revised and updated his classic and influential book on Lincoln and the era he dominated.

When Lincoln Reconsidered was first published it ushered in the process of rethinking the Civil War that continues to this day. In the third edition, David provides two important new essays, on Lincoln's patchy education—which we find was more extensive than even the great man realized—and on Lincoln's complex and conflicted relationship to the rule of law. Together with a new preface and a thoroughly updated bibliographical essay, Lincoln Reconsidered will continue to be a touchstone of Lincoln scholarship for decades to come.

Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War
ISBN: 1402218397

Sourcebooks. 2009

The Puliter-Prize winning classic and national bestseller returns!

In this brilliant biography—a Pulitzer Prize—winning national bestseller—David Herbert Donald, Harvard professor emeritus, traces Sumner's life as the nation careens toward civil war. In a period when senators often exercised more influence than presidents, Senator Charles Sumner was one of the most powerful forces in the American government and remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. His uncompromising moral standards made him a lightning rod in an era fraught with conflict.

Sumner's fight to end slavery made him a hero in the North and stirred outrage in the South. In what has been called the first blow of the Civil War, he was physically attacked by a colleague on the Senate floor. Unwavering and arrogant, Sumner refused to abandon the moral high ground, even if doing so meant the onslaught of the nation's most destructive war. He used his office and influence to transform the United States during the most contentious and violent period in the nation's history.

Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War presents a remarkably different view of our bloodiest war through an insightful reevaluation of the man who stood at its center.

"A truly perceptive study."
American Heritage

"Few books can be recommended wholeheartedly to the specialist and the general reader alike. This one can."
New York Times Book Review

"[Full of] Donald's unparalleled knowledge and provocative interpretations."
James M. McPherson, New York Times Book Review

Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln's Family Life
ISBN: 0743211421

Simon & Schuster. 2003

As Lincoln led the nation into the Civil War, managing the Union war effort, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, winning reelection in 1864, and planning the Reconstruction of the South, he also led a private life, defined by his close relationship with his wife and his devotion to his children. Lincoln at Home offers a view into the life of the family through their written correspondence.
With a brief account of their years in the White House and the complete collection of all the known letters exchanged by Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, this elegant portrait defines the sixteenth president as a dedicated -- though often a desperately busy and distracted -- family man.
Lincoln at Home is an intimate and rare glimpse of the president as husband and father, a cheerful man pinned to the floor while playing with his children, and a desolate man struck down by grief at the death of his son. Beyond this, we are shown a personal side of the man who managed one of the most difficult periods in American history.

Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe
ISBN: 0674008693

Harvard University Press. 2003

Thomas Wolfe, one of the giants of twentieth-century American fiction, is also one of the most misunderstood of our major novelists. A man massive in his size, his passions, and his gifts, Wolfe has long been considered something of an unconscious genius, whose undisciplined flow of prose was shaped into novels by his editor, the celebrated Maxwell Perkins.

In this definitive and compelling biography, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David Herbert Donald dismantles that myth and demonstrates that Wolfe was a boldly aware experimental artist who, like James Joyce, William Faulkner, and John Dos Passos, deliberately pushed at the boundaries of the modern novel. Donald takes a new measure of this complex, tormented man as he reveals Wolfe's difficult childhood, when he was buffeted between an alcoholic father and a resentful mother

his "magical" years at the University of North Carolina, where his writing talent first flourished

his rise to literary fame after repeated rejection

and the full story of Wolfe's passionate affair with Aline Bernstein, including their intimate letters.

Liberty and Union
ISBN: 0316189499

Little Brown & Co. 1978

Recounts the sectional controversies that occurred during the Jacksonian Era and the Populist Period and their effects on our economic organization, race relations, literary history, and social structure

Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln's Domestic Life
ISBN: 091230877X

White House Historical Assn. 1999

Evidently this book describes facts about Lincoln's domestic life, his attitudes, patterns of behavior, mood, etc.

Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe
ISBN: 0747501548

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. 1988

This is biography of Thomas Wolfe. a major 20th century author of fiction.


Awards

--

Pulitzer Prize, Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War”

Pulitzer Prize, “Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe”