Details Make The Man for the Ages Worth Reading

Abraham Lincoln
Mr. Lincoln

Irving Bacheller has set his novel A Man for the Ages in the guise of an historical account drawn from the narrator’s family diaries and oral history. The result of this literary stratagem is neither a wholly satisfactory history or a wholly satisfactory novel.

Samson Traylor and his family left Vermont in 1831 to settle in Illinois.  Samson is a gentle giant, wise and loyal. He makes friends easily and makes enemies only when principles are at stake.

One of the first people the Traylors meet in Illinois is young Abe Lincoln, with whom they are to be lifelong friends.

The novel twists around the misfortunes of Harry, a lad the Traylors take in, and Bim, the local lass whom he loves; both their stories repeatedly cross that of Lincoln.

A Man for the Ages has too much plot resting on too little character support to be an entertaining novel. The historical elements, however, provide interesting reading.

For example, Lincoln’s personal business failures are well-known. Less well-known is how Lincoln’s lack of business acumen contributed to a land speculation bubble that nearly bankrupted the state and did bankrupt many of its citizens.

A Man for the Ages may not excite you, but it won’t waste your time.

A Man for the Ages: A Story of the Builders of Democracy
By Irving Bacheller John Wolcott Adams
Bobbs-Merril, 1919
416 pages
1920 bestseller # 5
Project Gutenberg ebook #17237
My Grade: B-

Photo credit: Mr. Lincoln by Margantz

© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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