Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David Herbert Donald  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1920 in Goodman, Mississippi

-- David Herbert Donald on WorldCat --

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

    Lincoln, Simon & Schuster, 1996We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends, Simon & Schuster , 2004Why the North Won the Civil War , Simon & Schuster, 1996Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era , Vintage, 2001Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War , Sourcebooks, Inc., 2009Lincoln At Home : Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln's Family Life, Simon & Schuster , 2003 Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe , Harvard University Press, 2003Liberty and Union , Little Brown & Co , 1978Lincoln at Home: 2 Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln's Domestic Life, White House Historical Association , 1999Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe , Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1988

Selected Titles At Your Library

Lincoln /
ISBN: 068482535X. OCLC Number:

. .

"This fully rounded biography of America's sixteenth President is the product of Donald's half-century of study of Lincoln and his times. In preparing it, Donald has drawn more extensively than any previous writer on Lincoln's personal papers and those of his contemporaries, and he has taken full advantage of the voluminous newly discovered records of Lincoln's legal practice. He presents his findings with the same literary skill and psychological understanding exhibited in his previous biographies, which have received two Pulitzer Prizes ... Much more than a political biography, Donald's Lincoln reveals the development of the future President's character and shows how his private life helped to shape his public career. In Donald's skillful hands, Lincoln emerges as a youthful, vigorous President. One of the youngest men ever to occupy the White House, he was also the husband of an even younger wife and the father of boisterous children. We witness how Lincoln's absorption with politics disrupted his family life, and how his often tumultuous marriage affected his political career. And we see a man renowned for his storytelling and his often sidesplitting humor lapse into the periods of deep melancholy to which he was prone, not only during the dark days of the Civil War but throughout his life ... Donald's strikingly original portrait of Lincoln depicts a man who was basically passive by nature, who confessed that he did not control events but events had controlled him. Yet coupled with that fatalism was an unbounded ambition that drove him to take enormous political risks and enabled him to overcome repeated defeats. Donald shows that Lincoln was a master of ambiguity and expediency--but he also stresses that Lincoln was a great moral leader, inflexibly opposed to slavery and absolutely committed to preserving the Union."--Jacket.

"We are Lincoln men" :
ISBN: 0743254708. OCLC Number:

Simon & Schuster,. New York :. ©2003.

Offers a new perspective on the private life of the Civil War president through an examination of his few friendships and close associations, which were marked by estrangements in the face of political differences.

Why the North won the Civil War /
ISBN: 0684825066. OCLC Number:

Simon & Schuster,. New York, N.Y. :. ©1996.

Contains six essays in which the authors examine the reasons why the North won the Civil War, providing an overview of the defeat of the Confederacy, and discussing issues of military leadership, politics, diplomacy, economics, and society.

Lincoln reconsidered :
ISBN: 0375725326. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 2001.

Charles Sumner and the coming of the Civil War /
ISBN: 1402218397. OCLC Number:

Sourcebooks,. Naperville, Ill. :. ©2009.

Harvard Professor David Herbert Donald traces Sumner's life in this Pulitzer-Prize winning classic about a nation careening toward Civil War.

Lincoln at home :
ISBN: 0743211421. OCLC Number:

Simon & Schuster,. New York :. 2003.

Look homeward :
ISBN: 0674008693. OCLC Number:

Harvard University Press,. Cambridge, Mass. :. 2002.

A portrait of an American novelist examining the forces of his life that were intertwined with his writing and the academic and literary worlds of which he was a part.

Liberty and Union /
ISBN: 0316189499. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown and Co.,. Boston :. ©1978.

Lincoln at home :
ISBN: 091230877X. OCLC Number:

White House Historical Association in cooperation with Thornwillow Press,. Washington, D.C. :. 1999.


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

  • Pulitzer Prize,
  • Look Homeward