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Forward Reviews
on The Rail Splitter

Review by Joseph F. Pete.

John Cribb's sweeping historical novel The Rail Splitter covers Abraham Lincoln's early days, charting his path from a rough-hewn log cabin to the White House.

See the full review here.

Former Vice President Mike Pence
on Old Abe

Praise from Mike Pence, a lifelong Abraham Lincoln fan

Old Abe is the best book on President Lincoln I have ever read. It is deeply inspiring.

William J. Bennett on Old Abe

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and author of The Book of Virtues and

America: The Last Best Hope

This is the best book about Abraham Lincoln I've ever read. Why? In most books about him, you learn something about his life and times, his policies, the Civil War, and so on. But in the end, there is still something unapproachable about him. He's still that rigid, copper image staring toward the edge of the penny.


This novel turns that copper face into a walking, talking, breathing fellow. And we walk right beside him, through the most catastrophic years in American history. John Cribb has brought Lincoln to life for us. We are with him for every blow and triumph of his journey and come to know his heart and soul as he fights to save the Union.

The Civil War Monitor on Old Abe

The Civil War Monitor, offers a fresh view of America’s greatest conflict through the contributions and commentary of the country’s leading historians, researchers, and authors. 

Abraham Lincoln’s life and struggles have been told and re-told in a variety of formats and perspectives. This new release—Old Abe: A Novel by John Cribb—is remarkable for its straightforward depictions of the sixteenth president during the Civil War. The novel’s angle, writing style, and historical details will appeal to generations of readers.

Cribb trains his attention on Lincoln’s life between 1860-1865. Even as it foreshadows the tragic end of Lincoln’s life, the novel never takes on an overly dark tone—maintaining a sprite narrative momentum throughout.

See the full review here.

Christopher Scalia on Old Abe

Coeditor of Scalia Speaks and On Faith

In Old Abe, John Cribb accomplishes what all historical novelists try to do, but few pull off: he makes familiar history new again and transforms historical figures into vivid characters. Abraham's integrity, Mary's depression, McClellan's delays—the stirring victories, the military defeats, the personal tragedy—the people and events of countless biographies and histories are given fresh drama and color. This impressive work is for the history buffs and fiction fans alike.

National Review on Old Abe

Review by Jack Fowler for National Review

This is a beautiful and vivid telling of our 16th president’s last five years, marked by unimaginable crises and desperate personal tragedies and spousal burdens, none of which, even en masse, were able to crush Lincoln’s wisdom, humor, and compassion. Or political successes. Cribb presents a Lincoln that many yearn for, the man pictured, unfinished, in our imaginations, more a concept, but one begging to be completed. Cribb provides the flesh and bone and attitude and dialogue.

Read the Full Review Here.

Seth Leibsohn on Old Abe

Senior Fellow, the Claremont Institute Radio Host, 960am/KKNT, Phoenix, Arizona

There are a lot of history books, and a lot of books on Lincoln, but I can't think of any that bring "the martyred Christ of democracy's passion play" to such a wonderful new life as John Cribb's Old Abe. That which we truly need to know is given a strong, new breath of fresh air here. And you cannot put it down. I'll be giving this book out as a gift for years, for it is a gift to American history as well as the understanding of the life of Lincoln. 

Historical Novel Society on Old Abe

Review by Chris Booth for The Historical Novel Society

Beginning in 1860, the reader is immersed in the life of Abraham Lincoln from a personal viewpoint that brings the man to life in a very human manner... Overall, this is a fantastic novel that immediately grips the imagination and makes the reader feel as if they have journeyed through the peaks and valleys of his presidential life and have come to know this historical great on a personal level.

Read the Full Review Here.

Michel Stone on Old Abe

Author of The Iguana Tree and Border Child

John Cribb’s inspiring and well researched novel Old Abe will inform and delight readers as it brings us up close and personal with one of America’s most impactful presidents during a dark time in American history.  We see Abraham Lincoln not only as the serious, often brooding man as he's so often depicted, but also as a multidimensional, living, breathing man of great humor and passion who could “make a cat laugh.” Old Abe the man and Old Abe the novel appeal to the better angels of our nature, both as individuals and as a country. Cribb’s debut novel is a triumph and I recommend it for all readers, young and old alike.

American Essence Magazine
on Old Abe

Review by Deena Bouknight for American Essence magazine

Cribb brings us so close to Lincoln in "Old Abe" that we shudder to read Chapter 52, titled "April 14, 1865." Knowing the result of that fateful day, we ache when Lincoln says to Gen. Grant (who chose not to attend the evening's theater performance), "We're going to have good times now, and a united country." And we swallow hard when, just before Lincoln is shot, Cribb's prose reveals the president's thoughts about his family: "They must all make more time for each other--more time for laughing, for afternoon drives, for evenings at the theater." "Old Abe" gives us history, some of which we've read before and some of which is revealing, but it does more: it gives us Abe Lincoln in the flesh.

Read the Full Review Here.

She Reads on Old Abe

She Reads is a multimedia company with editorial, video, social and digital content recommending books to women based on genre, habits, jobs, pop culture and lifestyle preferences.

In this fictional account of the last five years of Abraham Lincoln’s life, Cribb draws on copious research to provide an in-depth and personal account of a turbulent time through the eyes of the great man himself. Opening with Lincoln’s presidential bid and subsequent election, Old Abe follows Lincoln as he heads to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration, evades assassination attempts, tries to hold the country together, and ultimately oversees the Union’s defeat of the Confederate forces and the reassembling of a battered and bruised country. The political climate and certain hotly contested issues from the mid-1860s are uncannily similar to what the United States is experiencing now, and Old Abe will make readers long for a leader like Lincoln.

See the full review here.

The Core Virtues Foundation on Old Abe

The Core Virtues Foundation is dedicated to advancing virtues-based character education for all elementary school children

This 323 page novel of the last four years of Lincoln's life is a complete triumph.  Abe Lincoln was the poster child for perseverance (which is why we're featuring it in OCTOBER instead of February). The backwoods prairie lawyer-turned-statesman shepherded the nation through the four-year war that ended slavery and saved the Union, but cost hundreds of thousands of lives and the life of his young son as well. In this book, we are in the mind and heart of Lincoln from his election to the end of the Civil War.

See the full review here.

Midwest Book Review on Old Abe

Midwest Book Review is dedicated to increasing literacy, public utilization of libraries, and fostering small press

A deftly penned historical novel that showcases the author's genuine flair for originality, a close and entertaining story that accurately adheres to historical detail, and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that fully engages the reader's attention, Old Abe by John Cribb will prove to be an immediately and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university library collections.

See the full review here.

Jonathan Herbert on Old Abe

Review in Sasparilla Magazine

"Old Abe," by John Cribb, is a profound novel about the final five years of Abraham Lincoln's life, years that some would consider the most cataclysmic years of America's history. Cribb, a New York Times bestwelling author, spent more than a dozen years researching and writing this novel that come at an appropriate time when Americans are more divided than ever before. This novel reminds us of our great history and portrays the president who embodies our finest idea.

Read the Full Review Here.

Kirkus Reviews on Old Abe

Review from Kirkus Reviews

Cribb's intimate debut novel puts readers into the mind of Abraham Lincoln during the turbulent last five years of his life.

Read the Full Review Here.

Cool Cleveland on Old Abe

Review by Mansfield Frazier for Cool Cleveland

There have been more books written about the 16th President of the United States and the Civil War that commenced at the beginning of his first term in office than on any other subject in American history. However, virtually all of them have been in the nonfiction genre.

But John Cribb’s new book, Old Abe, takes a deep dive into the final five years of the life of arguably our greatest president through a different lens, that of fiction. The author spent a decade pouring over personal letters, government documents and written reports from various other primary and secondary sources in an attempt to capture the essence of the man and the tumultuous times during which he guided the fractured nation.

Read the Full Review Here.

The Mountain Times on Old Abe

The Mountain Times is an award-winning weekly publication that serves Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties, as well as the surrounding communities of the Western North Carolina High Country.

Although we’re listing only fiction on this list, “Old Abe” by John Cribb is a story so developed from primary and secondary research it could qualify as a nonfiction title. The novel covers the last years of Lincoln’s life, and although it is cliche to state that fictional memoirs can bring their subjects to life, the plotting, detail and storytelling of Cribb’s novel does just this.

See the full review here.

WNCW on Old Abe

A broadcast service of Isothermal Community College

Many book critics and reviewers are calling author John Cribb's book Old Abe (Abraham Lincoln) the best book on the former president in many years.  Cribb, a native of Spartanburg, was recently on the campus of Isothermal Community College and dropped by WNCW to talk about his book during this Friday Feature Interview of the Week on October 22, 2020.  Cribb decided to focus his story on the last five-years of Lincoln's life.

See the full review here.

Sasee Magazine on Old Abe

Magazine based in Pawley's Island, SC

We all know the back story of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, but did we ever consider what his life was truly like. This book takes readers on the epic journey of the last five years of Lincoln’s life. From the moment he is elected, to the bloody battlefields in Virginia, to the loss of his second child, Lincoln faced incredible struggles. His marriage faced hardships, but the love between Lincoln and his wife is inspiring. Author, John Cribb does an excellent job depicting Lincoln’s life and final moments. History buffs and historical fiction fans will want to read this book.

See the full review here.

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