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In the Magazine

John Cribb

January 21, 2021

John Cribb is a bestselling author who has written about subjects ranging from history to education. His previous work includes coauthoring The American Patriot’s Almanac and The Educated Child, both New York Times bestsellers; co-editing The Human Odyssey, a 3-volume world history text, and developing online history courses. His writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, National Review Online, and several other publications. John was recently featured in the January issue of Welcome Home and generously answered a few questions!


1. Why did you become a writer? 

I think that, as with many people, reading great books and stories as a child made me want to write. To be honest, I didn’t set out to be a writer. I just sort of fell into it. Every job I’ve ever had since graduating from college has involved writing in one way or another. 


I love the intellectual demand and creativity of writing. I’m happiest when I’m creating in some way, so writing fulfills that needI enjoy it, but it’s not easy for me. Getting it right is usually hard work, but I find that the most satisfying things in life come from hard work. I think that’s another reason I became a writer: it’s a demanding job, and that’s good for me.  


2. What inspired your current book? 

I’ve been interested in Lincoln for a long time, going way back to when I was very young and my mother read aloud to my siblings and me. I was fascinated with the stories she read about Lincoln splitting logs to make fence rails and walking miles through the woods to borrow books.


The idea to write a novel about Lincoln came in 2006. I had checked Carl Sandburg’s landmark, six-volume biography of Lincoln out of the Spartanburg County Library and was making my way through it. At the same time, I reread Irving Stone’s wonderful novel about the life of Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy, which I had read in high school. It set me to wondering if I could write a novel about Lincoln. My original plan was to cover his whole life, but in the end, I ended up focusing on the last five years. 


3. What is next for you?

I’m working on a novel about Lincoln during his years before the presidency. It’s the backstory to Old Abe, so to speak. In many ways, that’s the most fascinating part of his life—how he got from a frontier log cabin to the White House. I did a lot of the research as I was writing Old Abe, so I have ample material to draw on. With luck and some work, I’ll be able to turn it into a book. 


old Abe 2

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