Monday, August 21, 2017


I'm speaking on "Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln" to the Filson HIstorical Society on September 12 in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 12. Here's the announcement from the Society: ANNOUNCEMENT.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


I did a Bing search and a Google search on Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln and came up with eight sites which are offering free copies of the book.

I didn't plan to get rich from sales of the book, but I didn't plan to have so many different people trying to steal from me, either.

I'm taking steps to have the websites shut down, but it is really a pain in the nether regions to have to deal with stuff like this. A number of other sites have already been shut down without my having to take any action.

This has happened on a small scale with other books that I've written, but never on such a large scale as with Prairie Defender. Does the fact that so many different websites have pirated your book mean that it is a good book?

Monday, June 19, 2017


Although the tentative release date for Prairie Defender was June 28, the book actually was published on my birthday, May 23, 2017. SIU Press put out a flier/brochure on the book, a copy of which is set forth below.

One thing which the flyer does not mention: In the endnotes to the chapters, you will find references to web pages which contain additional supplemental information about the people and events described in each chapter.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


As Prairie Defender nears its July publication date, and I busily correct the page proofs and prepare the index, I'd like to share some reviews of the book which we have received:

"With over 16,000 books published about Abraham Lincoln is there need for another? Emphatically yes! And this contribution to understanding Lincoln proves it. Lincoln’s service as president was based in large part on his experience as a lawyer as well as his first love – politics. The author describes succinctly that Lincoln was a first rate attorney, especially in his counsel in criminal cases. While not a large part of his practice of over 5,000 cases, Lincoln’s defense of those charged with murder demonstrate that he was skilled in the art of cross examination and clever by half in convincing juries. Much of this comes from his empathy by putting himself in the place of another and experience what they were feeling. This noble and effective quality in Lincoln’s character is shown repeatedly in this volume."—Frank J. Williams, retired Chief Justice of Rhode Island and founding Chair of the Lincoln Forum

"George Dekle’s 'Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln' is not only an important addition to Lincoln legal literature, it is a must read for all lawyers, Lincoln historians, and legal scholars. Dekle relates the stories of Lincoln’s major homicide cases in scholarly detail and gives anecdotal background to the trials giving a life beyond the trials themselves. As a lawyer, Dekle’s analysis of Lincoln’s trial work will not only enable the modern lawyer to understand those trials, but as a superb writer he writes in a manner to make the book enjoyable to all readers regardless of their legal interests."—Travis H.D. Lewin, professor emeritus, Syracuse University

"Only an experienced criminal lawyer could have written this engaging book. The case by case study of Lincoln's murder trials in not a rehash of earlier volumes about Lincoln the lawyer . It is an original, in depth analysis of Lincoln's trial strategies, tactics, and techniques; it offers fresh insights into his ability as a trial lawyer. It a must read for anyone interested in evaluating Lincoln as a trial attorney."—Guy Fraker, author, Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


The publication process for Prairie Defender is making progress, and they've come out with some advertising copy for the book. We've still got to go through copy editing, page proofs, and indexing, but it won't be as long as it has been. Here's the advertising copy:


According to conventional wisdom, Abraham Lincoln spent most of his law career collecting debt and representing railroads, and this focus made him inept at defending homicide cases. In this unprecedented study of Lincoln’s criminal cases, George Dekle disproves these popular notions. Through careful examination of Lincoln’s homicide cases and evaluation of his legal skills, Dekle demonstrates in Prairie Defender that Lincoln was first and foremost a trial lawyer, that the trial of accused criminals was an important part of his practice, and that he was quite capable of defending murder cases, which he tried at the rate of about one per year.

Dekle begins by presenting the viewpoints of those who see Lincoln as a perfect lawyer whose only flaw was his inability to represent the wrong side of a case and those who believe Lincoln was a less-than-honest legal hack, and he invites readers to compare these stereotypes to the flesh-and-blood Lincoln revealed in each case that is described, including a case where Lincoln assisted the prosecution in an axe murder, a poisoning case he refused to prosecute for $200 but defended for $75,  and a case he won by proving that a supposed murder victim was still alive.

As Dekle deals with each case, he first tells the stories of the feuds, arguments, and insults that led to murder and other criminal activity, giving a gripping view of the seamy side of life in nineteenth-century Illinois. Then he traces the course of the pretrial litigation, describes the trials and the various tactics employed in the prosecution and defense, and critiques the performance of both Lincoln and his adversaries.

Dekle concludes that Lincoln was a competent, diligent criminal trial lawyer who knew the law, could argue it effectively to both judge and jury, and would use all lawful means to defend clients whether they were innocent or guilty. His trial record shows Lincoln to have been a formidable defense lawyer who won many seemingly hopeless cases through his skill as a courtroom tactician, cross-examiner, and orator. Criminal defendants who could retain Lincoln as a defense attorney were well represented, and criminal defense attorneys who sought him as co-counsel were well served to have had Lincoln as a trial partner. Providing insight into both Lincoln’s legal career and the culture in which he practiced law, Prairie Defender resolves a major misconception concerning one of our most important historical figures.