Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


Scholars' Library: Jonathan Shapiro on 'How to be Abe Lincoln'

Scholars' Library: Jonathan Shapiro on 'How to be Abe Lincoln'

23 April 2024

17:30 - 18:30 (GMT+01:00)

Online Platform


Is Abraham Lincoln Still Relevant? Join Jonathan for a conversation on 'How To Be Abe Lincoln: Seven Steps Toward Leading a Legendary Life'

This event is free and open to the public.

For our April event, in conversation with fellow Scholar Lucas Tse (Hong Kong & Hertford 2018) Jonathan Shapiro (California & Oriel 1985) will discuss his newest book How to be Abe Lincoln: Seven Steps Toward Leading a Legendary Life. Amongst other topics, Jonathan will discuss questions such as: Does Lincoln still matter? Why is laughter the first step to being Lincoln? and how would Lincoln handle our current political climate?

How to Be Abe Lincoln shows us how to survive our dangerously fractious age, one that is too often unmoored from truth, ignorant of facts, and unwilling to do the hard work of becoming better. It is written for those who don't just admire Lincoln but want to emulate his rational, practical approach to law, love, leadership, and life. It identifies the seven steps that made Abe Lincoln legendary and teaches you how to follow them.

'This is an invaluable, genre-defying book. Leavened with great humor, it treats Lincoln not only as a giant of history, but, far more uniquely, as the human we should all strive to be.' - Scott Turow #1 New York Times bestselling author

You can purchase Jonathan's book here.

Jonathan Shapiro (California & Oriel 1985) for the last 24 years, has written and produced a number of iconic legal dramas. He is the recipient of the Emmy, Peabody, Humanitas, and American Film Institute awards. Co-creator and executive producer of the Amazon Prime series Goliath (Golden Globe winner for Best Actor, Billy Bob Thornton), his work also includes HBO’s The Undoing (Emmy nominations for Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant), NBC’s The Blacklist (five seasons), Audience’s Mr. Mercedes, based on the novels of Stephen King, Life (starring Damien Lewis), and The Firm, also for NBC, as well as ABC’s Boston Legal and The Practice, among others.

In 2014, Shapiro wrote and produced his first film. Narrated by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “Fair and Free” was made with support from the National Association of Women Judges. In 2018, Shapiro’s first play, Sisters in Law, about the lives of O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg premiered in Phoenix, Arizona, attended by two of O’Connor’s sons. It has since enjoyed seven successful, sold out runs throughout the U.S., including the upcoming New York production in April 2024.

Shapiro is the author of three books: How to Be Abe Lincoln: Seven Steps to Leading a Legendary Life (ABA Publishing, Oct. 2024), the novel Deadly Force (Ankerwycke Press, 2015) and the memoir Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling (ABA Press, 2014). He taught for over 10 years as an adjunct law professor at the UCLA School of Law, U.S.C.’s Gould School of Law, and Loyola Law School.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer and producer, Shapiro spent a decade trying cases as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division, Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. In the early 2000, Shapiro was appointed by Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Ronald George to serve on the CJA’s Commission on Impartial Courts, as well as the state’s Bench, Bar and Media Committee. In 2006, Shapiro was appointed by the California State Senate to two four-year terms as a member and later chairman of the California Commission on Government Economy and Efficiency. He is also the founder and director of the Public Counsel Emergency for Torture Victims.

A graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Shapiro received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He is married to television writer/producer Betsy Borns (Roseanne, Friends, All of Us). Shapiro and Borns are currently creating an American version of the ITV series Vera. The couple have three children.

Lucas Tse (Hong Kong & Hertford 2018) is a DPhil candidate and an Examination Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. His current research is on China and international organisations in the mid-20th century.


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Q & A:

Please feel free to submit any questions in advance to or you can use the Q&A function within Zoom to ask questions directly during the live event.

There is no cost to attend this event, and we hope that all will join us! If you would like to support The Rhodes Trust, please consider giving time through volunteering, or giving a gift to the Scholars Fund. If you are interested in our volunteering opportunities, they can be found on our website.

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Part of the Lifelong Fellowship portfolio, The Scholars’ Library is a monthly book talk series, where Rhodes alumni can come together to present, discover and debate their literary works. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to Georgie Thurston at