"A striking success…the account of the White House years is absorbing, the account of Mary Lincoln's life as a widow utterly compelling." —New York Times
This definitive biography of Mary Todd Lincoln beautifully conveys her tumultuous life and times. A privileged daughter of the proud clan that founded Lexington, Kentucky, Mary fell into a stormy romance with the raw Illinois attorney Abraham Lincoln. For twenty-five years the Lincolns forged opposing temperaments into a tolerant, loving marriage. Even as the nation suffered secession and civil war, Mary experienced the tragedies of losing three of her four children and then her husband. An insanity trial orchestrated by her surviving son led to her confinement in an asylum. Mary Todd Lincoln is still often portrayed in one dimension, as the stereotype of the best-hated faults of all women. Here her life is restored for us whole.
A revisionist's view of the maligned Mary Todd Lincoln, usually portrayed as a shrew of doubtful sanity, is offered by Goucher College history professor Baker (Affairs of Party, etc.) in this richly documented and sympathetic study. Mary, an orphaned, well-educated, but socially unpopular, Lexington, Ky., aristocrat, was vulnerable to the suit of the outwardly uncouth Lincoln. During their Springfield years she bore him four sons and, despite their opposite natures, appears to have provided a comfortable home life and support for his political ambitions. As first lady, she was much criticized for her alleged extravagances on clothes, entertaining and redecoration of the shabby White House. A dedicated spiritualist, Mary made mourning for her dead husband and two sons a permanent condition, causing some to conclude that excessive grief had deranged her mind. Several months of her last tormented years were spent in an asylum to which her son Robert had her committed, unjustly, according to the author, followed by four years of voluntary exile abroad, from which she returned shortly before her death in 1882 in Springfield. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club and QPBC alternates. (August 17pditto?