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Posted May 5, 2012
Frederic Hunter is a great find. His Abe and Molly is one of the finest histories I’ve encountered on Lincoln, combining recollections, anecdotes, and detailed research on Lincoln and his courtship of Mary (“Molly”) Todd in Springfield in 1840. It is no surprise that historian James McPherson offered kudos for the novel. Hunter portrays Abe and Mary in their crucial young adult years, as they really were, showing what they were like and how their characters were formed. We see Lincoln’s nervousness and indecisiveness around women, his humility, solidity, natural wit, and ambition, and Mary’s flirtatious nature, her more “modern woman” interest in politics, and her attraction to Lincoln from the start. She is a positive character. Beyond the romance, which is the story tying the novel together, there is a wonderful historical chronicle of the times. We get a ground-eye view of Whig politics of the era, of the Presidential campaign of 1840, and the political beginnings for Lincoln coming off the Black Hawk war. We get the best picture ever of life on the frontier, the circuit riding, the dances and competition for women, the drinking, the dueling, the migrations from Kentucky. And, we get a good view of Stephen Douglas and Lincoln’s legal colleagues. We see the pathos of Lincoln circuit riding, defending a young farm boy who killed a co-worker that had threatened him, and the background of Lincoln’s tough childhood, losing his mother, the family living in a lean-to in Indiana, having to become a man at age eight, later cutting logs and selling them down river. A wonderful story and history, a real inside look. Can’t wait to read more Hunter.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.