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Shattered Dreams: The Story of Mary Todd Lincoln

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Mary Todd Lincoln's heartbreaking story is told in a dramatic and exciting manner, but the pace slows as Collins disgresses into details of her husband's political career. It's no wonder, as a list of Lincoln's opponents in various elections could never be as fascinating as his wife's experiences of love, grief, and ultimate madness. The account is related with very little fictionalizing, but primary sources are noticeably lacking. Letters are quoted only occasionally, and the bibliography lists only other biographies of Abraham or Mary Todd Lincoln. Collins's tone is often judgmental as he makes assertions that he fails to back up. He claims, ``Women, especially, were quick to believe the worst about the First Lady,'' but does not indicate how he knows this. In recounting Mary Todd Lincoln's reaction to Abraham's assassination, he writes, ``Mary Todd Lincoln was not behaving in a normal way,'' and then goes on to describe what sounds like perfectly normal behavior for a grieving widow who has lost her sons, her father, her husband, and her home. This lack of background persists throughout the book. While the author repeats the cruel rumors that were circulated about his subject in her time, he does not explain the social climate that allowed them to flourish. Nevertheless, he does offer the basic outline of the life of a tragic historical figure.-Rebecca O'Connell, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Jeanne Triner
After opening dramatically with Mrs. Lincoln's insanity trial in Chicago, Collins takes us back to her roots in Lexington, Kentucky, and follows the trail of her troubled, tragic life through to her death. By interweaving carefully chosen anecdotes with historical fact, he paints a sympathetic picture of a vain and spoiled but also bright and ambitious woman whose support and encouragement helped her husband to become president. The writing is clear and easy to follow, though some of the "insights" into Mrs. Lincoln's character are restated in ways that detract from their initial impact. The material is well chosen so as to be informative as well as interesting, but the biography may have to be booktalked to gain its deserved readership. Full-page, black-and-white photos break up the text, and the brief index is more than adequate to make the volume usable for research projects. A solid choice for both biography and women-in-history studies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883846077
  • Publisher: Morgan Reynolds Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Series: Notable Americans Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.71 (w) x 8.71 (h) x 0.57 (d)

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