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The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family

The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family

4.5 47
by Charles Lachman

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Most books about Abraham Lincoln end on April 14, 1865, the day he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre. But that historic event takes place near the beginning of The Last Lincolns, a singular title in the vast output of Lincolnia and one of the most unusual books ever written on the sixteenth president and his family. Going far beyond that fateful


Most books about Abraham Lincoln end on April 14, 1865, the day he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre. But that historic event takes place near the beginning of The Last Lincolns, a singular title in the vast output of Lincolnia and one of the most unusual books ever written on the sixteenth president and his family. Going far beyond that fateful day into uncharted territory, it’s a gripping page turner written by a TV producer with proven storytelling skills.
This absorbing American tragedy tells the largely unknown story of the acrimony that consumed the Lincolns in the months and years that followed the president’s murder. This was not a family that came together in mourning and mutual sadness; instead, they fell out over the anguished mental condition of the widowed Mary. In 1875, Robert—the handsome but resentful eldest Lincoln child—engineered her arrest and forcible commitment to an insane asylum. In each succeeding generation, the Lincolns’ misfortunes multiplied, as a litany of alcohol abuse, squandered fortunes, burned family papers, and outright dissipation led to the downfall of this once-great family.
Charles Lachman traces the story right up to the last generation of Lincoln descendants: great-grandson Bob Lincoln Beckwith, his estranged wife, Annemarie, and her son, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith. Bob, who was according to all medical evidence sterile, believes the son who bears the Lincoln name was the product of an adulterous affair. Annemarie, however, wanted the boy to be a “Lincoln,” putting the child in line for a vast inheritance. There’s even evidence—uncovered by Lachman for the first time—that a scheme to obtain possession of the Lincoln fortune was orchestrated by Bob Beckwith’s chauffer, who may have been the notorious outlaw and skyjacker, D.B. Cooper.
Published in advance of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday in February 2009, The Last Lincolns provides an unforgettable glimpse into the personal legacy left by the man who could unite a nation…but not his own family.



 An Unusual Family History Reveals That:

-Abraham and Mary Lincoln were very lenient with their younger sons—and  rarely imposed discipline on them.
-At age 12, young Tad Lincoln—whose education during the family’s White House years was very lax—could still not read. 
-Eldest son Robert Lincoln objected to the intense attention the media paid to the Lincoln family.
-After her husband’s assassination, Mary Lincoln pleaded for financial assistance from family friends and people in government.
-Mary’s erratic behavior led Robert to swear out a warrant for her arrest and institutionalization.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This engaging book traces three generations of Abraham Lincoln's descendants in the century following his assassination. Lincoln was a larger than life historical figure, and Lachman, a journalist and novelist (In the Name of the Law), presents the lives of Mary Todd and their sons as dramatically as possible: Tad, the rambunctious prankster who grows into a serious, intelligent adolescent while exiled in Europe with his mother; Willie, the Lincolns' golden child, cut down in his youth by typhoid fever; and Robert, the most successful and complex of Lincoln's progeny, a soldier, lawyer, Secretary of War, and caretaker of his aging and increasingly unstable mother. Pulling together an enormous range of historical material, uncovering some little-known family stories-including tales of isolation, agoraphobia and swinging debauchery, as well as a possible connection to infamous, never-captured airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper-Lachman's chronicle is most notable for its liveliness, though more rigorous history buffs may balk at his novel-like prose. Those looking less for academic analysis than popular history-think Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels-will find much to enjoy in Lachman's family album. 16 pages b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Lachman's (executive producer, Inside Edition ) focus on the Lincoln family from after the assassination until as close to the present as a dwindling genealogy allows is not riveting reading. Did this family ever actually "rise"? Surely Lincoln is one of those isolates of history; his family's conduct over the next generations perhaps simply reflects the heartaches and character flaws so many of us share. So to some extent the book's troubles may be blamed on the descendants themselves, starting with Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926), the only one of Lincoln's children to survive to adulthood and a less than appealing personality. His part in the committal of his mother, the grief-stricken and volatile Mary Todd Lincoln, to an asylum is well known (and Lachman praises Jean H. Baker's Mary Todd Lincoln ), as are her subsequent travels domestically and abroad. Lachman himself has to travel nearer and nearer to our time to cover bits of this depressing story that haven't been broadly addressed before. The moral: no one is of interest simply because she or he is descended from someone who was. Lachman himself may know this, which is why he strives to make something of a connection between a Lincoln descendant and lost highjacker D.B. Cooper. For public libraries wishing to extend the focus of their Lincoln collections.-Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal

From the Publisher
“[B]rilliant.” –New York Post

"[T]he history of his family after Lincoln’s assassination provides both historical and dramatic interest. ...Lincoln enthusiasts will ... find much to enjoy here."--Booklist

"[A] fascinating and well-researched family history ... [by] a skilled storyteller."--Publishers Weekly

"[A]n absorbing, well-researched account. …[C]ompelling. … [A]n important and engaging contribution not just to the burgeoning field of Lincoln studies, but to our understanding of American social history." --Jean H. Baker, author of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography

"[A] spellbinding account of Abraham Lincoln’s family." --Frank J. Williams, Founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum, and Chief Justice, Rhode Island Supreme Court

"[An] intimate portrait of decline. Throughout, the contrast between the great President and his descendants—living lives of little social impact or public purpose—is crystal clear."— Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield

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Union Square Press
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The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Tony1954 More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this book and although I will finish it, I found glaring errors in the "history" the author was supposedly writing in regards to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln which will definately cause me to question to what extent and what sources did Mr. Lachman use to research this book. Had he referred to any of the leading Licoln assassination scholars, he would not have made the errors as found. First, Mr. Lachman states at least 4 times that Tad Lincoln was at the National Theater watching the play "Alladin", when he and the White House valet were quietly informed the President had been shot. While it IS correct Tad was attending that play, he was however, at Grovers Theater NOT the National as stated. Someone burst into Grovers and loudly announced Lincoln had been shot at which point Tad became hysterical and was escorted back to the White House. Secondly, the author states Laura Keene, the star of Our American Cousin, the play the Lincolns attended at Fords Theater, stayed with Mary Lincoln at the Peterson house the entire night along with Clara Harris, AND even went with Mary into the bedroom where Lincoln lay dying. Not only did Laura Keene NOT enter the bedroom containing Lincoln, she was NEVER present in the Peterson house that night at all. Mary was attended by her close friend Elizabeth Dixon as well as Clara Harris throughout that long night into the early morning hours of Saturday April 15th. Robert Lincoln was also at her side as he went back and forth between his fathers bedside and his mothers side. Such historical innacuracies found within just the first 20 or so pages of the book lead me to question any and all of the other historical "facts" Mr. Lachman writes in his 400+ pages. If your'e looking for fictional entertainment, this book will fit the bill. If your'e looking for fact-based history, look elswhere.
Kevin Weissenborn More than 1 year ago
An interesting book. There are some innaccurate statements or claims in the book. However, I found the relationship of Mary Lincoln and Robert delivered rather fairly. Unfortunate to read that the descendants of Lincoln did not live to expectations...fair or not. The book is a quick read and I would reccommend the book.
BuffaloGal More than 1 year ago
An avid reader of all things Lincoln, this book answered so many questions about the family, and sadly completed the tale of this great man's very very sad life. How anyone of Lincoln's excellence could sire such decendants is mind-bongling. How they ignored and defamed his legacy is unbelievable. Progeny of the one son whose personality was so different from his great father, Robert Lincoln was a supremely private and snobbish man who reared spoiled, society-driven descendants who neither appreciated nor honored the Lincoln name. Yes, he did love his family and he did honor his father. But he also used the Lincoln name to great advantage. His personality quirks did more to hide Lincoln from the public, than to honor him. And given the lives of his children and grandchildren, one wonders if they EVER EVER talked about their great ancestor! An excellent, edifying, well done book, even if the truth does hurt a bit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! I found this book interesting & well researched. Sometimes I felt it was bogged down with minutia but it still held my attention. This book was able to pull many indiduals & events from the past 150 years into this tale without using a list or actual timeline. Definately worth reading!
TexMexRH More than 1 year ago
If you are interested in history this is the book for you. I found out more things about the Lincoln family then I ever knew existed. I wasn't even aware that he had great great children that were alive during my life time. It was a very interesting book. I could not put it down. There was scandal, greed and even insanity. I highly recommend this book.
dailyread More than 1 year ago
After reading all the reviews, I bought this book to read on my nook. This book is interesting and a page turner. I had no idea that the life of the last Lincolns was so fascinating. I would recommend this book.
jane_f_pedler More than 1 year ago
This gem of a book, which I was fortunate enough to find in Barnes and Noble, kept me wanting to read and read, until I reached the end. It was difficult to put the volume down each time I had to, that I might accomplish everyday things. Filled with facts, quotes and ancedotes about the Lincoln and Todd family lines, from very early times to the 20th century, it also features an excellent photograph section that added even more allure to this book. The Mary Todd Lincoln story, especially, was deeply fascinating, touching, and provocative. One of the all-time best Lincoln books I have come across...recommended highly!
Claire484 More than 1 year ago
The Last Lincolns is not what I expected! I thought it was going to be an outline of history instead, I found an engrossing family saga. The story of the descendants of Abraham Lincoln is absolutely fascinating and so well told. This is a family that was destroyed through madness, secrecy, and self-destructive behavior
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You might expect a family like the Lincolns to have made an extraordinary impact on American life in subsequent generations. This story is the saga of why they did not. It is written in a fast-paced, absorbing and entertaining style and is an utterly compelling story. You will wake up at 4am wanting to know what happens next as it builds to an extraordinary conclusion.
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I really enjoyed this book. What a family!! Very sad how they ended up. Love to read about historical figures. Well worth the $$.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book.
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CF51 More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book about the history of Abraham Lincoln's decendents; although well versed in the life of Abraham Lincoln, the sad decline of Mary Todd Lincoln, and somewhat familiar with the story of his son Robert's life, I knew nothing about the family history beyond that. This is well written and fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Abraham Lincoln and his family.
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This book was fascinating! I couldn't put it down; I read it in two days. It was surprising and sad how the descendants of Lincoln lived their lives and what type of legacy they left. It was certainly not the kind one would expect with a name like Lincoln. This is a must read, even if you are not a history buff.