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
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.
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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