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The Mary Lincoln Enigma


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About the Author

Former Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Frank J. Williams is founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum. He is the author or editor of many books on Abraham Lincoln, including Judging Lincoln and The Living Lincoln.Michael Burkhimer teaches American history in the Haverford, PA, school district. He is the author of 100 Essential Lincoln Books and Lincoln's Christianity.


"Mary Todd Lincoln was controversial while alive, and she remains controversial to this day. Historians at one extreme see her as mentally unstable, corrupt, and abusive to her spouse. At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe she was an intelligent and gifted woman who played a key role in her husband's success. The Mary Lincoln Enigma assembles valuable new contributions to this debate by some of the most eminent experts on Mary and her time. This thought-provoking book belongs on the shelf of everyone interested in the lives of Mary and Abraham Lincoln." --Burrus Carnahan, author of Act of Justice: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War and Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War"This provocative collection goes a long way toward demolishing the one-dimensional caricatures that have dogged Mary Lincoln over the last century and a half. Leaving no controversial subject unaddressed, each chapter brings original research together with the insights of a wide-ranging assortment of experts in history, law, psychiatry, fashion, and the arts, and confronts the enduring myths with hard realities. Sensitively written and multifaceted in focus, this volume eschews simplistic conclusions in favor of opening new questions and embracing conflicting answers about the precise dimensions of Lincoln's life. A compelling and important book about an 'enigmatic' nineteenth-century woman."--Amy Murrell Taylor, author of The Divided Family in Civil War America "The topics and controversies discussed in these pages by a group of talented historians include Mary Lincoln's childhood, views on race, travels, role as first lady, and the tragic aftermath of her husband's assassination. There is a great deal to be learned here, whether one is new to the study of Mrs. Lincoln or seeking to comprehend the latest scholarly debates. Highly recommended!" --Thomas R. Turner, editor of The Lincoln Herald "This splendid, essential book presents a nuanced, sensitive, and kaleidoscopic reconsideration of the life of Mary Todd Lincoln; of her part in our understanding of her husband's life and career; and of her own considerable historical and cultural significance. The first-rate team of scholars contributing to this volume write with clarity, grace, and rigor. Any reader will benefit from this volume's moving reconsideration of one of our most controversial and tragic First Ladies." --R. B. Bernstein, author of The Founding Fathers Reconsidered and Thomas Jefferson

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