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The Addiction of Mary Todd Lincoln Paperback – April 3, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ANNE E. BEIDLER is a former director of Family House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a doctorate in educational research from Lehigh University. In addition to The Addiction of Mary Todd Lincoln, she is also author of Eating Owen, a historical novel.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Coffeetown Press (April 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603810218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603810210
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,199,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I find it interesting that in all the many volumes written about Mary, no one seriously considered the possibility of addiction. The author paints a clear, authentic picture of the pervasive use of unregulated opiates, alcohol and the mixing of the two in the 19th century (and before), due to the ignorance of the long-term effects of the chemicals, and ignorance of the pathology of addiction in general. The author points out the fact that at this time, there were no "rehabs"--addicts who couldn't function had to go to insane asylums, and the only way to get there was to be declared legally "insane." That Mary was a woman in pain is well-documented; that the common treatment for pain at that time was some form of opiate is also well-documented. So, to infer that she could be addicted was not a big leap, and certainly no less than to infer that she was manic-depressive. At best, it's all an educated guess. She could have been all these things.

Contrary to the previous poster, I found the author to have treated this subject with much compassion--more than any other write I have read on the subject. Having been an addict herself, Ms. Beiler does not disparage addicts, nor does she disparage Mary. My favorite chapter, in fact, is "To Sum Up", in which Ms. Beiler writes an imaginary letter to Mary, encouraging her in the way she should have been but probably never was, ie, that she was a brave woman to have left her affluent life to live with a penniless man, to give up her servants and care for her home and children herself (an arduous task in the 19th century)while her husband was never around. She had courage in that, although from the south, she openly opposed slavery and refused to own slaves, which alienated her from her family and the entire south during the Civil War.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It is an interesting insight into what may be behind the stories that circulate about Mary Todd Lincoln. Her trial for insanity and what seemed liked crazy uncontrollable behaviour. Even if that doesn't appeal to the reader the book also contains a clear if harsh look upon addiction in this century and previous ones. It gives examples of signs and symptoms of addiction. The writer has compiled a timeline and excerpts of letters than show a Mary who battled with severe migraine attacks. In those days she would have been prescribed an opiate for her pain. An addiction would explain a lot of her erratic behaviour and violent outbursts. If so wouldn't the son have chosen to send her to a sanatorium to recover rather than having her stand trial and declared insane. Although it contained a lot of information the book seemes very opinionated rather than fact proven. It also seemed quite jaded towards addicts. I felt it also lacked a sense of compassion for the events that scarred Marys life. Her mother died when she was six, three of her four children died and her husband was murdered. That would drive any sane person round the bend, with or without the use of opiates.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was fascinating because of the little known insight into a largely misunderstood figure in American history. This account is well written with some personal perspectives from the author. (My husband, who is not a reader, even enjoyed reading this one "over my shoulder".)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I could not stop reading this amazing story. I highly recommend it. This book should be a mandatory read to those who are prescribing opiates and some people who just don't take the drugs as required. It is a delima. At first the opiates help with the pain, then with long time abuse, the pain is no longer being treated, and creates more pain. Mary Todd Lincoln is thought to have also been suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder. That makes sense. When she is in a manic high, she over spends, she entertains over the top and causes her husband no end of problems. Then when something bad happens, as when her son dies in the White House, she has no grasp on reality to get her through and the roller coaster of emotions and the opiates take her into a deep depression.
How Mary was able to function at all is beyond me. She seems to become an inconvenient bother, by many who judged her. Mrs. Keckley, who was her malatto dress maker, friend and confidant. was the only person she could truely depend on. And in a way, as Elizabeth Keckley put it, paraphrasing, she was the only one who gave her positive re-enforcement by telling her, "You are courageous". Somewhere in her deluded mind there was still some part of the independent young woman who was going to marry a president.
I think everyone in this sad, co-dependent scenerio, were doing their best, to take care of Mary. Unfortunately, the long abuse of a the opiates, that were given to her regularly, and with No Betty Ford Clinics in sight, her family and friend had to make do with what they had. That was deeming her leagaly insane, putting her in an Insane Assylum and quieting her outbursts with Morphine. What a tragedy for the pretty young woman who was bright, politically savvy and was from a well to do family with money and the means to have the world at her feet.
I hope you like it as much as I did. Diana
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We read this book for our book club before the movie Lincoln came out. We were all so excited to learn more about the First Lady and her struggles with addiction. This book, with obvious good intentions, was very redundant explaining Mary Todd's addiction to morphine and explaining signs of being an addict. I felt after reading the first chapter I had the point of the book. Each chapter repeated the same point over and over and was exhausting to read. I felt as if I were reading a high school essay and became restless and bored with each chapter. This book could have been summed up in a two page essay and not a redundant "book."
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