From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Psychologist, therapist and former Kinsey sex researcher Tripp—author of the 1975 classic The Homosexual Matrix
—died in May 2003 at the age of 83, just after completing this riveting new study that makes a surprisingly compelling case for Lincoln's bisexuality. Tripp merges a sexual psychologist's knowledge with a prosecutor's eye for evidence as he scrutinizes letters, diaries and oral histories gathered by early Lincoln researchers. Seeing what others either could not or would not, Tripp itemizes in telling detail three homosexual liaisons from different stages of Lincoln's life. The first involved young Billy Green, a frequent bunk mate in New Salem during the 1830s. The second was a passionate union with the aristocratic Kentuckian, and Lincoln's lifelong friend, Joshua Speed in Springfield, Ill., during the 1840s (Tripp notes, refuting others' arguments, that poverty did not necessitate their long-term sharing of a bed). The last involved Capt. David V. Derickson, President Lincoln's bodyguard and intimate companion between September 1862 and April 1863; it is documented that the president shared his bed with him on numerous occasions during Mary Lincoln's frequent absences. Throughout the book, the most important factor is Tripp's knowledgeable sex therapist's eye running over key sources to detect telltale markers missed by previous writers who lacked Tripp's training. An Introduction by Jean Baker (biographer of Mary Todd Lincoln) and concluding comments from Lincoln scholar Michael Chesson help put Tripp's groundbreaking—and sure to be controversial—study into historical context. BOMC, InsightOut Book Club alternates. (Jan. 11)
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Here’s a book that provokes more rebuttals than reviews. Every critic breaks out the textbooks to dispute, distort, and dismiss the evidence. Only The Advocate
comes out with unabashed praise. Otherwise, the critical consensus is that the late Tripp, a former therapist, psychologist, Kinsey associate, and author of The Homosexual Matrix
(1975), twists well-known evidence with an eye on an agenda rather than historical accuracy. More importantly, he doesn’t attempt to answer the trickier question of how Lincoln’s sexual predilections affected his role in American history. Reviewers also mourn Tripp, who passed away in 2003, with wishes that he’d been around to edit the manuscript’s jumpy, uneven prose.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.