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The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family Hardcover – October 7, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Union Square Press (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402758901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402758904
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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.

From School 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

This book is very heavily researched and provides a wealth of information.
G.I Gurdjieff
Most of the book centered around Robert Lincoln the only son who survived to adulthood and his relationship to his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln.
S. Neidigh
My 1st book originally purchased about Abraham and the 1st one that returned to me was this book.
Kenneth A Dunning

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Alan Gates on April 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Charles Lachman has written an entertaining, titillating book. I will grant him that. However, throughout the "biography" Lachman chose to go the salacious route even with information that has been readily debunked. While this may be suitable for a tabloid show such as "Inside Edition", it is NOT suitable when it comes to history. The facts are fascinating in their own right, but when the truth is not juicy enough, apparently Lachman would rather run with the fiction.

Much of the information cited within this book is available in other published forms. Lachman's research seems to be comprised primarily of cutting and pasting from other books. His entire section regarding Mary Todd Lincoln's institutionalization is cleverly lifted from Jean Baker's "Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography" with a dash of Jason Emerson's "The Madness of Mary Lincoln". The main problem with this approach is that Lachman, ever striving for juicy tabloid fodder, uses the slanted inaccurate perspective of Baker's biography when discussing the trial. Baker's "male chauvinistic society" perspective blinds her to the fact that Mary Lincoln was not well, nor should she be after losing three children at young ages and having her husband murdered before her eyes, she needed help and it was out of concern and love that Robert acted in the manner he did. How do we know this? Because of his letters. Because of letters to Robert from concerned family and friends begging Robert to do something. Because of letters from experts at the time in Mental Health who are warning Robert she could do harm to herself. These are the facts of the time. Not sociological perspectives slanted by personal bias.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
and readable biography of Abraham Lincoln's widow, children, grandchildren, and, lastly, great-grandchildren, in the years following Lincoln's murder in 1865. Robert Todd Lincoln, the surviving son of four, is really the main character in this book, from his easy relationship with his father to his rather tortured on with his mother.
The children and grandchildren are Robert Todd Lincoln's and none came to particularly happy endings after particularly unhappy and unfulfilled lives.

I can't stress enough how readable this book is - no, I'm NOT being paid!. It's either very well written or very well edited, probably both, actually!
It's very rare to sit down and just enjoy a piece of non-fiction as I did with this book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Literary Lady on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading other Lincoln biographies I thought there was very little family information to be gleaned from another one but I was wrong. This held my attention from the first page to the last; even the events that are well known were written in an interesting manner. New approach to the last day of Lincoln's life, the home surroundings and observed interaction between the family members, the understanding of variables of the period such as political climate, health habits and knowledge, living conditions, etc. Not dry at all, really comes to life.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Charles Lachman has done an incredibly thorough job of researching and writing a page turner on the Lincoln legacy. The book is dynamic, well-organized and truly entertaining. Historians and non-historians alike will enjoy the breakthrough journalism and compelling narrative.
I highly recommend this book. It would also be great for book clubs.
I could not put it down!
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Format: Hardcover
When Lincoln died, he left his widow Mary Todd Lincoln and two sons. Robert Todd Lincoln was in his early twenties, a Harvard graduate and a Captain on U.S. Grant's staff. Tad was still a young spoiled over indulged boy. In December 1985, the death of Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith ended the Lincoln line. The book starts with the murder of Abraham Lincoln and follows his family for the next 120 years. This is the part of the Lincoln story that we do not often read about. While getting snippets of it from one source or another, until now, we did not have the full story. This excellent book gives us the story in an intelligent highly readable format. The author writes about a number of unfortunate events and distasteful people without falling into sensationalism or moralizing. This is no small accomplishment considering the history and the individuals involved.
Abraham Lincoln saw two sons die as boys. His son Tad died a few years after the assassination of an unspecified illness. Robert Todd Lincoln, a very private person, who historians love to hate, was the only son to reach adulthood. The majority of the book deals with Robert and his mother Mary Todd Lincoln. This is a difficult contentious relationship made all the worse since his mother and wife disliked each other. The book tells all. From protecting Abraham Lincoln's image, and Robert's too, Mary Lincoln's quest for more income, shopping trips, living in Europe and the infamous insanity trail. Neither party is innocent nor acting from the best motivates. The author is more sympathetic to Mary but pulls no punches when writing about the problems she caused everyone close to her. His treatment of Robert is closer to the normal view of a very private man, who seems to have had a difficult time with his father.
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