Now Daniel Mark Epstein has produced an incisive and balanced portrait of the Lincolns, from their mysterious and troubled courtship in 1840 to his assassination in Ford's Theatre in 1865. For the first time, we can feel the full force of the tragedy that was the slow crumbling of their marriage, knowing it intimately from the first act to the last.
©2008 Daniel Mark Epstein; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
"Intent on eroding the stereotype that Mary was mad and Abraham was saintly, Epstein utilizes some new sources to create a portrait of the Lincolns' marriage. In coolly objective tones, Adam Grupper narrates Epstein's detailed account of the couple's early years.... His informative reading fits the text well." (AudioFile)
It is difficult to conceive of circumstances more likely to strain a relationship than that endured by the Lincolns during their 22 year marriage, beset as they were by tragedies both personal and national. Add to this the unstable personality of Mary Todd and that of Lincoln who appears to have been prone to depression in an era predating any real understanding of psychiatry, and you have a portrait of a marriage of true affection and interdependence marred by periods of intense strife and mistrust.
In some respects the Lincolns' marriage seems a microcosm of the Civil War which racked the nation during Lincoln's presidency. In both cases we can see a Lincoln committed to a union between two parties whom he believed belonged together--two parties who were stronger together than apart. And in both cases his compassion and affection far outweigh his frustration and anger at the "rebellious" party. As for Mary, despite her fears, insecurities and emotional/mental instability, we can see that her commitment to her husband and what he stood for was total, if at times misguided.
The author does an excellent job of collecting all available evidence of the character of the Lincolns' relationship and the characters of Mary Todd as wife and Lincoln as husband. The book drags a bit in the years covering the period between the Lincolns' marriage and Lincoln's election as President, and the narration is serviceable though lackluster. Overall however, this book is recommended as an invaluable addition to our understanding of Lincoln, the man and the President, and of the darkest years of United Sates history.
I would like to get this book in print becasue it is probably interesting but trying to keep all the characters straight in the audio version proved impossible for me. I was unable to make myself finish!
I am currently enjoying this audiobook, but I have to say that Peter Weller's delivery is a bit sing-song and nasal for my tastes.
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