The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage

While I mostly read fiction, every once in awhile, a biography will sneak its way into my stacks. Daniel Mark Epstein’s The Lincoln’s:  Portrait of a Marriage has been on my list for awhile, and finally made it to the top.


My struggle with biographies is that, while I find the details interesting, often times I get impatient with them. If they are about someone I’ve already studied, I am always rushing to the parts where I know what is happening. In this case, it’s the election, Willie’s death, and obviously, Lincoln’s assassination. When I do that, sometimes I miss the whole purpose of the biography–learning pieces of the puzzle that I never knew before.

I already knew that Mary Todd Lincoln had a psychological breakdown after Abraham died. However, I had no idea just how deep her psychosis went while he was alive. Epstein describes in detail all of her struggles, of which there are many–she had obsessions with money especially, often overspending and embezzling government funds. She was a horrible First Lady! There was a lot of scandal wrapped up in what I’ve always been taught to be an upstanding, honest couple.

Non-fiction is always a little droll for me, but I did learn a lot by reading this, and that was its purpose. If you like biographies, I would recommend this one.