Reviews for Last Lincolns : The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family
Book News Reviews
Lachman, the producer of a television newsmagazine program, charts the lives of the descendents of Abraham Lincoln. The book is arranged by generation, the first stories being those of Robert, his only surviving son, and Mary Todd Lincoln after her husband's assassination. The next generation, that of Robert's son and two daughters, begins a spiral of wasted lives and privilege. Mary Todd Lincoln's story takes up the first half of the book but has been told in more detail elsewhere. The lives of the descendents read like many stories of less distinguished members of famous families. The final snuffing out of the family is highlighted by a strange tale of a Lincoln chauffeur who tried to swindle the last Lincoln and is rumored to have been the legendary hijacker, D.B. Cooper. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Booklist Reviews 2008 September #1
The progeny of some of our most prominent presidents has been the subject of numerous biographies and historical studies, but no other presidential family rose to the achievement level of the Adams family. Although that is certainly true of the Lincoln family, the history of his family after Lincoln's assassination provides both historical and dramatic interest. Abraham and Mary Lincoln had four sons, but only Robert, the oldest, survived into adulthood and produced his own children. Lachman follows the fate of Lincoln's immediate family and their descendants in an informative survey. The strongest part of the book follows Mary and her sons Robert and Tad in the decades following the assassination. Mary endured the loss of two young children and her husband, veering from bouts of depression to almost hysterical agitation. Tad, who apparently suffered from attention deficit disorder, was illiterate until his teens. Robert, seen by contemporaries as distant and cold, was actually a rock of stability for his family. The narrative lags when Lachman examines Robert's rather uninteresting descendants, but Lincoln enthusiasts will still find much to enjoy here. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews 2008 September #2
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 [Page 63]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
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. (Oct.)