In 1974 the historian Fawn Brodie predicted that a “sensitive study of the Lincoln marriage will not always defy biographers”. Until now, it has. The only book-length treatment of the marriage was published in 1953, when scholars lacked today’s resources and were still struggling with deep-seated prejudices about Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln.
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.