Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"The Last Lincolns" and Books I Haven't Read Yet.

As I mentioned a short time ago, I need a new category tag entitled "Books I Haven't Read Yet," so that I can offer unqualified recommendations and initiate uninformed discussion and opinions on books that look interesting but which I may or may not actually get around to reading.

Here is one such book, entitled "The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family," by Charles Lachman.

Here is a blurb from the publisher:

Most books about Abraham Lincoln end on April 14, 1865, the day he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre. But that historic event takes place near the beginning of The Last Lincolns, a singular title in the vast output of Lincolnia and one of the most unusual books ever written on the sixteenth president and his family. Going far beyond that fateful day into uncharted territory, it's a gripping page turner written by a TV producer with proven storytelling skills. This absorbing American tragedy tells the largely unknown story of the acrimony that consumed the Lincolns in the months and years that followed the president's murder. This was not a family that came together in mourning and mutual sadness; instead, they fell out over the anguished mental condition of the widowed Mary. In 1875, Robert — the handsome but resentful eldest Lincoln child — engineered her arrest and forcible commitment to an insane asylum. In each succeeding generation, the Lincolns' misfortunes multiplied, as a litany of alcohol abuse, squandered fortunes, burned family papers, and outright dissipation led to the downfall of this once-great family.

Charles Lachman traces the story right up to the last generation of Lincoln descendants: great-grandson Bob Lincoln Beckwith, his estranged wife, Annemarie, and her son, Timothy Lincoln Beckwith. Bob, who was according to all medical evidence sterile, believes the son who bears the Lincoln name was the product of an adulterous affair. Annemarie, however, wanted the boy to be a "Lincoln," putting the child in line for a vast inheritance. There's even evidence — uncovered by Lachman for the first time — that a scheme to obtain possession of the Lincoln fortune was orchestrated by Bob Beckwith's chauffeur, who may have been the notorious outlaw and skyjacker, D.B. Cooper.

Published in advance of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday in February 2009, The Last Lincolns provides an unforgettable glimpse into the personal legacy left by the man who could unite a nation…but not his own family.

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