100 books like The Mary Lincoln Enigma

By Frank J. Williams (editor), Michael Burkhimer (editor),

Here are 100 books that The Mary Lincoln Enigma fans have personally recommended if you like The Mary Lincoln Enigma. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Mrs. Lincoln: A Life

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

While Mary Lincoln (although we often call her "Mary Todd Lincoln," she preferred "Mary Lincoln," "Mrs. Abraham Lincoln," or the unassuming "Mrs. A. Lincoln") has been the subject of several biographies, this is my favorite, and one which I always used as my first resource when checking a fact or looking for a reference about Mary Lincoln. It's readable, well-sourced, and sympathetic toward its subject without veering into hagiography or being overly indulgent of Mary's foibles.

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mrs. Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This engaging, wonderfully written narrative provides fresh insight into this complex woman. It is a triumph.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

Catherine Clinton, author of the award-winning Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, returns with Mrs. Lincoln, the first new biography in almost 20 years of Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the most enigmatic First Ladies in American history. Called “fascinating” by Ken Burns and “spirited and fast-paced” by the Boston Globe, Mrs. Lincoln is a meticulously researched and long overdue addition to the historical record. In the words of Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis, Mrs. Lincoln “is distinctive for its abiding…


Book cover of Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case: A Documentary History

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

In 1875, the nation was shocked when Robert Lincoln, by then the only surviving son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, began proceedings to have his mother declared insane by an Illinois jury. As a result, Mary spent several months in a private asylum before she managed to regain her freedom. In this book, Jason Emerson collects family correspondence, newspaper accounts, asylum progress reports, and other documents, allowing us to review the evidence for this tragic, often luridly misrepresented period of Mary Lincoln's life. As someone who likes to consult primary sources whenever possible, I found it invaluable.

By Jason Emerson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1875 Mary Lincoln, the widow of a revered president, was committed to an insane asylum by her son, Robert. The trial that preceded her internment was a subject of keen national interest. The focus of public attention since Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860, Mary Lincoln had attracted plentiful criticism and visible scorn from much of the public, who perceived her as spoiled, a spendthrift, and even too much of a Southern sympathizer. Widespread scrutiny only increased following her husband's assassination in 1865 and her son Tad's death six years later, after which her overwhelming grief led to the increasingly…


Book cover of House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, a Family Divided by War

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

When Abraham Lincoln came to Washington to assume the presidency, he was surrounded not by members of his own family, but by his wife's. Some of the Todds would remain loyal to the Union; others would fight for (and die for) the Confederacy; a few would find themselves hopelessly pulled between the two sides. I found this to be an absorbing story of the sprawling, quarrelsome Kentucky clan who helped shape Mary and whose division mirrored that of the nation.

By Stephen Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked House of Abraham as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Addressing the personal costs of a family divided by the Civil War, a historian focuses on Mary Todd Lincoln's family, whose loyalties were split between the Union and Confederacy, examining the influence of the Todd family saga on how Lincoln approached the war and his humanistic dealings with the shared tragedy on both sides of the Civil War.


Book cover of Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters

Charles B. Strozier Author Of Lincoln's Quest for Union

From my list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got my first job as a professor of history in 1972 in Springfield, Illinois, at a new university there. What can you do in Springfield except work on Lincoln? The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Lincoln draws you in. His lively mind and always well-written letters, along with his brilliant and memorable speeches, are endlessly fascinating. He also had genuine integrity as a human being and as a leader in our greatest crisis as a country. It is hard not to be inspired by Abraham Lincoln.

Charles' book list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst

Charles B. Strozier Why did Charles love this book?

Mary Todd Lincoln has been seriously misunderstood by most observers (including her most recent biographer). She was in fact a smart, lively, well-educated woman whom Lincoln loved and to whom he was emotionally drawn. Her troubled personality led to some distance between her and her husband in the 1850s, and her post-assassination despair grew in large part from the unrelenting criticism she endured. This definitive collection of her letters, interspersed with excellent biographical information, contextualizes the documents in a highly readable volume. Mary Todd Lincoln deserves our close and sympathetic attention.

By Justin G. Turner, Linda Levitt Turner, Mary Todd Lincoln

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mary Todd Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The personal correspondences of Mary Todd Lincoln create an intimate portrait of her life and marriage to Lincoln as well as her struggles after his death


Book cover of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Lisa Ard Author Of Brighter Than Her Fears

From my list on historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a well-written historical fiction novel that immerses me in the time period and introduces a female character I can relate to. We may live in different times, but women in all eras feel love, attempt and fail, find strength, perform heroic deeds,  suffer mishaps, and experience life. Escaping into their stories makes me question what I would have done in their shoes as well as think about how my own story is still being written. As a historical fiction author, I seek to create those relationships between my characters and readers.

Lisa's book list on historical fiction with a strong female lead

Lisa Ard Why did Lisa love this book?

Imagine a former slave working in the White House before and after Emancipation. What conversations were heard? How was she treated? Did she feel safe or threatened?

Chiaverini dives into the interiority of Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker's story, the conflicts, the battles, the personal dreams and aspirations, the friendship and falling out around a historical figure few know.

A riveting story.

By Jennifer Chiaverini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters and Canary Girls unveils the private lives of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, through the eyes of the First Lady's most trusted confidante and friend in this compelling historical novel.

In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion.

A sweeping historical novel,…


Book cover of Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons

Mary C. Brennan Author Of Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady

From my list on why Pat Nixon was known (incorrectly) as Plastic Pat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a historian because I am nosy. I like to know what is going on in other people’s lives. I study politics because I am fascinated by power—who has it? How did they get it? I took up this project not knowing much about First Ladies or Pat Nixon. My quest to know more led to the correspondence between Pat and her closest friend. The letters in these files allowed me to hear Pat’s voice describe her life as a politician’s wife, as Second Lady, and as a regular citizen. I feel privileged to be able to share that with the world.

Mary's book list on why Pat Nixon was known (incorrectly) as Plastic Pat

Mary C. Brennan Why did Mary love this book?

Out of the myriad of books analyzing presidential marriages, this volume, in my opinion, does the best job of showing an in-depth view of the Nixons’ relationship. Troy acknowledges the stereotypes and caricatures of the couple, puts these misrepresentations in context, and then reveals a much more balanced view of the Nixon marriage. He never forgets that a marriage involves both partners!

By Gil Troy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. and Mrs. President as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The emergence of the presidential couple is one of the most contentious developments in US post-war political history. Reaction to the First Couple reflects the country's changing morality and attitudes. This work traces these shifts through ten presidential marriages, including the Clintons.


Book cover of The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

Christopher Beauregard Emery Author Of White House Usher: Stories from the Inside

From my list on from-a-white-house-insiders-perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my twenty-nine nears in the federal government, I maintained a Top Secret clearance while being a CIO, Chief Architect, & Director of various things with the White House, US Congress, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice, where I served in a senior management role for the National Security Division, the agency responsible for serving as the liaison between the Attorney General and the Intelligence Community. Today, my passion is writing about my White House experiences, in both fiction and non-fiction.

Christopher's book list on from-a-white-house-insiders-perspective

Christopher Beauregard Emery Why did Christopher love this book?

This is a New York Times bestseller that details the inner workings of the White House. Superbly written with wonderful anecdotes and authentic stories about the White House staff and historical events. I was very pleased to be interviewed for this book. The author, Kate Anderson Brower, has written several books about the White House, and I would rate all of them highly.

By Kate Andersen Brower,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Residence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable history with elements of both In the President's Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. America's First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers,…


Book cover of Abigail Adams: A Life

Cassandra Good Author Of First Family: George Washington's Heirs and the Making of America

From my list on the fascinating families of America’s founders.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I loved reading books about time travel, and now as a historian, I do a sort of time travel for my job. I have always been especially drawn to reading women’s correspondence, particularly when the women involved were pushing against gender roles and finding ways to access political power. I approach doing history as if it’s an ethnography of a group of people with entirely different beliefs, norms, and even emotions from us today; after all, the past is a foreign country. I’m especially intrigued by uncovering how personal relationships worked in the past and how relationships with political figures allowed family and friends to access power.

Cassandra's book list on the fascinating families of America’s founders

Cassandra Good Why did Cassandra love this book?

Abigail Adams comes to life here in ways no previous books have captured: her wit, business acumen, and political power are woven together in a compelling story.

As the wife of one president and mother of another, Abigail’s power and influence are on full display, and defied gender norms. It’s hard not to come away from Holton’s book admiring the woman John Adams sometimes called “Presidante.”

By Woody Holton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abigail Adams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this new, vivid, nuanced portrait, now in paperback, prize-winning historian Woody Holton uses original sources and letters for the first time in a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams's life story and of women's roles in the creation of the republic.

In this vivid new biography of Abigail Adams, the most illustrious woman of the founding era, Bancroft Award–winning historian Woody Holton offers a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams’s life story and of women’s roles in the creation of the republic.

Using previously overlooked documents from numerous archives, Abigail Adams shows that the wife of the second president of the United States…


Book cover of The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia

Nancy Woloch Author Of Eleanor Roosevelt: In Her Words: On Women, Politics, Leadership, and Lessons from Life

From my list on Eleanor Roosevelt, her life and works.

Why am I passionate about this?

Eleanor Roosevelt loved to teach history and she must have been really good at it. As a historian with a specialty in U.S. women’s history, I love exploring the life and impact of Eleanor Roosevelt. It's a rewarding way to experience the early decades of the 20th century, to gain familiarity with the culture, issues, and politics of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and, while so doing, to meet up with an astonishingly talented group of writers and scholars who have made their own inquiries into Eleanor Roosevelt’s life and works. Studies of ER now constitute a thriving subfield in scholarship and publishing; it's a privilege to be part of it.

Nancy's book list on Eleanor Roosevelt, her life and works

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

An inspired reference book, ideal reader’s companion, and invaluable guide to further investigation of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life, time, interests, passions, friends, enemies, and relationships. And most important, a perfect gift for any Roosevelt admirer! Even the most casual reader can open the pages at random, discover some fascinating entry, and become utterly immersed in one of ER’s experiences and absorbed in the contents of the book. Diversions abound! I cannot praise this unique and impressive volume too highly.

By Maurine Hoffman Beasley, Holly Cowan Shulman, Henry R. Beasley

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perhaps the most important woman in 20th century America, Eleanor Roosevelt fascinates scholar and layperson alike. This exciting encyclopedia brings together basic information illuminating her complex career and making the interaction between her private and public lives accessible to scholars, students, and the general public. Written by scholars-including the most eminent Eleanor Roosevelt and New Deal scholars-journalists, and those who knew her, the 200 plus entries in this book provide easy access to material showing how Eleanor Roosevelt changed the First Lady's role in politics, widened opportunities for women, became a liberal leader during the Cold War era, and served…


Book cover of The Times of My Life

Scott Kaufman Author Of Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford

From my list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 16 years old, my father, Burton Kaufman, who is also a historian, took me to the Jimmy Carter Library in Georgia to help him research a book on America's thirty-ninth president. Having had a love of history since the sixth grade, that trip deepened my desire to major in History in college and teach it as a profession. It also made me interested in learning more about the presidency, starting with Carter. Several years ago, I edited a series of essays on both the Ford and Carter presidencies, and realized there was need for an in-depth political biography of our thirty-eighth chief executive. The result was my book on Ford.

Scott's book list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Why did Scott love this book?

While Gerald Ford’s memoir is useful, I liked Betty’s even more because of her candor. She tells the story of the wife of a congressman, vice president, and president who struggled with loneliness as her husband focused on climbing up the political ranks. His absenteeism contributed to her struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction. Suddenly thrust into the role of First Lady, Betty publicized her fight against breast cancera disease that up to that point had received little public attentionand sought to walk the fine line between acting as White House hostess and drawing attention to issues of women’s rights. 

By Betty Ford, Chris Chase,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Times of My Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This former First Lady candidly describes her life, her unhappy first marriage, her courtship and marriage with Gerald Ford, their independent children, and her battle with cancer


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