Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FATHER ABRAHAM by Harold Holzer

FATHER ABRAHAM

Lincoln and His Sons

By Harold Holzer

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59078-303-0
Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Trailing the stampede of Lincoln-bicentennial studies, this profile of “the clan that might have become America’s royal family but instead became America’s cursed family” offers both a wagonload of fascinating period photos and a case study in domestic tragedy and dysfunction. Leading Lincoln scholar Holzer portrays his presidential paterfamilias as an absentee saint—away on business for much of his four sons’ formative years but ever loving and gentle with his notably histrionic wife and an indulgent pushover who let his lads run hog wild. Conversely, though devastated by 3-year-old Eddie’s death in 1850 and 11-year-old Willie’s in 1862, his relations with Robert (the eldest and the only child to live past his teens, presented here as thoroughly unlikable) were distant at best. If the author sometimes hobbles his narrative with fussy details, he also tucks in such intimate touches as samples of homely verse from both parents and children and finishes off with quick looks at all of the direct descendants. A natural companion for Candace Fleming’s fine The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary (2008). (endnotes, adult-level bibliography) (Biography. 11-14)