Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Full Version: The Turners' Work on Mrs. Lincoln
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I posted this originally on the Assassination thread, but it is more appropriate here:

Dawn referred us to the works of Mr. & Mrs. Turner in order to answer a Parker question. I have always intended to read their work, but have never gotten around to it. What are your opinions on it, if you have read it?
(02-18-2013 03:34 PM)RJNorton Wrote: [ -> ]No, right here is fine, Laurie. I think you will enjoy reading Mary's letters with one caveat....be ready for more commas than you've ever seen in your 49 years!

The Turners include a lot of explanatory text, too, which is very helpful.

I was thinking the same thing, Roger! Laurie, your head might explode from all the commas. I thought mine might, when I read it a couple of years ago. It was one of several old Lincoln books that I had picked up at my library's book sale for 25¢ or 50¢, and was slowly making my way through. I think that was the next-to-last one I read before finally (saving the best for last) taking Jim Bishop with me when I had my surgery on July 7th (!) the following summer. I really didn't have much knowledge of the subject at the time, but, oh my, the money I've spent on assassination- and conspirator-related books since then ...
I believe, from what I've heard, Laurie, that you would find the excessive use of comma's,, quite tiresome. However, who am I to say, as I have not read the book, but merely repeating, in an obnoxious way, some of the comments, althought they have been made with the best of intentions, of others. A comma here, a comma there, some writers will put them, anywhere. Besides, english, and especially punctuation, wasn't one of my better subjects.
(02-18-2013 05:17 PM)Gene C Wrote: [ -> ]I believe, from what I've heard, Laurie, that you would find the excessive use of comma's,, quite tiresome. However, who am I to say, as I have not read the book, but merely repeating, in an obnoxious way, some of the comments, althought they have been made with the best of intentions, of others. A comma here, a comma there, some writers will put them, anywhere. Besides, english, and especially punctuation, wasn't one of my better subjects.

But, Gene, at least your commas kind of make sense! Hers make none whatsoever! (and I know, me too)
Assuming you mean the 1972 work by Justin and Linda Leavitt Turner, I think it's a very well-done work. There is ample narrative sprinkled throughout the book, and while it leans sympathetic toward Mary, it is well-written and easily readable.

While the narrative is fast-moving, obviously, the letters aren't. But they do show the many dimensions to Mary's personality, and often show a warmer side of her that is not always appreciated.

I would recommend the book to anyone, and think it really adds to Mary Todd Lincoln literature.
Dawn, I couldn't help seeing what you paid for your copy. I can see that I paid $30 at an antiquarian bookstore about 20 years ago. You got a great deal, Dawn.
(02-18-2013 06:04 PM)RJNorton Wrote: [ -> ]Dawn, I couldn't help seeing what you paid for your copy. I can see that I paid $30 at an antiquarian bookstore about 20 years ago. You got a great deal, Dawn.

Thank goodness I don't have any antiquarian book stores nearby, or I would surely be in big trouble! I am a little embarrassed at how much I have spent in the last year-and-a-half, and my family and friends all think I am a little nuts. But I do have to say, I have a lot to show for it. Between the library, thrift stores, flea markets, Amazon Marketplace, and even Surratt House's used book table, I have managed to score some really goods finds. I have been a busy little bee, trying to catch up to all of your libraries that you all used to show off. Every time someone starts another "favorite" or "first" or "most influential" book thread, I'm off again ...
Stick with me, Gene, I'll get you caught up on where to put commas in no time. And Dawn, the day I declare bankruptcy, I will be listing the case as "excessive purchasing of history books."

Tom - Anything that shows some sympathy to Mrs. Lincoln I have to read. Looks like I'll be investing yet again...
The Turner's book, Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters is fabulous because it is Mary - her words - her thoughts - her commas - her dashes. What more could we want? I keep a copy on my desk, and if you read many of my posts here, you will see that I quote from it often.
I second Donna. Just reading about her experiences and travels in Europe is worth the cost of the book.
Moving on to another book -- Terry Alford's long-awaited Fortune's Fool, what I believe will be the best Booth biography to date, is due out this fall. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area on Tuesday, March 5, Terry will be giving a talk from 6-8 pm on "Lincoln and Booth: One Mad Act and Its Expiation" at the Morrison House in Alexandria, Virginia. He's already on the "Must Have" list for the Surratt conference in 2014.

Terry maintains a low profile, but those of us who know him know that he was honored several years ago by the State of Virginia as the recipient of the State Council on Higher Education's Outstanding Faculty of Virginia Award. He also served as a consultant to Spielberg's Lincoln and has appeared on 20/20, ABC News, the History Channel, the Discovery Network, and PBS.
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