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The Intimate World of Abraham Lincolnby C A Tripp
"[G]ay? Abraham Lincoln? How would you ever know? And why would you ever care? Surely there is no president whose sexuality we less want to think about....Yet the virtue of this little book is to get you wondering....In his very naïveté...Tripp compiles a dossier of ambiguities — not truths, but ambiguities — worth considering." Christine Stansell, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
The late C. A. Tripp, a highly regarded sex researcher and colleague of Alfred Kinsey, and author of the runaway bestseller The Homosexual Matrix, devoted the last ten years of his life to an exhaustive study of Abraham Lincoln's writings and of scholarship about Lincoln, in search of hidden keys to his character. In The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, completed just weeks before he died, Tripp offers a full examination of Lincoln's inner life and relationships that, as Dr. Jean Baker argues in the Introduction, "will define the issue for years to come." Throughout this riveting work, new details are revealed about Lincoln's relations with a number of men. Long-standing myths are debunked convincingly — in particular, the myth that Lincoln's one true love was Ann Rutledge, who died tragically young. Ultimately, Tripp argues that Lincoln's unorthodox loves and friendships were tied to his maverick beliefs about religion, slavery, and even ethics and morals. As Tripp argues, Lincoln was an "invert": a man who consistently turned convention on its head, who drew his values not from the dominant conventions of society, but from within.
For years, a whisper campaign has mounted about Abraham Lincoln, focusing on his intimate relationships. He was famously awkward around single women. He was engaged once before Mary Todd, but his fiancée called off the marriage on the grounds that he was "lacking in smaller attentions." His marriage to Mary was troubled. Meanwhile, throughout his adult life, he enjoyed close relationships with a number of men. He shared a bed with Joshua Speed for four years as a young man, and — as Tripp details here — he shared a bed with an army captain while serving in the White House, when Mrs. Lincoln was away. As one Washington socialite commented in her diary, "What stuff!"
This study reaches far beyond a brief about Lincoln's sexuality: it is an attempt to make sense of the whole man, as never before. It includes an Introduction by Jean Baker, biographer of Mary Todd Lincoln, and an Afterword containing reactions by two Lincoln scholars and one clinical psychologist and longtime acquaintance of C.A. Tripp. As Michael Chesson explains in one of the Afterword essays, "Lincoln was different from other men, and he knew it. More telling, virtually every man who knew him at all well, long before he rose to prominence, recognized it. In fact, the men who claimed to know him best, if honest, usually admitted that they did not understand him." Perhaps only now, when conventions of intimacy are so different, so open, and so much less rigid than in Lincoln's day, can Lincoln be fully understood.
"Psychologist, therapist and former Kinsey sex researcher Tripp — author of the 1975 classic The Homosexual Matrix — died in May 2003 at the age of 83, just after completing this riveting new study that makes a surprisingly compelling case for Lincoln's bisexuality. Tripp merges a sexual psychologist's knowledge with a prosecutor's eye for evidence as he scrutinizes letters, diaries and oral histories gathered by early Lincoln researchers. Seeing what others either could not or would not, Tripp itemizes in telling detail three homosexual liaisons from different stages of Lincoln's life. The first involved young Billy Green, a frequent bunk mate in New Salem during the 1830s. The second was a passionate union with the aristocratic Kentuckian, and Lincoln's lifelong friend, Joshua Speed in Springfield, Ill., during the 1840s (Tripp notes, refuting others' arguments, that poverty did not necessitate their long-term sharing of a bed). The last involved Capt. David V. Derickson, President Lincoln's bodyguard and intimate companion between September 1862 and April 1863; it is documented that the president shared his bed with him on numerous occasions during Mary Lincoln's frequent absences. Throughout the book, the most important factor is Tripp's knowledgeable sex therapist's eye running over key sources to detect telltale markers missed by previous writers who lacked Tripp's training. An Introduction by Jean Baker (biographer of Mary Todd Lincoln) and concluding comments from Lincoln scholar Michael Chesson help put Tripp's groundbreaking — and sure to be controversial — study into historical context. BOMC, InsightOut Book Club alternates. (Jan. 11) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"At odds with much scholarship...readers will want to approach this with some reserve. But an intriguing thesis all the same." Kirkus Reviews
"I found Tripp's conclusions not only convincing but, in the light of his evidence, irrefutable. I suspect it will take at least a century for the icon-dusters to face up to the facts of Lincoln's life or, indeed, any life truly, as Socrates might say, examined." Gore Vidal
"Hiding Lincoln's sex life has been an American tradition, but sexuality should never be an embarrassing secret. Dr. Tripp, who learned his research methods from Alfred Kinsey, has brought together amazing data about Lincoln, never before assembled. Finally, the secret can be revealed." George Weinberg, clinical psychologist and author of The Heart of Psychotherapy: A Journey into the Mind and Office of a Therapist at Work
"Tripp's manuscript is such a mishmash of supposition, rumor, half-cooked research and specious reasoning that he assassinates his own case almost as thoroughly as John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln himself....[H]e hopes to construct a nuanced and complicated portrait of an intensely private historical figure, one in which consideration of Lincoln's sexuality helps illuminate the darker corners of his famously opaque personality. Had Tripp lived longer, he might have come at least a little closer to this goal — although it's hard to see how this manuscript's glaring flaws could have been fully redeemed — but the larger point is that the ghost of a much better Lincoln book hovers invisibly above this one." Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
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