Stephen Berry's astonishing claim that no book has ever before traced the saga of a single family that illustrates the often spoken phrase brother against brother makes his choice of Lincoln and his wife's family as the subject for the first such book both ironic and welcome.
Much of the story covered in House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, a Family Divided by War is well-known, especially the simple fact that three of Mary Todd Lincoln's brothers fought (and two died) for the Confederacy, causing many to suspect her of sympathizing with the enemy and even of active disloyalty. The complex drama of life in the White House during the war years was aggravated by the lingering effect of the earlier years of marital conflicts, the stresses and strains emanating from the differing backgrounds and personalities of Abe and Mary, and illness and death in the family. Lincoln's absence from and his melancholy presence in the home became worse during his presidency; Mary's erratic behavior as first lady and her neurotic grief over the death of their son accelerated the forces of division within the household.
The subject and scope of House of Abraham may or may not be as original as Berry claims, but it is a very well-researched and well-written Lincoln chronicle.