lincoln's billy book coverReviewed by Len Steiner

INITIAL GENERAL COMMENTS: Tom LeClair, an experienced author and reviewer for the New York Times and other publications has scored a huge historical plus with his revealing novel about Abraham Lincoln as supposedly revealed by Lincoln’s law partner and closest confidant. He reveals facts and anecdotes about one of our most revered presidents that are not only interesting but also very amusing and down-to-earth. The author discloses comments and dialogue plus stories about Honest Abe that unmask the great man and normalize and humanize his personality. This is very enjoyable and informative reading.

SPECIFIC COMMENTS: Lincoln’s Billy outlines and relates Lincoln’s early life and contrasts him with the contemporaries of the period. It also “humanizes” the man by relating such Lincolnesque attributes as his Kentucky twang, his love of relating “stories” and small talk on numerous subjects that were of interest to everyone in his captive audience. The book strips all of the covering from Abe Lincoln and bares his common and down-to-earth personality as told by a very close friend and partner. The author does an excellent job of telling the story as related by the partner and includes pages of entertaining dialogue and enlightening prose. It also covers his relationship with his “difficult” wife, Mary Todd. Lincoln’s Billy is a must read for anyone that enjoys history, oratory, humor, and down-to-earth dialogue. Some of it is even a slight bit on the bawdy side.

What is the best part of the book?: The best part of the book that refers to “Abe the Lover” concerns Lincoln’s visit to a so-called “local girl.” “Lincoln went to see the girl with a note from me, and she agreed to satisfy him. Things went on right. Lincoln and the girl stript off and went to bed. Before anything was done, Lincoln said to the girl, ‘How much do you charge?’ ‘Five dollars,” she said. Lincoln said, ‘I’ve only got three dollars.’ ‘Well,’ said the girl, ‘I’ll trust you, Mr. Lincoln, for two dollars.’ Lincoln thought for a moment and said, ‘I do not wish to go on credit. I’m poor and I don’t know where my next dollar will come from and I cannot afford to cheat you.’ Lincoln got up out of bed and the girl said, ‘Mr. Lincoln, you are the most conscientious man I ever saw.” Now that is an excellent and human example of Abraham Lincoln.

Additional comments on plot, characters, language, etc?: The book is unique in that it provides excellent and unique characterization of all of the main individuals in the novel including an in-depth depiction of Abraham Lincoln that is revealing, amusing, interesting, and surprising. Lincoln, one of the most revered presidents of the United States, is shown as a normal human being with normal interests, concerns, and desires based on true facts supposedly compiled and related by a close confidant. LeClair does not exaggerate but tells the real story of a great man of history. This book should be a must read for everyone.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Len is a published writer, is retired military, and lives in Alabama. He also worked for fifteen years in government and private industry as a Senior Technical Writer. He is an active member of three writer’s organizations.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.