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Lincoln and Medicine

Lincoln and Medicine

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Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein


Hardcover (Other formats: E-book)
152 pages, 5 x 8, 5 illustrations

Concise Lincoln Library


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About the Book

The life of America’s sixteenth president has continued to fascinate the public since his tragic death. Now, Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein unveils an engaging volume on the medical history of the Lincoln family. Lincoln and Medicine,the first work on the subject in nearly eighty years, investigates the most enduring controversies about Lincoln’s mental health, physical history, and assassination; the conditions that afflicted his wife and children, both before and after his death; and Lincoln’s relationship with the medical field during the Civil War, both as commander-in-chief and on a personal level.

Since his assassination in 1865, Lincoln has been diagnosed with no less than seventeen conditions by doctors, historians, and researchers, including congestive heart failure, epilepsy, Marfan syndrome, and mercury poisoning. Schroeder-Lein offers objective scrutiny of the numerous speculations and medical mysteries that continue to be associated with the president’s physical and mental health, from the recent interest in testing Lincoln’s DNA and theories that he was homosexual, to analysis of the deep depressions, accidents, and illnesses that plagued his early years. Set within the broader context of the prevailing medical knowledge and remedies of the era, Lincoln and Medicine takes into account new perspectives on the medical history of Abraham Lincoln and his family, offering an absorbing and informative view into a much-mythologized, yet underinvestigated, dimension of one of the nation’s most famous leaders.

Best of the Best by the Univeristy Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2013


Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein is manuscripts librarian for the non-Lincoln manuscripts at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. Her previous publications include The Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine, Confederate Hospitals on the Move: Samuel H. Stout and the Army of Tennessee, and Andrew Johnson: A Biographical Companion (with Richard Zuczek).


"Lincoln and Medicine examines the medical history and health issues of America's sixteenth president, noting controversies about his life that engage debate up to the present day. From allegations that Lincoln was homosexual, to psychoanalysis of his deep depressions, the accidents and bouts of illness that he struggled with during the earlier years of his life, and even the actions taken by the first responders when Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theatre (which prolonged Lincoln's life for nine hours), Lincoln and Medicine is a fascinating history accessible to readers of all backgrounds." —Midwest Book Review

“In this thoroughly documented study, Glenna Schroeder-Lein presents a fresh investigation into the medical history of Abraham Lincoln and his family. Applying sound methodology, current medical science, and prudent judgment, the author offers the best account to date of the health aspects of arguably America’s most important national figure. This book will not disappoint. Those generally interested in Lincoln, Mary Todd, and the premature deaths of their sons Edward, Willie, and Tad will find it a fascinating and informative read. Lincoln and Medicine gives an insightful glimpse into the life and character of America’s sixteenth president and those closest to him. Lincoln scholars will ignore this book at their peril.” —Michael A. Flannery, author of Well Satisfied with My Position: The Civil War Journal of Spencer Bonsall and Civil War Pharmacy

"Dr. Schroeder-Lein has scored another ace with Lincoln and Medicine. This book examines many of the controversies surrounding Lincoln’s health and his attitudes toward medicine. A must for any Lincolnite and those interested in nineteenth-century medicine.” —Peter J. D’Onofrio, president of the Society of Civil War Surgeons

"Abraham Lincoln is America’s favorite president and medical patient. Many physical and mental conditions have been ascribed to the sixteenth president. Glenna Schroeder-Lein carefully examines the claims and offers convincing conclusions. While Lincoln certainly didn’t hunt vampires, this is a book that anyone can sink their teeth into.” —Dr. Thomas F. Schwartz, director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum