A revisionist's view of the maligned Mary Todd Lincoln, usually portrayed as a shrew of doubtful sanity, is offered by Goucher College history professor Baker (Affairs of Party, etc.) in this richly documented and sympathetic study. Mary, an orphaned, well-educated, but socially unpopular, Lexington, Ky., aristocrat, was vulnerable to the suit of the outwardly uncouth Lincoln. During their Springfield years she bore him four sons and, despite their opposite natures, appears to have provided a comfortable home life and support for his political ambitions. As first lady, she was much criticized for her alleged extravagances on clothes, entertaining and redecoration of the shabby White House. A dedicated spiritualist, Mary made mourning for her dead husband and two sons a permanent condition, causing some to conclude that excessive grief had deranged her mind. Several months of her last tormented years were spent in an asylum to which her son Robert had her committed, unjustly, according to the author, followed by four years of voluntary exile abroad, from which she returned shortly before her death in 1882 in Springfield. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club and QPBC alternates. (August 17pditto?