Published by Henry Holt on September 27, 2011
Genres: Adult, Historical, Non Fiction
The anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.
In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.
What I Thought…
I found this book to be utterly fascinating. Prior to reading this book I didn’t really know that much about the Lincoln assassination. I knew it was a conspiracy but I didn’t fully understand the scope of what was planned. I also didn’t know that there were still some unanswered questions about how was involved or how much they were involved. I liked how the book was written, more like a story, less like a textbook of facts.
The first part of the book details the end of the Civil War. This was the part of the book I liked the least. It was very descriptive and necessary to the book, but it didn’t really grab my attention. It was interesting to read about the last battles now that I am living in Virginia, where they took place. It definitely put how far the soldiers traveled on foot into perspective.
The middle of the book was dedicated to the assassination of President Lincoln. This was the best part of the book. It not only detailed Lincoln’s movements the day he was assassinated but also Booth’s conspiracy. Booth was a meticulous planner and manipulated many of the other people involved in the conspiracy to do things his way. It also highlights some of the suspicious actions by people who were never accused of having a part in the assassination.
The last part of the book details the capture of those involved. Some of them were caught out of sheer stupidity (and alcohol), others were chased, and some stuck around thinking they were ok. I felt a little sorry for Marry Surratt. While she was certainly not guilt free, I’m not sure she played a big enough part to be executed.