Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Hardcover 315 pages.
If you’d like to honor Presidents Day, pick up the book Killing Lincoln, described as the “story of how one gunshot changed the world forever.” Most of us know that, but what I didn’t know before reading this thriller (yes, it could be called that) were the many behind- the- scene dramas unfolding in Washington.
Maybe you were a better history student than I was, but I was not aware of how volatile the climate in America was at the end of the Civil War, weeks before the assassination. I never knew the family background of the charismatic actor, John Booth. And what specific issues was President Lincoln struggling with at the time of his death? We gain even greater insight into this remarkable man’s character as evidenced by his courageous behaviors days before the assassination. And on a personal level, what is expected of him from wife Mary Todd Lincoln. She has tickets to see the play Our American Cousin and although Lincoln would have preferred to see Aladdin, he would never do anything to upset Mary’s unstable psyche.
This human drama unfolds like a Grisham can’t- put -down thriller even though we know the unfortunate and heart-wrenching ending. There are also specific details such as what last-minute change in Ford Theatre’s decor caused Booth to injure himself that night to the extent that he required a doctor’s care (Dr. Mudd, origin of “your name is Mudd” ). Was there a greater conspiracy and how many other victims were targeted that night? All fascinating.
The book includes photos and a fact-filled appendix that includes the re-creation of Harper’s Weekly April 29, 1865 edition devoted entirely to the death and assassination of President Lincoln.
I recommend this book to all who love our country and wish it were a part of high-school curriculum that would make American history come alive for students. It’s a great read of a national tragedy that left me wishing I had known President Lincoln and realizing what a great loss to us even today.