Review: Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

lincolnI’ve said it many a time on this blog, but historical fiction isn’t my thing. And while this book isn’t exactly fiction, a lot of the details have been fictionalized. BUT, Lincoln has some mythical draw that piqued my curiosity. The story of how his assassination went down was pretty intriguing. And the way it was told made it palatable for pepole like me, who get easily bored with historical recitations.

The book goes through the final days of the Civil War, lending perspective to both sides as General Lee tried to rally one last time and then realized he had to surrender. Details about the men’s appearances and personal lives made this feel more like a story than a history lesson. The Lincoln assassination takes place just days after the end of the war, which I did not realize.

The reader will also gain perspective into the motives of assassin John Wilkes Booth, who sought infamy for himself and was bitter about the Confederacy’s loss in the war. He was quite a popular actor in his time, so I was thinking that if this took place today that he would probably be the equivalent of like a Brad Pitt or someone like that. Something else I wasn’t aware of was that he didn’t act alone, and there were other murder attempts taking place in Washington D.C. that night. General U.S. Grant was among the original targets, but his wife (who seemed like kind of a bitch) insisted that they leave town. Maybe she had some women’s intuition?

Of course, the entire book is building to the shooting of the great President. When it happens, the authors don’t hold back. There’s blood, there’s brain matter, there’s autopsy results. There’s a description of his dying moments and his agony (he didn’t die right away from the gunshot wound to the head). It’s not pretty, it’s not sugar-coated.

I learned a lot and enjoyed reading this book more than I thought I would. It was surprisingly entertaining, and easily digestible.

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