American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies



American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies It Is A Tale As Familiar As Our History Primers A Deranged Actor, John Wilkes Booth, Killed Abraham Lincoln In Ford S Theatre, Escaped On Foot, And Eluded Capture For Twelve Days Until He Met His Fiery End In A Virginia Tobacco Barn In The National Hysteria That Followed, Eight Others Were Arrested And Tried Four Of Those Were Executed, Four Imprisoned Therein Lie All The Classic Elements Of A Great Thriller But The Untold Tale Is Even Fascinating.Now, In American Brutus, Michael W Kauffman, One Of The Foremost Lincoln Assassination Authorities, Takes Familiar History To A Deeper Level, Offering An Unprecedented, Authoritative Account Of The Lincoln Murder Conspiracy Working From A Staggering Array Of Archival Sources And New Research, Kauffman Sheds New Light On The Background And Motives Of John Wilkes Booth, The Mechanics Of His Plot To Topple The Union Government, And The Trials And Fates Of The Conspirators.Piece By Piece, Kauffman Explains And Corrects Common Misperceptions And Analyzes The Political Motivation Behind Booth S Plan To Unseat Lincoln, In Whom The Assassin Saw A Treacherous Autocrat, An American Caesar In Preparing His Study, Kauffman Spared No Effort Getting At The Truth He Even Lived In Booth S House, And Re Created Key Parts Of Booth S Escape Thanks To Kauffman S Discoveries, Readers Will Have A New Understanding Of This Defining Event In Our Nation S History, And They Will Come To See How Public Sentiment About Booth At The Time Of The Assassination And Ever Since Has Made An Accurate Account Of His Actions And Motives Next To Impossible Until Now.In Nearly 140 Years There Has Been An Overwhelming Body Of Literature On The Lincoln Assassination, Much Of It Incomplete And Oftentimes Contradictory In American Brutus, Kauffman Finally Makes Sense Of An Incident Whose Causes And Effects Reverberate To This Day Provocative, Absorbing, Utterly Cogent, At Times Controversial, This Will Become The Definitive Text On A Watershed Event In American History From The Hardcover Edition.

10 thoughts on “American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies

  1. says:

    American Brutus might cause to stop dead in their tracks any history writers planning explorations of similar territory How am I going to top that they d ask Answer You very likely never could Michael Kauffman s exploration of John Wilkes Booth and his conspiracies and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln seems to cover it all.Shame on me for judging a book I haven t read yet but own , but James Swanson s Manhunt, which came four years after Kauffman s book, seems to be the mainstrea American Brutus might cause to stop dead in their tracks any history writers planning explorations of similar territory How am I going to top that they d ask Answer You very likely never could Michael Kauffman s exploration of John Wilkes Booth and his conspiracies and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln seems to cover it all.Shame on me for judging a book I haven t read yet but own , but James Swanson s Manhunt, which came four years after Kauffman s book, seems to be the mainstream alternative to American Brutus The volume of reviews for Swanson s book here and its lack of footnotes tag it as mass audience history The truth is, I don t see how it or any other work could surpass Kauffman s book, which has several revelations For completeness and detail, American Brutus is amazing It is extraordinarily detailed I hesitate to use the word exhaustive because it implies, well, exhaustion it s instead endlessly fascinating for those interested in delving deeply into the death of America s 16th president and the man who dramatically carried it out.Kauffman s 2004 book contains astonishing research, and the author in fact uncovered a few details overlooked by others, and a thorough analysis of the events leads us down some fascinating roads Kauffman suggests that Booth did not break his leg in the leap from the president s theater box after shooting him, but later, when his horse fell on him in the escape American Brutus 4.5 stars, rounded up for thoroughness starts with the assassination itself, but that is just the beginning, of course What we get is an almost minute by minute chronicling of authorities reaction and search, the viewpoints of the many witnesses, and the onion peeling of Booth s several plots Kauffman presents not a static, Booth as villain portrayal of the killer, but a nuanced, revealing look at the evolution of a charismatic Marylander with Southern sympathies who, in effect, turns his back on his own succeessful life to follow his dark beliefs Kauffman gives emphasis to just how clever Booth was in incriminating others and ensuring the fealty of the other conspirators Well aware of the laws of the times, Booth realized how easy it would be to surreptitiously involve others in his plot, making them unable to speak against him, even if they were not an active part of it, without implicating themselves The most well known of these moves was Booth s note to Vice President Andrew Johnson that implied a relationship, but Kauffman digs much deeper In detailed description, we see the movements of Booth and those in his web David Herold, Lewis Powell, Mary Surratt and George Atzerodt to name those who died for their involvement , but also of people who may not have had a working knowledge of what exactly Booth was up to The plural of the subtitle conspiracies is deliberate Booth s machinations, stretching over most of a year, initially yielded a plot to kidnap Lincoln, transport him to the Southern capital and use him as currency to free Rebel prisoners And the assassination plot itself, of course, could have been far, far worse A vicious attack on Secretary of State William Seward could easily have ended in his death, and the planned slayings of Johnson and Gen Ulysses Grant never came off.It s astonishing to us today to think how little protection the president had in the 19th century The White House was a public building then ordinary citizens could visit anytime they wanted Lincoln had virtually no security at Ford s Theater, and traveled to the country almost completely unprotected Booth s plot to kidnap him in the country, though foiled, would have been relatively easy I love the way Kauffman starts with the assassination and the sometimes chicken with its head cut off actions of the shocked authorities in its aftermath, and the gradual death of Lincoln, then turns to a short biography of Booth that goes chronologically until we re back in Ford s Theater much later as the foul deed is done Kauffman s research meticulously follows Booth in his travels as the plots slowly take shape Booth was one of the most famous actors in America, who at one point was making 25,000 to 30,000 a year in the 1860s but squandered most of his money in his dogged plotting.Then, of course, it s the manhunt, the trials, the aftermath, what happened to the entire cast in the years that followed the central event of their lives Included in this wrapping up is the fascinating detail that Booth s brother Edwin, also an actor, was nearly shot on stage in 1879.The book also excellently captures the social, political and legal climate of the times Instead of just a blow by blow of the trials, Kauffman explains just how different American law was in the 1860s, how stacked against the defendants things were, especially in the trial before a military commission that the plotters faced American Brutus drags a little in the trial section, and maybe a wee bit during the manhunt for Booth, but it s never less than interesting I also came away with an imperfect understanding of Ford Theater s layout, particularly the president s box but that s a quibble Along the way are astonishing little details that make you shake your head in wonder John Mathews, who worked at Ford s Theater, stayed across the street at the Petersen house he came home to find Booth stretched on his bed, the same bed in which Lincoln, hustled across the street after the shooting, soon would die That Kauffman reveals this last bit of holy shit information in parenthetical form gives you an idea of the ordinary wonders of this story.Yes, American Brutus is the definitive story of Booth and the Lincoln assassination

  2. says:

    I picked up this book after reading a review of Manhunt which said that it wasn t as good as American Brutus I never did read Manhunt but American Brutus is a very interesting history, covering not only the assassination, but also giving a thorough biography of Booth as well as covering the post assasination trials of the conspirators There is an interesting stucture to the book The first part IIRC covers the lead up to the assasination from the viewpoint of Booth The next section I picked up this book after reading a review of Manhunt which said that it wasn t as good as American Brutus I never did read Manhunt but American Brutus is a very interesting history, covering not only the assassination, but also giving a thorough biography of Booth as well as covering the post assasination trials of the conspirators There is an interesting stucture to the book The first part IIRC covers the lead up to the assasination from the viewpoint of Booth The next section covers a history of Booth and the other conspirators Then there is a section that follows the immediate activities from the assasination through the events of the manhunt, but told from the point of view of the Federal officials I may have a section swapped into the wrong place but the basic point is that the story doesn t constantly jump back and forth between the conspirators to the Federals The book is a bit hard to follow at times because of all the characters and the fact that at times they are assuming aliases, but overall it s a facinating look not just at the bare facts of the assasination, but also delves into the Booth family, Washington politics and the attempt afterwards for many of the participants to color their own versions of the facts to emphasis their roles or cover up their blunders The author takes great pains to identify his sources and the value or lack thereof he places on them, making the book interesting in yet another aspect, that being how a historian tries to change bare and conflicting facts into a cohesive narrative

  3. says:

    Tough book to review I nearly quit at the beginning but it got much better after that, but the book must be judged by the whole, not the part The topic is interesting, a generational favorite as people struggle to figure out why Booth killed Lincoln The pace of this book is twofold The beginning of the book is super slow and frankly boring It s part of the reason I nearly quit reading However, the last three quarters of the book moves along well The writing is again twofold The beginning Tough book to review I nearly quit at the beginning but it got much better after that, but the book must be judged by the whole, not the part The topic is interesting, a generational favorite as people struggle to figure out why Booth killed Lincoln The pace of this book is twofold The beginning of the book is super slow and frankly boring It s part of the reason I nearly quit reading However, the last three quarters of the book moves along well The writing is again twofold The beginning is dull and slow the over description of Ford s, the killing and Lincoln s death is told in excruciating detail and dull prose it made me quit the book for a while Once past the death and on to Booth and the conspiracy, the book s writing becomes readable and is in fact, compelling It s as if two different writers wrote the sections This was a clear case of awful editing The analysis is good as the book takes a neutral stand Booth s folly is shown in his character and actions without being overly judgmental other than to point out obvious stupidity That said, the beginning of the book really disappointed, the rest was, as they say, crackerjack So, I m going to give this book a 3 The beginning is just awful The rest is really good So, I split the difference with a bias towards bad because a book simply can t start out bad and expect to keep the reader s interest With sound editing at the start, this could have been a 4 or even 5 books

  4. says:

    Michael Kauffman provides a very detailed look at the Lincoln assassination and all of the members involved from the planning to their manhunt and the results that followed Don t let the title fool you This is farthan just a biography of John Wilkes Booth Kaufmann pulls along voluminous sources of primary information to explore the build up of the conspiracy from the debates about whether or not to kidnap the president and finally the plan to kill him at Ford s Theater The author piece Michael Kauffman provides a very detailed look at the Lincoln assassination and all of the members involved from the planning to their manhunt and the results that followed Don t let the title fool you This is farthan just a biography of John Wilkes Booth Kaufmann pulls along voluminous sources of primary information to explore the build up of the conspiracy from the debates about whether or not to kidnap the president and finally the plan to kill him at Ford s Theater The author pieces together much of the planning information and provides a clear flow of events from the Stuart boarding house to the plans laid at Ford s Theater on the famed night From Booth s time as an actor on the stage to his struggling loyalties to the South the stage was set for the assassination The book also tracks the other facets of the attacks on Seward and the planned attacks on other government members that ended in failure.The second half of the book focuses on the escape of the assailants and the efforts of Stanton s war department to bring them to justice As the fugitives fled in all directions and some not even leaving DC the war department sent orders to all troops to block roads and deploy cavalry Amazingly John Wilkes Booth and his compatriots still escape the city As they flee to what they hope will be a sympathetic South they find that southerners have turned against them and are horrified by his actions As detectives are brought in from all over the country and one of the largest investigations in American history is launched hundreds of people are swept up for questioning and many will be held as material witnesses to the crime Booth is shot and killed at a farm near Orange VA but his co conspirator is caught with him and brought to trial along with many others including Mary Stuart who will become the first female to be executed by the Federal Government Kauffman also spends time covering the military tribunals that tried the conspirators and condemned four of them to death and several others to imprisonment on a remote island in the Gulf of Mexico.Overall this is an extremely well written book that is filled with detail on the assassination efforts of the conspirators and their manhunt It is gripping and holds the readers interest while providing a host of details Easily the best book to start with on the assassination and well worth an addition to any Civil War Library

  5. says:

    I ve read quite a few books about Lincoln but almost all of those books obviously end with his death, so I ve never really known much about John Wilkes Booth He was an actor he killed Lincoln in Ford s theatre he was treated for a broken leg by Dr Mudd and he was shot dead in a barn That s pretty much the sum of it So this book was a real revelation to me, not just about Booth himself but about how many other people were involved in the conspiracy.I had always assumed Booth was a Souther I ve read quite a few books about Lincoln but almost all of those books obviously end with his death, so I ve never really known much about John Wilkes Booth He was an actor he killed Lincoln in Ford s theatre he was treated for a broken leg by Dr Mudd and he was shot dead in a barn That s pretty much the sum of it So this book was a real revelation to me, not just about Booth himself but about how many other people were involved in the conspiracy.I had always assumed Booth was a Southern sympathiser driven to assassinate Lincoln by the defeat of the South in the Civil War I never knew, for example, that Booth and his fellow plotters planned originally only to capture Lincoln, but once the war ended Booth decided to kill him I never knew that plans were laid to kill Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward too I never knew the number of people Booth drew into his plan, knowing that under the law of the day accomplices to a crime could not testify against one another Booth deliberately incriminated a great number of mostly innocent people as an insurance policy, including Vice President Johnson himself.This is a fascinating read, and the sheer volume of research required to write it is very evident Unlike the JFK assassination, for example, where the truth has been lost amidst the avalanche of evidence and counter evidence, plots and conspiracy theories, the truth about who killed Lincoln has never been in doubt But the details of how and why and who else was involved has been ignored and dismissed over the years, probably because there was so little doubt that the man ultimately responsible was apprehended and killed

  6. says:

    The impression this book left me with is that the author, Michael W Kauffman has to be somewhat obsessed with the Lincoln Assassination His apparent level of detailed knowledge of people, events, timelines, past experts, explanations, and information sources is incredible Also, he presents some very interesting and unique takes on certain fact and events, disputing a number of supposedly established facts expanations i.e Booth s broken leg was not from the jump to the stage but a riding acc The impression this book left me with is that the author, Michael W Kauffman has to be somewhat obsessed with the Lincoln Assassination His apparent level of detailed knowledge of people, events, timelines, past experts, explanations, and information sources is incredible Also, he presents some very interesting and unique takes on certain fact and events, disputing a number of supposedly established facts expanations i.e Booth s broken leg was not from the jump to the stage but a riding accident For that, he deserves 4 or 5 stars.But the problems with the book are the incredible detail, the lack of a main theme, repetition, and its ultimate length I was drowning trying to keep things straight, wondering why there were so many bunny trails, and why he needed to follow multiple story lines This included Booth s biography, plotting the act, the conspiracy, Lincolns elaborate funeral odyssey, the conspirators trial, and a coda in which numerous people involved in the story had the rest of their lives summarized The book was too long by half, badly needing editing Alternatively, it should have been broken up into two or even three books the conspiracy, Booth s story, and the trial government incompetence.Ultimately, I give the book 2.5 or 3 stars There are better written books on this subject

  7. says:

    This book is not, as I expected, a biography of John Wilkes Booth, but a thorough account of the Lincoln assassination with an extensive backstory on Booth.The assassination, and the conspiracy behind it, have fascinated us for years, but too many of the books about it are poorly researched and rely on the author s personal biases for facts This has resulted in a great deal of misinformation becoming accepted as truth The author of American Brutus has been careful to use primary sources for hi This book is not, as I expected, a biography of John Wilkes Booth, but a thorough account of the Lincoln assassination with an extensive backstory on Booth.The assassination, and the conspiracy behind it, have fascinated us for years, but too many of the books about it are poorly researched and rely on the author s personal biases for facts This has resulted in a great deal of misinformation becoming accepted as truth The author of American Brutus has been careful to use primary sources for his decisions on what actually happened, and when a fact is in doubt, he analyzes the evidence to come to a conclusion But the narrative is anything but dry Kauffman writes vividly and puts the reader right on the scene He gives us a much fuller picture of Booth than most histories do someone who was not a monster, a lunatic, or a pawn of other interests, but a warm and sensitive man who became consumed by his passion for the Confederacy and hatred of Lincoln I would have likedinformation about his stage career, but all in all this book is wonderfully enlightening I must add, though, that the publisher s choice of photograph for the jacket is very odd, since as Kauffman explains it was considered by those who knew him to be a poor likeness

  8. says:

    Extremely thorough look at a very sad time in American history I found this book to be riveting in parts and dry and over detailed in other parts There were a LOT of people involved in the conspiracy, the chase, and the trial afterwards, and I found it a struggle to keep everyone straight maybe a list of people in the front of the book would have been helpful If you want to get a full understanding of Booth and the assassination of Lincoln, this would probably be your best choice Michael Extremely thorough look at a very sad time in American history I found this book to be riveting in parts and dry and over detailed in other parts There were a LOT of people involved in the conspiracy, the chase, and the trial afterwards, and I found it a struggle to keep everyone straight maybe a list of people in the front of the book would have been helpful If you want to get a full understanding of Booth and the assassination of Lincoln, this would probably be your best choice Michael Kauffman leaves NO stone unturned It is a evocative, sad, and enlightening book I was left with a lot to ponder over

  9. says:

    This is an excellent and thought provoking book, not a biography of John Wilkes Booth so much as it is a dissection of Lincoln s assassination everything that can be reconstructed about the events that led up to it and the events that followed Kauffman works intensively with primary sources, collating and correlating affidavits and testimony and letters and diaries and memoirs, talking carefully about discrepancies and contradictions, talking about the primary sources that did exist but are no This is an excellent and thought provoking book, not a biography of John Wilkes Booth so much as it is a dissection of Lincoln s assassination everything that can be reconstructed about the events that led up to it and the events that followed Kauffman works intensively with primary sources, collating and correlating affidavits and testimony and letters and diaries and memoirs, talking carefully about discrepancies and contradictions, talking about the primary sources that did exist but are now lost, talking about why people said the things they did.I learned a great deal about John Wilkes Booth, the most important thing being that Booth was a liar Nothing he said and nothing he wrote is remotely trustworthy He lied to everyone around him and I m pretty sure he spent most of his life lying to himself Kauffman is particularly interested in the way that Booth implicated innocent people in his plotting For example, he took one friend out riding around Washington, loudly pointing out what good escape routes would be The friend didn t realize until much later that Booth was making it look like they were discussing a plot against Lincoln Booth did this routinely to people whom he felt were a threat to him, giving himself blackmail material against them should they discover his plans Thatthan anything, that premeditated and carefully executed cruelty, makes me unable to feel any charity towards John Wilkes Booth.Kauffman talks a lot about tyrannicide, which is what Booth thought he was doing, pointing out that a lot of pro Confederate newspapers in both North and South were talking about Marcus Junius Brutus and William Tell, about the justified killing of out of control tyrants And given the way Lincoln s administration was dancing a vigorous can can on the US Constitution and given the fact that many people not just John Wilkes Booth thought that Lincoln had had the 1864 election rigged, so that there was no legal way to get him out of office, although it s in stark contrast to the way Lincoln is now viewed, I can see how Booth came to think of him as a tyrant and to think of murdering him as tyrannicide, not somethingbase The most incisive sentence in this book, to me, is The irony was inescapable Booth had hoped to kill Lincoln on the Ides and highlight his resemblance to Caesar but instead, he shot him on Good Friday, and the world compared him to Christ 251 This, in a beautiful nutshell, both explains Booth s lofty sense of self importance and the way that his plan crashed down around his ears.There s also a certain poetic justice to it Booth seems to have been a man without any sense of irony whatsoever The best example is one that also gets used in Manhunt The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln s Killer, where Booth, writing to his mother, describes himself as a slave because he had to work in the North Any white American male who was capable, as Booth was capable in the 1860s, of making 30,000 a year 421,348.16 today if you adjust for inflationthe mere comparison is ludicrous But Booth is absolutely serious that is genuinely how wronged and oppressed he felt he was.That lack of irony also explains one of the things that I find most interesting about Booth and his evolving scheme He started out with a plan to kidnap Lincoln this was in the days before the Secret Service or any sense that the President needed to be guarded murdering the President of the United States wasn t even made a federal crime until 1965 and Lincoln was known for riding out of town completely by himself, so the idea itself was not inherently implausible, and Booth was not the only one who came up with it but that plan metamorphosed as he failed to carry it out and the Confederate position became worse and worse He went from kidnapping the President in an isolated place out in the country to kidnapping the President in a theater He had an elaborate scheme about who would lift Lincoln down from the box to the stage which is blackly hilarious Lincoln was 6 4 , and even though he was 56, they discovered at his autopsy that he still had the upper body of a powerful athlete I would like to have seen Booth and Surratt and Powell trying it And then, after Appomattox, his plan metamorphosed again, from kidnap to murder But, and this is the interesting thing to me, why a theater It seems, as Booth s co conspirators argued vehemently, the worst possible location for a kidnapping even for murder, it s highly counterintuitive, although Booth made it work But why would a professional actor from a family of professional actors, who had played theaters across the US and had theatrical friends everywhere, choose his professional home as the perfect place for assassination tyrannicide There are two different ways to answer that question One is to point out that Booth, being both a professional actor and an inveterate liar, and being also a person with an vastly inflated sense of his own importance, someone who essentially saw himself as being on stage in front of a rapt audience all the time, inevitably thought about his plot as a play After all, he remembered to declare Sic semper tyrannis as he jumped from the box to the stage and Kauffman notes that Booth , in actual performance of actual plays, liked to make dramatic entrances, and was in fact known for jumping down to the stage from as much as 12 feet And on the run in Maryland, he was most interested in discovering and most crushed by popular opinion about what he d done Moreover, he understood instinctively how to use the theater to his advantage It let him creep up behind Lincoln without anyone including his victim noticing, and the detectives who later made the cast of Our American Cousin perform the play again and that has to have been the worst experience of any of their professional lives, performing a comedy in an empty theater while everyone involved is mentally counting down to the gunshot proved that Booth picked his moment with precision to ensure that the stage would be clear for him to cross And that a clear escape route is something that he could only have guaranteed by committing murder during a play Only during the performance of a play can you predict exactly where the people involved are going to be at the moment of your choice In that light, his choice seems so self evident that you may be wondering why I even think it s worth commenting on.But then there s the other side Booth knew he was destroying himself in destroying Lincoln he wanted public adulation much as he claimed he didn t care at all , but he knew the government would hunt him down So again why would he choose, deliberately and with intense premeditation, to commit the most destructive act of his life, both against his victim and against himself, in a theater, when he, his father, and two of his brothers were all famous actors probably the most famous and adulated actors of their day The Freudian line is tempting here, since Booth was assassinating the pre eminent patriarch of the United States, a stern and unyielding father to the rebellious South, a father who Booth believed was playing favorites, cossetting the North and punishing the South It is also obviously a blow against Booth s own deceased father, though Kauffman doesn t go into enough detail for me to make a strong case that Booth resented Junius Brutus Booth although Junius Brutus did try to keep his sons from following him into acting as a career, with notably poor success John Wilkes Booth did however most certainly resent his brother Edwin, who was a staunch supporter of the Union and evensuccessful an actor than John Wilkes himself And if you think of Lincoln s assassination as a play, with John Wilkes Booth as both director and leading man in the ultimate performance of his careerto me, that kind of self immolation, using the tools of his own trade to destroy himself, talks about a kind of self hatred that goes well beyond Freud And Booth, being as he was almost completely un self aware, I don t think ever recognized or even could have recognized the impulse to self destruction underlying the moment when he put his.44 caliber Deringer against Lincoln s skull and fired The only grim and bitterly cold comfort I can find is that Lincoln would never have known what happened to him The bullet that tore through his brain didn t kill him instantly, but he was brain dead from the moment Booth fired I only hope he was enjoying the play American Brutus isn t only about John Wilkes Booth It s also about Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton and William Seward, about Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt and John Surratt Kauffman traces out the long domino paths of cause and effect from the assassination of Lincoln and the near assassination of William Seward, the terrible damage Booth caused, all the people ensnared in his webs who fell with him when he fell It s a book that I ve been thinking about a lot since I finished it, which is maybe the highest praise I can offer

  10. says:

    Fascinating glimpse into the motivations behind one of the most famous assassinations in American history John Wilkes Booth s theatrical upbringing, wanna be heroic nature, and Southern sympathies combined convinced his ego that he was going to be the American Brutus A hero to a newly revitalized South who would laud him as a prince Honestly surprised and confused by the blame laid on him immediately after the shooting, his ill fated escape became nothing like the triumphant procession into a Fascinating glimpse into the motivations behind one of the most famous assassinations in American history John Wilkes Booth s theatrical upbringing, wanna be heroic nature, and Southern sympathies combined convinced his ego that he was going to be the American Brutus A hero to a newly revitalized South who would laud him as a prince Honestly surprised and confused by the blame laid on him immediately after the shooting, his ill fated escape became nothing like the triumphant procession into a grateful south that he d envisioned.Kauffman does a fine job presenting the mind set of this idealistic and deluded man, raised in a culture of Classical deeds and epic events And how, in the falling south, he saw the last chance for a life of grace and style But the tragedy of errors that follows his actions dooms him to the epitaph of villain on both sides of the war.It s a well researched and highly readable book for anyone who is interested in the Lincoln assassination No real surprises, but one or two unusual insights into Booth s character

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