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Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Friday, April 14, 1865 is a day that lives on in infamy for our nation as it is the day President Abraham Lincoln was shot. Now Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard have brought us a fresh look at the date and the days leading up to the assassination with Killing Lincoln. I think everyone could learn something new reading this. For instance, I was reminded Lincoln was shot on a Good Friday.

The authors open the book on Saturday, April 1, 1865 and then take the reader up to the day of the assassination and beyond. The day-by-day countdown is surprisingly suspenseful since we all know how the story ended. The reader is transported back in time as the narrative unfolds.

Here we have a close-up view of not only Lincoln but his contemporaries, and the assassin John Wilkes Booth. It was Booth, an actor and outspoken supporter of slavery, who organized a band of men to kill Lincoln, Secretary of State Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson—all on the same evening. While Seward was seriously injured, he survived. The man targeted to kill Johnson did not follow through. Booth single-handedly carried out the attack on Lincoln, thus changing the course of our nation’s history forever.

Besides the day-to-day wind-down of the war, we get to see people celebrating the end of it in the streets of Washington D.C. Even as Lincoln rejoiced that the war was over, Booth seethed with hatred and wanted to destroy any chance of a peaceful reconciliation between North and South. He attained his goal with one gunshot.

We not only see inside the mind of Booth, we also see a kinder side of Mary Todd Lincoln than some biographers have afforded her.

All-in-all, O’Reilly and Dugard have turned out a narrative that is insightful and suspenseful. If you like Civil War history, you’ll enjoy this book. I loved the “you-are-there” feel to it.

As a Fox-TV commentator and bestselling author, O’Reilly has a ready-made audience. I think he will capture even more readers with this entry. I’d give it a big thumbs’ up.

~Ginny

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