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Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

Series: Killing (1)

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1,034848,169 (3.83)47
Member:natalie.reynolds
Title:Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever
Authors:Bill O'Reilly
Other authors:Martin Dugard
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:To read
Rating:**
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Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly (Author) (2011)

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After the Confederate forces surrendered, Abraham Lincoln wanted to reintegrate the Southern states back into the Union. Although many believed the prodigals should be treated with a heavy hand and made to pay war reparations, Lincoln favored a forgiving approach that he hoped would rebuild the nation and its devastated economy. His plans were interrupted, however, when John Wilkes Booth, a celebrity of the stage and a virulent racist, thought he could reignite the war by killing the President. When Booth shot Lincoln in Ford's Theater he made himself the object of the nation's greatest manhunt and ensured Lincoln's place as the nation's greatest martyr.

O'Reilly has written a very novel-like story of the final days of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln shortly thereafter. It is written to enhance the drama of the story and engages in a lot of speculative comments about what the characters see or think, such as stating that Booth absent-mindedly kissed a ring from his former fiancé while pausing at the door to Lincoln's box, or what Lincoln felt upon being shot. As someone who reads quite a lot of history I found these speculations distracting, but someone not used to reading as much history might appreciate the drama it adds. Supposedly O'Reilly used to be a high-school history teacher and such an approach could have been excellent with reluctant teenagers. However, one part I did find especially interesting and even exciting was Grant's pursuit of Lee's Confederate army.

I listened to the audiobook read by Mr. O'Reilly himself, and while he does a decent job it might have benefitted more from a professional reader. O'Reilly's pronunciation of "sentries" sounds more like "centuries," and is occasionally halting. Others have complained that his pronunciation of "cavalry" (men on horses) sounds more like "Calvary" (the place where Jesus died). He also explains twice the phrase Booth shouted from the theater stage, "Sic semper tyrannis," meaning "thus always to tyrants," and makes frequent connections to the death of Caesar (and Jesus, too). And he tries to play up the unproven conspiracy theory connecting Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to Booth, probably another effort to enhance the drama.

I think a better choice would be Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson. Although written for teenagers, it provides a good introductory account of the assassination.

(I received this book from Amazon Vine and this review is modified from the original posted to my blog on 10/19/11: bookworm-dad.blogspot.com) ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
After the Confederate forces surrendered, Abraham Lincoln wanted to reintegrate the Southern states back into the Union. Although many believed the prodigals should be treated with a heavy hand and made to pay war reparations, Lincoln favored a forgiving approach that he hoped would rebuild the nation and its devastated economy. His plans were interrupted, however, when John Wilkes Booth, a celebrity of the stage and a virulent racist, thought he could reignite the war by killing the President. When Booth shot Lincoln in Ford's Theater he made himself the object of the nation's greatest manhunt and ensured Lincoln's place as the nation's greatest martyr.

O'Reilly has written a very novel-like story of the final days of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln shortly thereafter. It is written to enhance the drama of the story and engages in a lot of speculative comments about what the characters see or think, such as stating that Booth absent-mindedly kissed a ring from his former fiancé while pausing at the door to Lincoln's box, or what Lincoln felt upon being shot. As someone who reads quite a lot of history I found these speculations distracting, but someone not used to reading as much history might appreciate the drama it adds. Supposedly O'Reilly used to be a high-school history teacher and such an approach could have been excellent with reluctant teenagers. However, one part I did find especially interesting and even exciting was Grant's pursuit of Lee's Confederate army.

I listened to the audiobook read by Mr. O'Reilly himself, and while he does a decent job it might have benefitted more from a professional reader. O'Reilly's pronunciation of "sentries" sounds more like "centuries," and is occasionally halting. Others have complained that his pronunciation of "cavalry" (men on horses) sounds more like "Calvary" (the place where Jesus died). He also explains twice the phrase Booth shouted from the theater stage, "Sic semper tyrannis," meaning "thus always to tyrants," and makes frequent connections to the death of Caesar (and Jesus, too). And he tries to play up the unproven conspiracy theory connecting Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to Booth, probably another effort to enhance the drama.

I think a better choice would be Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson. Although written for teenagers, it provides a good introductory account of the assassination.

(I received this book from Amazon Vine and this review is modified from the original posted to my blog on 10/19/11: bookworm-dad.blogspot.com) ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
I found out there was a lot I didn't know about the Lincoln assassination from this book and I enjoyed learning all these tidbits of history. The descriptions made the scenes come alive and the historical figures became real life, fleshed out people in my mind as I listened to the story unfold.
I listened to this on audio and Bill O'Reilly narrates it himself. I tolerated it, but I wish they had gotten someone else to do the narration. O'Reilly's voice works well for his pith commentating on TV but it's horrible for narrating a book. His emphatic diction and New York accent didn't fit the setting and historical nature of the work.
I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy learning about history, but it's probably much better to read it than to listen to it. ( )
  debs4jc | Jul 2, 2014 |
One of my Top 5 read for 2013 ( )
  suline | Apr 10, 2014 |
My dad read this book and enjoyed it and gave it to me to read when I asked him about it.  Let me be clear up front that I am neither a fan nor a foe of Bill O'Reilly, so my opinion of the book is not colored by politics.  It does bother me, however, when a book gets a lot of extra attention simply because an author is famous mostly in arenas other than authorship,or expertise in a particular subject.

Like another so-called nonfiction book I read recently that's been read more frequently since a movie loosely based on it became popular (Philomena), my gripe with this book is that it's marketed as nonfiction, when once again the author(s) speculate about the characters' thoughts and motivations, yet have no cited sources backing them up.

The book has a number of (mostly minor) inaccuracies, which again would be more forgivable if the book wasn't marketed as nonfiction.  It IS possible to write good, enthralling narrative nonfiction grounded in facts that are detailed in end notes - Erik Larson is a master.

That being said - the book was a quick, easy read.  I actually preferred Part One of the book (called "Total War"), which in 83 pages describes, in an understandable form, the last few maneuverings and skirmishes by Generals Grant and Lee in the first nine days of April, 1865, just before Lee's surrender.

O'Reilly himself says in an author's note at the beginning that "this book is written as a thriller."  Had it been marketed the same way, it would perhaps be less controversial.  A desired outcome of reading this book would be using it as a starting point to learn more facts about Lincoln's assassination and its aftermath.  That's what good historical fiction often inspires one to do.

© Amanda Pape - 2014

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my dad. This review also appears on .] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Mar 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
This material [recently published primary sources] represents virtually all of the primary documentary record of the assassination, and is readily available for anyone wishing to research every aspect of the assassination for less than $200. It is inexcusable not to avail oneself of this essential record in researching and writing about this
important event. By their own account, the authors relied on the writing of previous authors, and in doing so perpetuated both a wealth of errors and a number of hoary myths.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
O'Reilly, BillAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dugard, MartinAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Levani, Meryl SussmanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quindós, Paloma GilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, GeneMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Makeda Wubneh,
who makes the world a better place
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The man with fourteen days to live is himself witnessing death.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805093079, Paperback)

A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O'Reilly

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:12 -0400)

Describes the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the hunt to track down John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices.

(summary from another edition)

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