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For other authors named Gene Smith, see the disambiguation page.

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Works by Gene Smith

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kslade | 4 other reviews | Dec 8, 2022 |
In American Gothic, Gene Smith recounts the history of the 19th century Booth family, which spawned Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Although John and the assassination are the author's focus, he also tells of John's brother Edwin and his father Junius, both of whom (like John) were famous actors in their day. Smith adopts a dramatic approach that sometimes borders on melodrama.

"There was a streak of madness in the family. In some, it took the form of an uncanny gift for the stage that made the theatrical Booths the toast of Europe and America. But it had a dark side as well: alcoholism, violence, melancholia -- and in John Wilkes Booth, the capacity to turn his frightening obsessions into terrifying reality."

In the volume that contained the abridged Reader's Digest version, the dust jacket takes the melodrama to an extreme -- tantalizing the prospective reader with the possibility that JW Booth eluded his pursuers and survived into the 20th century. This is, of course, a highly dubious claim for which no real evidence exists.

The events surrounding Lincoln's assassination and John Booth's flight and capture have been told many times, and I am sure that much better sources are available. In particular, I would recommend James Swanson's thrilling Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. However, Gene Smith's American Gothic is a passable and entertaining account, one that has the benefit of portraying John Booth in the context of his famous family.
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1 vote
danielx | 1 other review | Mar 24, 2018 |
What happens when a President becomes disabled and is unable to fulfill the responsibilities of his position? That was the dilemma in 1919 when Pres. Woodrow Wilson suffered a variety of health maladies including strokes and found himself bedridden and unable to perform his job. His wife and his doctor essentially carried out and managed Presidential duties. Ordinarily the Vice President steps in and carries out the presidential duties – – however Wilson's vice president had no interest in being president. A grumbling Congress and Cabinet offered little resistance.

What struck this reader was how implausible this scenario would have been today. Wilson would never have been able to stay in the White House given his health situation. Mrs. Wilson has been credited with actually being the first woman President as she made a number of policy and personnel decisions. And like Nancy Reagan, she strictly managed the President's schedule and travels.

Woodrow Wilson was obsessed with the creation of the League of Nations. Obsessed to the point where he sacrificed his own health and life. He even considered running for a third term despite his failing health. Interesting history – – very well researched.
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1 vote
writemoves | 2 other reviews | Jul 16, 2017 |


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