Review

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever

by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s true story of “the shocking assassination that changed America forever” is divided into four parts: “Total War,” “The Ides of Death,” “The Long Good Friday” and “The Chase.”

"The book is written in present tense, with short chapters, vivid details and an emotional intensity that gives the story a sense of urgency, intimacy and suspense."
“Total War” opens on the evening of April 1, 1965 in City Point, Virginia, 14 days before President Abraham Lincoln is to be assassinated. As he paces the deck of the steamboat River Queen, “unprotected and unafraid,” Lincoln wonders when the conflict that has divided the country for four long years will ever end.
 
As the final days of the war unfold, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant are locked in battle. The battle scenes are gripping, portraying the thoughts, strategies and emotions on both sides. In addition to insight into the plans and tactics of Grant and Lee, readers learn about the contributions of warriors on both sides of the battle --- including Sheridan, Meade, Custer, Washburn, Gordon and Longstreet --- and the range of actions, from heroics and bravery to pettiness and jealousy.
 
“The Ides of Death” opens on the night of April 10th in Washington, D.C. with citizens celebrating the end of the war. Drunken crowds assemble outside the White House, longing to hear a speech of retribution against the South, while Lincoln is intent on binding the wounds that divide the nation. Also wandering around the nation’s capital, John Wilkes Booth is enraged over how the war has ended. He has shucked aside the original conspiracy plan to kidnap Lincoln. Booth wants revenge --- and blood --- as he picks up his gun to formulate a new plan.
 
In “The Long Good Friday,” April 14th begins with Lincoln in the White House and ends the following dawn. The President has been pronounced dead, silver coins are placed over his eyes, and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton rumbles “now he belongs to the ages.”
 
The final section, “The Chase,” details the search for John Wilkes Booth and anyone connected with or suspected of being linked to the assassination of President Lincoln. The Afterword includes synopses of figures, both well-known and not-so-well-known, touched by the historical events of April 1865. The Appendix, photos and index complete the compelling picture of this historical work that reads like a thriller.
 
It’s no wonder that KILLING LINCOLN has appeared at the top of numerous bestseller lists since its release in late September. The book is written in present tense, with short chapters, vivid details and an emotional intensity that gives the story a sense of urgency, intimacy and suspense. You certainly don’t need to be a regular viewer of “The O’Reilly Factor” to be caught up in this page-turning work of nonfiction, and I look forward to more (hopefully) from this successful writing duo.
 

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on October 13, 2011

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever
by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

  • Publication Date: September 27, 2011
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • ISBN-10: 0805093079
  • ISBN-13: 9780805093070