True crime at its finest

17 09 2011

A few months ago, my grandmother said she had too many books and to come grab ’em up. So I went. And grabbed. A lot. Old MAD magazines and books nonfiction and fiction, of all genres. I’ve read six of these books so far and rated some on Goodreads (I particularly liked “Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair”). But this is my first written review of a book from that stash. “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” by Jim Bishop touched me in a way that is hard to explain. It probably has something to do with a president cut down in the middle of his glory. This is an old edition, by the way, copyright 1955 and with an 85-cent price on the front.

I recommend this book to anyone. You don’t like history? You don’t like politics? No matter. This book transcends history and politics (subjects I love, by the way). This book has it all: suspense, so much so that when the moment of the assassination arrived, I had to distract myself and then squirm a few minutes before getting on with it – I did not want Lincoln to die! – murder, conspiracy, colorful characters, accidents of history, and yes, even romance. Okay, maybe not romance per se, but the bond between Lincoln and his wife was touching, even if she was a bit (maybe more than a bit!) of a tyrant.

I would love to give this book five stars, but alas, it gets four. The postscript needed to deal more with John Wilkes Booth’s capture. Sure, yes, the book is set from 7 a.m. to about 7:30 a.m. the next day (basically Lincoln’s last 24 hours), and Booth was not captured in that time frame. But a one-sentence postscript after going through agonizing pages of his plotting and his getaway was not satisfying. The postscript where Booth was concerned should have been at least two pages.

This is a fine book that brings Washington City and history to life. It perfectly balances action and the need to get history across. No boring textbook, this. True crime at its finest.

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3 responses

17 09 2011
sterling

Sounds like a great book, I’ll have to see if I can find it.

17 09 2011
Rachel

Good review makes me want to go out & see if I can find this book.

17 09 2011
qkelly

You should be able to. I see it used starting at $1.90 on Amazon. Libraries probably have it. Happy reading! 🙂

The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop (Hardcover – Aug 22, 1984)
5 new from $47.55 36 used from $1.90
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Books: See all 77 items

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