Thursday, July 19, 2012

Killing Lincoln

Killing Lincoln----a murder mystery it is not, or so one would think. We all know that Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford's theater and died soon after. So how do Martin Dugard and Bill O'Reilly keep readers engrossed in the story knowing how it will end? They do this quite ably by explaining the circumstances and seemingly non related tangential events that all culminated in this horrifying event.

Where was our sixteenth president's bodyguard when John Wilkes Booth snuck into his theater box? The man was shirking his duties and drinking ale next door. John Parker, this never-do-well bodyguard did not have a good reputation, but was still hired to guard the president. Mary Todd Lincoln even wrote the letter that exempted him from serving in the military (enabling him to stay on the force protecting her husband.) Somehow he was acquitted of charges of dereliction of duty. John Parker showed up the morning after the assassination at the police station with a known prostitute. (The Secret Service appears to have had an early history of agents that enjoyed their company.)

The writers point out many of the great ironies of history. John Wilkes Booth's lover was also interested in Lincoln's own son. The bed that Lincoln was carried to and died upon had often been rented by his murderer. John Wilkes Booth slept in that bed just three weeks before the dying president's long, broken body was laid across it to die. These and other ironies enable the authors to engross the readers in a tale that has a sadly known outcome.

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