Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell


Really, Ryann, you want us to read about DEATH?

Yes! Well, no. Well, sort of.

Assassination Vacation tells the true stories behind the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, McKinley and Garfield. The author tells the poignant tales with humor and wit, interweaving the stories together with her own experiences along at the historical sites.

This is so NOT the snoozefest you are expecting.

Sure, I felt a certain kindred connection, as I have visited many of the same locations, such as Ford’s Theater and Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois. I’d had library friends visit the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, and then kicked myself for not taking time to see it after reading her compelling description of the museum and the staff who worked there.Even though this was published six years ago, she deftly connects the fascinating stories from the past with events from today.

I fit right in with the Lincoln family at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield.

Even though this was published six years ago, she deftly connects the fascinating stories from the past with events from today. While reading of her pilgrimage to follow John Wilkes Booth’s escape route from Ford’s Theater, she asks as many questions as she answers. Mysteries remain about his co-conspirators, and walking in his footsteps makes the history really come to life, even when you aren’t there.

But, most of all, I felt moved by the human stories behind the presidents, the assassins, their friends and family, and the uncanny coincidences. For instance, did you know:

  • John Wilkes Booth’s brother, Edwin, once saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln?
  • President Garfield might not have been killed by the gunshot wound if the mob of doctors summoned hadn’t all stuck their grubby hands into his wounds?

See? These kind of factoids will make you a hit at every party. If they don’t, you need to find new parties.

Still not convinced? Here’s the first line:

Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food.

Have you ever visited someplace after you read about it?

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Interested in reading Assassination Vacation? Find it at your local library or one of the retailers below.

In print:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell’s |

Kindle | Nook


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