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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln

Good Read: Killing Lincoln

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Killing Lincoln
by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

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Product Description:

The anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America’s Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln’s generous terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln’s dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased. In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies’ man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country’s most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history’s most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.

Kate Lochte says:

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law hesitated in recommending Killing Lincoln to me because Bill O’Reilly co-wrote it. They thought that since I work at an NPR station and enjoy listening to it that I wouldn’t read anything by Mr. O’Reilly of Fox News.

But I am on a Civil War reading jag – about to dive into Volume 2 of Shelby Foote’s Trilogy. I heard Steve Innskeep’s interview with O’Reilly and quite frankly, wish I could do another one and ask him all the questions I have now about how one goes about co-writing like this.

Last December descendants of John Wilkes Booth agreed to exhume his remains for DNA sampling to see if it matches vertebrae taken from Booth’s body and saved in a medical museum in Washington, not on public view. In the Afterword of Killing Lincoln, this is among the tantalizing questions asked: Why has there been no subsequent reveal of the test results?

Why did nothing happen to the Presidential guard assigned to watch the box at the Ford Theatre who left his post and was drinking in the tavern next door when Booth shot Abraham Lincoln?

Whatever happened to 18 pages of John Wilkes Booth’s writings after the assassination that were seized after Booth’s death and given over to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton for safe-keeping? Stanton never could not explain the missing pages. Why did Secretary Stanton hire a discredited private eye to engage the search for Booth after the assassination?

You can hear Bill O’Reilly’s voice in the narrative style – calling attention to GOOD and EVIL, exhortative, excited, and precise. There’ve been some complaints about the fact-checking of the book and it’s not foot-noted, thank goodness! The Afterward gives a fine list of books and sources which the authors consulted. Killing Lincoln is a quick read and scenes like the surrender at Appomatox come alive visually. I really enjoyed it.

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Written by Matt Markgraf

November 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Good Read: Our Lincoln

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Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World
edited by Eric Foner

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Among these original essays by prize-winning historians, James M. McPherson examines Lincoln’s deft navigation of the crosscurrents of politics and wartime strategy. Sean Wilentz elegantly explores Lincoln’s debt to the democratic political tradition of Jefferson and Jackson. Eric Foner examines Lincoln’s controversial position on the movement to colonize emancipated slaves outside the United States. James Oakes explores Lincoln’s views on the rights of African Americans. There are also brilliant essays on Lincoln and civil liberties, and on his literary style, religious beliefs, and family life.

Todd Hatton says:

“It’s impossible to go to Washington, D.C. and not be touched somehow by Abraham Lincoln’s ghost.  It’s even more difficult to find something new, something previously unsaid or unwritten about our 16th president.  Lincoln has held our hearts and minds since the end of the Civil War, and one could be forgiven for thinking that in the intervening century and a half we’ve more or less plumbed the depths of this man.

The recent bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth with its releases of new tomes and re-issues of classic pieces nevertheless proves that we are still drawn to him.  And maybe, just maybe, there’s a hint of desperation in this renewed compulsion, as we search for a way to heal our own bitterly divided body politic in the careworn face of this gifted, troubled, and extraordinarily complicated man.

Our Lincoln, New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, a collection of essays edited by Columbia University history professor Eric Foner, may not show us how to bridge today’s political divides, but it does provide a glimpse into the various and sometimes conflicting facets of a man who held our nation together for its own good when it wanted nothing more than to come apart.

Make no mistake, Our Lincoln isn’t a light read; but then, not much about Lincoln ever is.  It is, however, an engrossing one.  Pulitzer Prize-winning authors like Mark Neely and James McPherson contribute insights into Lincoln the Commander-in-Chief and his relationship to the Constitution and civil liberties, but we also find essays that peer into Lincoln’s spirituality and analyze his role as a student and patron of the visual arts.  Andrew Delbanco, who edited The Portable Lincoln, even contributes a piece asserting that other than Mark Twain, no other writer had as enormous and lasting an impact on American literature as did Abraham Lincoln.  Not bad for a guy with a grand total of 18 months of formal education.

There is much in Our Lincoln to recommend it, and its satisfactions are much like those of running into an old friend, long absent.  This is Abraham Lincoln, after all, the man whose likeness marks our money and a great number of our monuments, and we get a chance to find out what he’s been up to all these years.”

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.

Written by Matt Markgraf

July 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

morning cram [fishin’ edition]

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“The fishing industry is based mostly in cash, so many cannot provide documented proof of work.”

NPR has more.

KENTUCKY~ Paducah school officials: still no clear idea where to build a new middle school.  2 more Fort Campbell soldiers died in Afghanistan (23 since deployment). A WWII vet is awarded a Bronze Star for a heroic feat 65 years ago. Beshear warns federal lawmakers’ quarreling may endanger the state’s unemployed. VP Biden talks to Louisville General Electric workers.

TENNESSEE~ Clarksville Marina contractor needs 144 more days to finish excavation work. A hearing to review federal agencies’ flood response is slated for next month. The state finally begins a federal energy rebate program. Bredesen signs the jailer/immigration check into law.

ILLINOIS~ Nuclear producer Honeywell locks union workers out of the plant.  Metropolis passes a 15-year  sewer separation plan after a state EPA mandate.

Todd’s Good Read: “Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War”

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Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War
by Berry Craig

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‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’ is Kentucky’s motto. Yet the Civil War sharply split the Bluegrass State. Kentuckians fought Kentuckians in some of the bloodiest battles of America’s bloodiest war. The names and faces of the winning and losing generals of those battles are in most history books. But this book is not like most history books; it is about hidden history. Most of the stories are not found in other books. Some are proof that the Civil War was truly ‘a brother’s war’ in the home state of Lincoln and Davis. From the Graves County gun grab to pirates in Paducah to dueling gunboats on the Mississippi, this one-of-a-kind collection of little-known tales by Kentucky historian Berry Craig will captivate Civil War enthusiasts and casual readers alike.

“As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”   Such a sentiment is fitting in our area given our entirely justified reverence  for our history.

WKCTC history professor Berry Craig has been instilling that reverence in his  students for over 20 years. (Full disclosure: I’m one of those fortunate  students.  I took two of his American History classes as an undergraduate.  And  I’d take ‘em again.)  Craig’s new book, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil  War, is the next best thing to a seat in his classroom.

Hidden History is a twofold pleasure.  They’re great stories, historical or  not, and Craig tells them well, much as you’d imagine someone would who’s got  to keep it fresh semester after semester.  Organized by year, the pieces can be  read individually in a few minutes or all in one sitting.

For those of us who’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Craig, it isn’t hard  to hear his voice talking about Trigg County’s Andrew Jackson Smith, an  African-American private who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, or Paducah’s  Confederate Colonel A.P. Thompson, felled by a Union cannonball in the assault  of Fort Anderson not far from his home.  And lest one think Hidden History is  Purchase-centric, Craig includes anecdotes like “The Yankee Cusser,” from the  Cumberland Gap.

In short, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War is the history class you  always wished you’d taken, written by the one professor you’d want to take it  from.”

-Todd Hatton

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.

Todd’s Good Read – “Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer”

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Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer

James L. Swanson

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The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness. James L. Swanson’s Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you’ve never read it before.

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“I picked this book up in the bookstore that’s tucked into a corner of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. I was looking for a good historical non-fiction read while I was in town, and I found it. Swanson translates his encyclopedic knowledge of the Lincoln Assassination and its players, both major and minor, into a story that reads like a good thriller. It’s a thorough account (some 392 pages) that neither bogs the reader down nor engages in stereotypes; I finished Manhunt in a mere three days. An absolute must for Lincoln enthusiasts, history buffs, and even lovers of a good mystery.” – Todd Hatton

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Written by Matt Markgraf

February 19, 2010 at 10:00 am