Traditional journalistic questions are applied to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and funeral, as well as the roundup and executions of John Wilkes Booth and his associates.
Facing the title page is a drawing of John Wilkes Booth, smoking gun in hand, with a speech bubble: “I do not repent the blow I struck.” On the first text page is a watercolor cartoon of Lincoln and the sentence, “It was a rare, cheerful day for President Abraham Lincoln.” Next, the Confederate flag hangs in defeat, as text explains both Lincoln’s satisfaction with the Civil War’s results and how this filled John Wilkes Booth “with seething rage.” Readers then learn about Booth’s failed kidnapping scheme, his cadre of supporters, and the bungled attempts by his cohorts to kill the vice president and secretary of state, which are contrasted with Booth’s successful mission. The text includes often underreported facts about the era’s political climate, such as the possibly hundreds of people killed if “caught gloating over the murder.” Details such as having to lay out the long-bodied Lincoln diagonally on his deathbed and the clues used to track down the escaped Booth are integrated in fast-paced, accessible language. The atmospheric illustrations are void of some of the text’s gorier details, but the topic’s general handling, which assumes considerable historical knowledge, suggests an older audience than the publisher’s recommended 6-10. Sadly, there are no child-friendly suggestions for further reading.
Suitable for avid younger historians and older reluctant readers. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)