WILKES BOOTH CAME TO WASHINGTON by Larry Starkey

WILKES BOOTH CAME TO WASHINGTON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Did John Wilkes Booth commit the prototypical presidential assassination because he was insane? Maybe not. A century after Lincoln's murder the killings of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King spawned numerous turgid theories of conspiracy regarding the more recent tragedies. Now assassination aficionados and history buffs may chew on the newest, and possibly most plausible, in a long list of explanations of the death of the Great Emancipator. The historiographically old-fashioned notion that agents of the dying Confederacy somehow promoted Booth's deed dates from the crime itself. During the Depression the conspiracy theories were colored by notions of economic intrigue. Now our recent violent history may provide ready adherents to another complex explanation. Starkey joins together the relatively few known facts with a bit of intuition. According to him there was a Canadian connection. By the time of Appomattox, he suggests, a Southern cabal in Montreal had enlisted a sympathetic Booth, who was renowned as an actor and therefore had access to the Presidential box at Ford's Theatre. Others were recruited in the desperate scheme which would involve Canada and eventually England in a revived war against the Union. The South, thought the conpirators, would rise again through the agency of purely political assassinations, Starkey supposes. Whether or not this is so, whether or not Booth was mad, the drama of the death of Lincoln is forcefully told.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1976
Publisher: Random House