THE RIDDLE OF DR. MUDD by

THE RIDDLE OF DR. MUDD

By
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd, the Marylander who set John Wilkes Booth's broken leg when the assassin was fleeing south, was given a life sentence by a military court and imprisoned in the unbelievable foulness of Florida's fever-ridden Dry Tortugas (also called Devil's Island). Three years later, his health forever broken, he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Mudd got off more easily than Mrs. Mary Surratt, who was hanged with three co-conspirators -- by mistake. In fact, Mudd seems to have been guilty of nothing but being from a state whose sympathies wavered throughout the war. Mudd once met Booth before Lincoln's murder but did not recognize him in a false beard when he came to have his arch set. Mudd was also a great innocent (and violinist and flautist) and became excessively timid when confronted by soldiers searching for Booth. The riddle of Mudd is whether or not he knew of Booth's earlier plan to kidnap Lincoln. Once Lee surrendered, Booth's plans turned solely to vengeance. On Dry Tortugas Mudd survived a heavy plague of malaria, became acting chief physician though a prisoner. Little is known about him -- all his records went up in a fire. This satisfactory biography reveals a loving, not very profound man, whose greatest worth only blossomed in the miseries of prison.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam