Killing Lincoln, written by Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and author Martin Dugard, is a phenomenal historical book. It gives insight into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the last week of the Civil War. I came into this book a skeptic due to my issues with Bill O’Reilly; however, after reading this book, I can say that Civil War history has come alive. Honestly, I felt like an active participant in the truce between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, the events surrounding John Wilkes Booth, the turmoil between the North and South, and the inner struggles of Abraham Lincoln. This book does a tremendous job of bringing the past alive to a contemporary audience.
Written in a narrative, this book can be read simply and easily.
A few things that resonated with me are:
- Page 143 states: “Abraham is a religious man but not a church goes….he took comfort in reading the Bible on a daily basis and often used the words of God to make important points in his public pronouncements.” Simple advice, stay rooted in Scripture.
- In the epilogue, the author states “Wilkes Booth epitomizes the evil that can harm us, even as President Abraham Lincoln represents the good that can make us stronger.” Booth was blinded by rage, anger, and when mixed with absolute hubris, one could actually feel the pure evil. At the point of the assassination, I wished I could have intervened.
- The surrounding factors in the possible Seward conspiracy. While not explicitly stated, the author gives the facts that there could have been a bigger conspiracy for example the 18 missing pages of the Booth journal.
My only advice would be to add an appendix in the back just listing the names and a brief sentence describing who they are. I tended to get mixed up with various generals and the sporadic mentioning of individuals. I would recommend this book for any beginner in Civil War history.
I would give a 9.5/10