O'Reilly of course is the host of his highly-rated Fox News prime time show, Dugard is a noted author of historical novels and running books. Which might explain the book's consistent but fast pace.
|Gen. Phil Sheridan at Five Forks,|
Fort Sheridan, IL
While Grant is chasing Lee to across western Virginia and eventually to Appomattox Court House, the authors trace the development of John Wilkes Booth's plot to kidnap Lincoln, which evolved into an assassination plot of not only the president, but Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. Booth comes across in this telling as fanatical, but also as someone who couldn't quite ascertain the difference between the stage and the real world.
O'Reilly and Dugard write:
The cast and crew at Ford's treat Booth like family. His eccentricities are chalked up to him being a famous actor. The theatrical world is full of a hundred guys just as unpredictable and passionate, so nobody dreams that he has a burning desire to kill the president. So it is, as Booth rises to his feet and wanders back into the theater to plan the attack, that it never crosses anyone's mind to ask what he's doing. It's just John being John.Later that evening, the assassin asks a hotel clerk if he's going to see Our American Cousin at Ford's. He replies, "No."
"You ought to go," Booth says with a wink on his way out the door. "There is going to be some splendid acting."Shortly afterwards Booth remarks to another man, "When I leave the stage I will be the most talked about man in America."
Then, as Carl Sandburg wrote about his fellow Illinoisan, "The prairie years, the war years, were over."
The shooting of Lincoln and his death the following morning doesn't slow the action. Eventually all of the conspirators, real and imagined, are arrested, except for Booth, who was killed after being surrounded by Union soldiers in Virginia. John Surratt, whose mother was found guilty on rather flimsy evidence for participating in the plot, fled to Canada, then to Rome, where he became a Papal Zouave, and finally to Egypt, where was arrested a year after Lincoln's assassination.
There are a few flaws in this otherwise entertaining and informing book. The authors note that after Lee's surrender, the Virginian and Grant never met again. But the commander of the Unions armies visited Lee the next morning, which Grant recounted in his Memoirs. That's odd, since dialogue between the generals from the Memoirs are included in O'Reilly and Dugard's book. And shortly before his death, Lee visited Grant, who was by then president, in the White House. Also, there was no Oval Office during Lincoln's time--the West Wing wasn't constructed until the early 1900s, Lincoln usually worked in a second floor White House office.
|U.S. Grant home, Galena, IL|
The book's release is timed for Christmas--and it will be a welcome gift for history buffs as well as those who simply enjoy great narratives. And finally, you don't have to be a viewer of the O'Reilly Factor--or a marathon runner--to appreciate this book.
If you are an author, publishing house, or a literary agent and you would like for me to review a book, please contact me at john "dot" ruberry "at" sbcglobal.net.
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