Monday, July 2, 2018

President Lincoln's killer and the America he left behind: The assassin, the crime, and its lasting blow to freedom and equality by Jessica Gunderson

This slim volume is part of a series of four books that examines the aftermath of presidential assassinations. This particular title looks at the assassination of Lincoln and speculates on how America's future might have changed had Booth not fired the fatal bullet.

Much of the 64 pages are devoted to explaining the context of Lincoln's death. The author explains the backgrounds of both John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln and their respective rises to fame. Booth came from a family of famous actors and was incredibly popular; however, he was also an ardent supporter of the Confederacy, slavery, and his increasing anger at Lincoln and the North during the war led to a breach between him and his equally famous brother, Edwin Booth, who was an abolitionist. Lincoln rose from poverty and tragic family circumstances to become a powerful political figure. But the respect and admiration he gained in history was far away when he struggled with the growing unrest in the country and the horrors and difficulties of the Civil War. These two very different men were set upon tragic paths by the turmoil of the United States leading up to the Civil War, including the bloody battles over Kansas and the rise of the Confederacy.

Gunderson covers briefly but concisely the plot to kill Lincoln and several other members of his cabinet and the tragic events that followed. The final chapter discusses the impact of Lincoln's death and Johnson's difficulties in leading the country after the Civil War. What would have happened if Lincoln had survived? Would he have been able to reunite the country? Would his plans to support and unite African-Americans and whites have saved the country from a hundred years of prejudice, racism, and oppression? We'll never know.

Back matter includes a timeline, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and an index.

Verdict: This is a good introduction to a pivotal event in American history and an excellent source for teachers to use to assist in critical thinking and social studies. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780756557164; Published 2018 by Capstone; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

No comments: