Friday, October 2, 2015

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell is a history buff. And not just a history buff, but one fascinated by political assassinations, specifically Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley.

In Assassination Vacation, Vowell takes her readers on a wry, reverent, fascinating journey to various landmarks, big and small, that somehow featured in the lives and deaths of assassinated American presidents. She searches out plaques, (sort of) climbs mountains, and tallies up every presidential assassination Robert Todd Lincoln was somehow an observer of (the final tally is all three).

Along the way, she sees the musical "Assassins" (and scares off strangers with just how much she loves it), gets seasick on a boat ride to the prison where Lincoln assassination conspirators were held, discusses the idea that maybe John Wilkes Booth really did escape (and was then mummified after death, with his corpse being toured around carnivals), and visits the spot where the Oneida Community used to reside (a group marriage Biblical commune where Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, once lived).

This is the kind of book you want to give to students who think history is boring. It will definitely change their minds.

3.5/5 stars

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