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Kauffman, an independent Lincoln assassination scholar, offers a beautifully written, exhaustive and well-reasoned reassessment of John Wilkes Booth and the murder of America's 16th president. The story Kauffman tells, though highly familiar, is also byzantine enough to still capture our attention. More importantly, Kauffman puts a new spin on well-worn data, adding a riveting reinterpretation that paints Booth as a ruthless player of complex games: a darkly brilliant manipulator of people, not all of whom realized what they were a part of until after Lincoln lay dead. Booth reveled in creating false impressions and planting strategic misinformation. One example involves Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set Booth's fractured leg before learning of the assassination and then, frightened for his life, made the mistake of denying knowing the actor. Years later, Gen. David Hunter—ranking member of the military commission that tried and sentenced Mudd to prison—commented: "The Court never believed that Dr. Mudd knew anything about Booth's designs. Booth made him a tool as he had done others." Kauffman's Booth is, in the end, a crazed but skilled puppetmaster who, as part of his endgame, needed to make sure that most of his puppets joined him in martyrdom for the Confederate cause. "Booth immortalized himself by staging one of history's greatest dramas," Kauffman writes. "In the process, he accomplished what every actor aspires to do: he made us all wonder where the play ended and reality began."
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In this thorough review of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Kauffman seems to have examined everything--documents, places, and artifacts--related to the case. He reports having spent 400 hours in the assassin's home, indicating his dedication to unearthing all the facts about the plots of John Wilkes Booth. Fortunately, dedication doesn't degenerate into obsession with any single angle: Kauffman announces no astounding revelation--such as a link between the assassin and the Confederate government. He does stress, however, the forensic sloppiness of the investigation, albeit without insinuating the wrong people were caught, tried, and hanged. While joining the historical chorus that innkeeper Mary Surratt, whatever her knowledge of the plotters, might not have deserved the rope, Kauffman's tracking of Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt doesn't clear them of consorting with Booth. A levelheaded analysis of the evolution of Booth's plans, Kauffman's book will satisfy the enduring interest in Lincoln's murder. REVWR
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I liked reading this book, a little long, but worth the read. I would recommend this to anyone.Published 10 days ago by CJ Reviews
Having read some of the other reports of the time it is like a police investigation with background on the characters. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Sharon J. Twentier
Though I've read other books on the assassination ,including Killing Lincoln, this book was among the best. American Brutus was very fun to read and well researched. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Kwan
Kaufman’s premise here is ingenious: he revisits the primary sources for the Lincoln assassination and subjects them to modern data analysis. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ann Marie Ackermann
The definitive work on the assassination. The author weaves the facts together to create a fascinating account. The endnotes are priceless!Published 4 months ago by B. Gottfried
With probably hundreds of books published on the subject of Lincoln's assassination, Kauffman has managed to come up with a new way to look at the president's murder. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James D. Crabtree
Simply the BEST volume on the Lincoln assassination. The prodigious research that Mr. Kauffman put into this work will never be equaled. The footnotes alone are a joy to read. Read morePublished 6 months ago by rick peuser