1,258 of 1,448 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars O'Reilly Delivers, Unlike Most Reviews of the Book
It seems that most reviews of the book are by one of two types of reviewers: 1. the reviewer either loves or hates O'Reilly, or 2. the reviewer either loved or hated how it was written. Here is my take, leaving the personal feelings about the author aside, Killing Lincoln delivers on its mission. Many rip O'Reilly apart for it not being an in depth treatment of his...
Published 23 months ago by history_bookworm
2,220 of 2,729 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's been done, Mr. O'Reilly, and more accurately.
As someone who has studied Lincoln and books on the assassination since I was about 8 (that would be, sigh, about 50 years), I figured I'd give O'Reilly's book a try, assuming that since he had written it so shortly after some great Lincoln books (Abraham Lincoln: A Life, by Michael Burlingame; Blood on the Moon by Edward Steers) that there must be something unique about...
Published on October 3, 2011 by Anthony B. Ford
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1,258 of 1,448 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars O'Reilly Delivers, Unlike Most Reviews of the Book,
This review is from: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (Hardcover)It seems that most reviews of the book are by one of two types of reviewers: 1. the reviewer either loves or hates O'Reilly, or 2. the reviewer either loved or hated how it was written. Here is my take, leaving the personal feelings about the author aside, Killing Lincoln delivers on its mission. Many rip O'Reilly apart for it not being an in depth treatment of his death and surrounding events. Here's a news flash: it's not supposed to be. It is not written as a doctoral dissertation on the subject nor is it intended to be. It is not intended to give every detail about what happened. It is intended to be an engaging read that follows the events surrounding Lincoln's last days. It is intended to be written from the perspective of putting the reader on the streets of D.C. during those days, putting you into Ford's Theater the night of the killing. In that regard it delivers. Here is my recommendation for this book: give this book to someone that you want to get interested in history. Give it to a student and let them see that history does not have to be boring. Give it to someone that loves novels, but hates non-fiction and let them discover how engaging and important history is and can be. On that level O'Reilly delivers.
369 of 441 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for O'Reilly -- But a nap for Steers,
This review is from: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (Hardcover)I absolutely loved this book. First, since it seems to be an issue in the reviews, Mr. O'Reilly and I are opposites politically. I never watch his show. After reading the reviews, I bought, instead, Edward Steers' Blood on the Moon. I am sorry, I know it is well researched, and painstakingly accurate, but it didn't keep my attention. After several weeks, I was only at 17% in my Kindle when I decided to buy Bill O'Reilly's book. WOW! I could not put it down and read it in two sittings. You feel like you are right there watching the events. I have never experienced Civil War battles as I did these. I have never really known Abraham Lincoln before now. I have never fully appreciated the reasons behind the war. While reading, I was on the battlefield, I shared Mr. Lincoln's thoughts and feelings, I was there with the young doctor tending to Lincoln after he was shot, and I experienced John Wilkes Booth's pain as he attempted to escape after breaking his leg. This book is powerful. This book takes you there, and you will long remember the names and events. This is the best book I have read in a long time. Thank you, Mr. O'Reilly.
2,220 of 2,729 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's been done, Mr. O'Reilly, and more accurately.,
This review is from: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (Hardcover)As someone who has studied Lincoln and books on the assassination since I was about 8 (that would be, sigh, about 50 years), I figured I'd give O'Reilly's book a try, assuming that since he had written it so shortly after some great Lincoln books (Abraham Lincoln: A Life, by Michael Burlingame; Blood on the Moon by Edward Steers) that there must be something unique about it. Unfortunately, I came away not really seeing what the new approach was. While it is supposedly written like a thriller, I find it to be prone to abbreviation and errors as noted by one of the one-star reviewers here (i.e. talking about the Oval Office, which was not built when Lincoln was president, but in 1909 when Taft was president, and a gross misrepresentation of how Mary Surratt was treated -- she NEVER wore a hood while imprisoned, and she was NEVER on the "Montauk", etc.). Throwing in a long-discredited conspiracy theory supposedly linking Secretary of War Edwin Stanton into the mix was completely unnecessary, unless the idea was to give readers already convinced that JFK was assassinated by space aliens something new to obsess over. A list of errors written by the Assistant Superintendent of the Ford's Theatre Historical Site, by no means complete, but enough for the NPS Eastern National bookstore at Ford's Theatre to avoid selling this book, may easily be found on the internet (I will be glad to give you the link if you can't find it). The Theatre gift shop IS selling it, but not the National Park Service store, due to inaccuracies. You will see many reviews here (five-star ones) stating that "this book was not written for historians." Does that mean that lousy research is just fine for the unwashed masses? Wouldn't the casual reader be served much better by reading information, whether or not it's entertaining -- and yes, it's an entertaining and easy read -- that had been verified by research? I just cannot understand the mindset of "it wasn't written for historians, so errors are just fine, as long as it gets people to read about history." Baloney.
What O'Reilly has going for him is a built-in audience who went out in droves to buy this book because he talked about it every day on The O'Reilly Factor. I watch him casually, and I figured, "Why not? One more book to add to my Lincoln collection (which is fairly large after fifty years)." As you should be able to see, my purchase of this book is verified at Amazon, and, in fact, I preordered it because the mention on the O'Reilly Factor got my interest. Unfortunately, it won't be up in the top tier of my Lincoln assassination material. It's OK for the casual reader who wants to learn something about the Lincoln assassination. It's too hurried and flies through things that need to be dealt with in a less perfunctory manner, I think. As O'Reilly notes in his show that Abraham Lincoln was the "gold standard" for the Presidency, I will say here that, for the "gold standard" of books written on the Lincoln assassination, no better work can be found than the book "Blood on the Moon," by Edward Steers -- you can see it here at Amazon at Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln). If you only have one book on this subject, the Steers book is the book to have. If you just want to be up on the latest O'Reilly books, then get this one. It's not horrible, but it tells the reader nothing new, and oftentimes it tells the reader much LESS than he/she needs to know, and, as noted, sometimes incorrectly.
So, in summary, it was just OK, which is why I gave it an average rating. A few minor errors wouldn't have dropped it below four stars, but for a Lincoln researcher it would be considered a young person's primer. For someone seriously interested in the subject, get the Steers book and pass this one by. Just because O'Reilly has a multi-million person audience to whom he can hawk his wares, it doesn't mean it's great work. I hope people are not writing off an honest review because they think I'm picking on O'Reilly. The only POSSIBLE reason that this book took off so fast on the bestseller lists is because it was publicized on the O'Reilly Factor, not because it was so much better than any of the other books written about the Lincoln assassination. There has been much back-and-forth about this for some time. Dishonest people who didn't read the book but hate O'Reilly gave it one-star reviews without ever opening it. O'Reilly fans have an attack of the vapors at anything less than a five-star review. The purpose of this review was to inform, not to express ideology. I stand by this review. If you don't like it, that's fine, but don't attack me simply because you're sticking up for Bill O'Reilly (a futile wish, apparently). Again -- I watch The O'Reilly Factor. I am also a Lincoln scholar. Take this review at face value.
42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much new,
The pending DNA comparison of Booth's vertebrae and that of relatives is one new development, however. I think it is highly unlikely that Booth was not killed as recorded in history. There are always a lot more conspiracy theories than there are conspiracies.
Some of the details in the book were quite interesting and made events seem more vivid. The book does not contain footnotes, so it was impossible to tell whether these were real or just filler added for the story.
The book contains several typos. I have seen this in other new books recently. With spell-check and all the other electronic tools available today it would seem there would be no such errors. This speaks poorly of modern publishers and the publishing process.
At the time of my review, 88% of the 2758 reviews are either 5 stars or 1 and about equally split between these. I have not read any of the other reviews but it is obvious something else is going on here, probably because of the author's background. I find Amazon reviews very useful for evaluating products before purchase. It is a shame to see people attempt to use them as a political tool rather than their intended purpose.
597 of 784 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother reading.... THESE 1-STAR REVIEWS!,
This review is from: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (Kindle Edition)I have no comment on the book, as I came here to read some of the reviews prior to purchase. Upon arrival to this page, I found it fascinating that a book could have almost as many 1-star reviews as 5-star reviews. Why, something must be amiss! Having nothing better to do on a dreary Sunday afternoon, I set out to count the number of Amazon Verified Purchases of the 1-star reviewers. Much to my surprise and dismay, there were only FOUR (yes, 4) Verified purchases out of 1,158 reviews. How could this be? Could it be that people just come here (having purchased the book from other sources, of course) to review the book to help out the Amazon faithful?
After having traversed 116 pages of one star reviews to count up those Verified purchases, I really didn't feel like doing the same for the 5-star ratings, but in the interest of science I set out to do the count. Well, after finding SIX Verified purchases on only the first page of 5-star reviews, I got occupied (whoops - I meant lazy) and decided that statistically, it just made more sense to trust those 5-star reviewers whom I knew actually purchased the book.
I would appreciate it if Amazon could add a filter to the review page so that one could see the ratings from Amazon Verified Purchases only. Perhaps then the ratings might actually be meaningful.
Thank you to all the 1-star reviewers who took the time to perform the selfless act of coming to Amazon's web site, creating a login, and posting your review. However, I can't shake this nagging feeling that perhaps you really didn't come here to review the book, but maybe had some other agenda. Eh, it's probably just me. I'm sure nobody else feels that way.
Anyway, I'll post a review of the book after I actually read it (which you'll be able to tell from the Amazon Verified Purchase).
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the "thriller" part?,
By contrast, the book actually includes an 1865 article from Harpers (in the Appendix) recounting the assassination. It was as if O'Reilly wanted to shout out to us: "Yes, I do know what better writing looks like; and this is an example for you to compare."
O'Reilly says that his book is written like a thriller. I missed that entirely.
Yes, I know, O'Reilly was once a school teacher; perhaps he should reconsider floating that to us as a bragging point.
Apparently, O'Reilly is upset with how much of history has been re-written and/or expunged from the history texts used in today's government schools. And on that one point I share the enthusiasm that students be encouraged to break free from the text book tyranny.
The stark absence of scholarly style suggests to me that O'Reilly may have been targeting a junior high audience. And, I understand that a "special illustrated" version was so quickly released that junior high must have been part of the author's original vision for this work.
Along with scholarly style comes scholarly method: there is some hint that some of the details are fabricated for this telling: yes, "made up." Since I read this one on my Kindle, I didn't make notes in the margins to refer back to. Actually, this is a great book for the Kindle --- since the book itself wouldn't lend much stature to your library shelves.
O'Reilly did not claim to have actually written this book, but he does want to take credit for bringing together the parts of the story he wanted to tell; he refers to this as "doing the research." The other part of doing the research was scheduling vacation visits to the various historical sites: that's what we mean today by "research."
What about the history and the new insights? Well, there were no sweeping insights for me; but I was on the lookout for a new perspective or even an new aspect from which to view the major conflicts at play. But alas, I didn't find anything new or insightful -- unless you count the implication that General Grant was henpecked by his wife, Julia. I want corroboration before I accept even that as historically correct.
The stunning slaughter that was the Civil War is mostly lost on students today. O'Reilly does offer up a picture of full-speed slaughtering, right up to the very end of the war. An interested junior high student could then look into the issue further in other works.
I noticed on 12.15.2012 that O'Reilly's companion book, "Killing Kennedy," was #2 on CSPAN's bestseller list; a Pulitzer Prize winning author was #3; and "Killing Lincoln" was #4. This may or may not be an indictment on the reading discrimination of Americans, but it does seem to scream out that these books are being pumped out for some quick cash since O'Reilly has a rich advertising pulpit from which to promote his wares
340 of 463 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with factual errors,
Pg 210 "Rather than give Peanut John the shiny nickel the boy had hoped for..."
Sorry, but the first nickel was minted in 1866. In 1865 the 5 cent coin was a small silver coin called the Half Dime.
Pg 197 Describing the home of Secretary Seward, O'Reilly says "Tragedy paid a visit to the building in 1859, when a congressman shot his mistress's husband on a nearby lawn. The Husband, Philip Barton Key......"
Um, not quite. The congressman was Daniel Sickles, who would later become a famous General at Gettysburg. He killed Key, who was his WIFE's lover, NOT his mistress's husband.
Big difference, and an inexcusable error in a "history book", written by a history teacher.
Pg 264 Describing Lincoln's funeral train "In what will be called the greatest funeral in the history of the United States, thirty million people will take time from their busy lives to see this very special train...."
Really? 30 million people? Let's see, there were 31 million people in the 1860 Census, which included the southern states, slaves, and also the western states like California.
So apparently, every man, woman, and child in the United States, including all the southern states and California, must have made their way to one of the cities in MD, PA, NY, OH, IN or IL, where the train stopped, and paid their respects to Lincoln.
This error is just laughable.
If the research was this sloppy, it makes me wonder what other "facts" he got wrong or didn't bother to check.
Again, I like O'Reilly but this is inexcusable, and his credibility is diminished. I'm giving the history teacher an "F".
53 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interest-grabbing telling of perhaps our most tragic hour,
302 of 416 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting,
41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Researched and Interesting Documentary,
This review is from: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever (Kindle Edition)Wow, what a great read - I thought I knew a lot about Lincoln and the other players on both sides of the war during this era, but I was really struck and impressed at how well-researched this book was and how the story is told in a conversational tone. Throw in some well-documented "what if" of a larger conspiracy theory, this book will really get you thinking.
To summarize part of the ending of this book, the tragedy and assassination of Lincoln should be known by every American as his life and death continue to shape us as a people and a nation today, as the good represented by Lincoln represents the good that can make us stronger today.
I would say I'm surprised at all of the negative reviews of the book but I'm not - the O'Reilly haters who didn't purchase the book went on a negative spree. Ignore those, as this is not a political book but a well-documented history and worth a read.
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Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Martin Dugard (Hardcover - September 27, 2011)