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The Legend of John Wilkes Booth: Myth, Memory, and a Mummy (Cultureamerica) Hardcover – November 10, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A fresh new perspective on both Booth and American culture."

From the Back Cover

"In all the carnival of American culture, surely nothing was more bizarre than the odyssey of the supposed mummy of Lincoln's assassin. Booth is in our memories, and Evans ably demonstrates why we refuse to put him out."--William C. Davis, author of The Cause Lost

"In the nether world of conspiracy theories the irrational trumps the rational. This book helps us understand why."--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"No reader of this fascinating and fast-paced narrative will be less than mesmerized."--Bertram Wyatt-Brown, author of The Shaping of Southern Culture

"A fresh new perspective on both Booth and American culture."--Edward L. Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies

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Product Details

  • Series: Cultureamerica
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (November 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700613528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700613526
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,704,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By mwreview on June 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because of its intriguing cover and title and because I have a fascination, like a lot of readers, with John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin. C. Wyatt Evans' work started out a lot different than the fun, mass audience-oriented book I expected. It reads like the over-analytical, pedantic works my professors forced me to read in grad school. Evans analyzes the long-running myth (both regional and national) that Booth was not fatally shot in a barn by Sergeant Boston Corbett's nervous trigger finger as government authorities claimed but had escaped and lived out his life in various ways depending on the storyteller. The suicide death of painter and drifter David George in 1903 in Enid, Oklahoma propelled the myth. George supposedly claimed he was Booth and his embalmed remains were put on display at various carnivals and exhibits for years. Evans' introduction is extremely pedantic to the point that I had to read very carefully and slowly (and sometimes several times) to follow along. A sample sentence: "Vernacular, counter, marginal, and associated terms serve as keywords in a cultural critical lexicon that employs them in a positive sense to connote the struggle of marginalized groups to preserve their identities in the face of the dominant group's rendition of the past" (p. 15). Much of the introduction reads this way and if it continued as such, I may have given up. Fortunately, Evans drops a lot of the intellectual buzz words and the rest of the book reads more smoothly. The following briefly describes the content per chapter:

Chapter 1 takes a look at the David George story; why he was thought by some to be Booth and how his corpse ended up an attraction. In addition, Evans considers the history of Enid, OK including its famous land "runs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Bloodgood on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My father always said he was one of the last people alive who ate dinner with John ( they would sit him at the end of table when the exhibition ended each day).
He did travel with "the stiff" and his partner exhibited him next door to my father's geek trap---Neoloa, strangest of all strange creatures....Alive! It was offered on the midway of the Ruben and Cherry's Greater Combined Shows. He told much the same story as is told in the book, but he believed that it was indeed the real John who made the rounds of the carnival circuit with them. "Everything I said and displayed was always true.", he would often tell me. "But, John was MORE true than some of the others. "The stiff had six toes on one foot, a broken tibia, a signet ring top with the letter "b" in his left lung passage, and a damaged thumb on one hand". Read the book. Decide for yourself. And, by all means, as my father would say...."Never let the turth get in the way of a good story."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Branstetter on December 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In response to one of the criticisms of this book, it should be noted that it is an adaptation of a Ph.D. dissertation, so it does read a little more difficult than most popular literature. I was a fellow student with Wyatt Evans and remember some of the process he went through in his years of research. His final conclusions are based upon meticulous research under the direction of a very demanding graduate school dissertation committee.
So, I believe the fact that it reads a little bit difficult is a significant point in its favor. It is a thorough work, the conclusions of which are not to be lightly pushed aside.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was well researched with about 30 pages of footnotes, but I was hoping this would be more of a history of the Booth Mummy, and it turned out to be more of a commentary of social and societal views of the assassination 40 years and more after the fact and using the Booth Mummy to explain them. The book did have some interesting points, but they were scattered throughout the book. I felt like I was reading someone's expanded college thesis. It was tiresome.
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The Legend of John Wilkes Booth: Myth, Memory, and a Mummy (Cultureamerica)
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