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The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies Paperback – September 1, 1989
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Hanchett examines these conspiracy theories and the people who put forward the theories in an attempt to find out if a higher authority, civil or religious, ordered John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators to kill Lincoln and members of his Cabinet. By examining each theory individually as well as the motives behind those who suggested the theories, Hanchett does an excellent job of refuting some of the more unlikely theories.
Hanchett 'cleans house', in a way, by chronicling the popular, controversial, and outlandish theories and conspiracies that had dominated the prior 100 years and change. Particular emphasis was paid to the likes of Otto Eisenschiml and his 'Stanton' conspiracy theory, the theories about Jefferson and the Canadian Confederate agents directing Booth, some strange theories involving Lincoln himself (including one bizarre tale of Lincoln purportedly telling a former Supreme Court Justice, who was a Confederate, that he wanted him to come back to help legally defeat the 14th amendment), and the 'Catholic connection' conspiracy theory, among others. One of the strengths of this book is the way he tackles these theories, details the people on who started them, the milieu in which they were born, and then the ways in which they are found wanting. He does not tell the full story of either the assassination or the escape and capture (a point he makes clear at the outset), thus this is a poor book with which to begin learning about the events of April 1865, but it is invaluable if one wants to look back and deepen one's understanding of the progression of thought and the whys and hows of some of the more pervasive myths.
Succinct, clear, and well-researched, Hanchett has written a book that any Lincoln/Booth aficionado should read at some point.
Some might complain at the author's scholarly overkill (too many footnotes, too much repetition), but that's exactly what is needed. Did Booth escape the burning barn so that a body double was killed and buried? Easily debunked. Were the Jesuits pulling the strings to get rid of Lincoln? Easily debunked. What about those pages ripped out of Booth's diary? Easily explained.
People who are so eager to accept any conspiracy ("If it could have happened this way, it must have happened this way!") need to read this book and accept the fact that sometimes the most plausible explanation is the true explanation. Everything about this book is fair and level-headed. Nothing wild and sensational here. The prose is cold and clear and lucid. It's hard not to accept the author's main points. It's well worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very convincing study of different conspiracies, both by Booth and others to capture Lincoln during the war and when the war ended, the conspiracies turned to murder, with Booth... Read morePublished 26 days ago by 18booth65
William Hanchett is an apologist for Edwin Stanton. Apparently Stanton can do no wrong. He makes one excuse after another, absolving Stanton's actions regarding Lincoln's... Read morePublished on September 22, 2012 by Amazon Customer
I have read most of the books on the Lincoln Assassination and this one seems to be very well researched. Read morePublished on July 27, 2012 by hawks22
For a Lincoln assassination buff, I'd rate this book as essential. Thoroughly documented with excellent notes and a good bibliography, it pulls together many rumors and most of the... Read morePublished on December 23, 2011 by Barry Sharpe
I've had it with all these idiotic "conspiracy books" that flood the market. If it's not JFK, it's space aliens and "black helicopters" and sad to say, Abraham... Read morePublished on June 11, 2004 by Peter Stines