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Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution Paperback – May 20, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This beautifully produced, groundbreaking volume of over 300 documents, portraits, memorabilia and arcana relating to Lincoln's assassination manages to transcend its immediate historical importance to become something artistically unique. Swanson and Weinberg, both Lincoln collectors and scholars, have assembled a remarkable collection of images relating to the assassination and the fate of its perpetrators (whose guilt some historians question today), including many that have not been easily available before. Some of the more common images include memorial posters of the assassination, wanted posters, newspaper reports and reproductions of plates from books about the event. They also reproduce letters from a young John Wilkes Booth as well as hand-written death warrants issued by the Union army. But the centerpiece of the volume is the collection of photographs taken by Alexander Gardner of six of the indicted conspirators as they awaited trial. These photographs formally posed, beautifully shot and eerily evocative are reminiscent of the work of artists such as Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe. Equally moving and disturbing are Gardner's photographs of the executions by hanging of several of the conspirators photos in which one can see the reality of death. Swanson and Weinberg contribute enough text to place all of these artifacts in historical context and provide an intelligent, informative primer on the topic. (Nov.)Forecast: While the idea of a coffee-table or art book on such a topic might seem grisly, this volume achieves high marks in both categories and will be read and examined by both academics and Civil War enthusiasts.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“[A] fascinating book.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Even the most serious Civil War devotee can expect to find something new here.” (Chicago Tribune)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061237620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061237621
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a fabulous photographic piece on the Lincoln assasination, covering the events and the people involved. The artifacts that are pictured are truly excellent examples. The quality of the photographs make for a wonderful book with great content. Many of the photos included have never been seen before. Swanson and Weinberg have put together a wonderful book that should be on every Lincoln bookshelf! I hope that the authors consider producing other fine books about President Lincoln that follow the same format. This is a great companion book to "Blood on the Moon" by Edward Steers, Jr..
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By Publius on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What Weinberg and Swanson give us here is a journey back in time to the Spring and Summer of 1865. For some reason, Lincoln assassination scholarship has been gaining interest of late with Swanson's other book entitled "Manhunt." No doubt, interest is also gaining momentum with the proposed Harrison Ford movie about the assassination. Nevertheless, Swanson's book is destined to be a classic illustrated compendium of the events around Lincoln's death. It is equal or maybe even better to Kunhardt's "Twenty Days" which was published during the 1960's.

The stories behind the photographs are well worth mentioning. In particular, there is a very poignant story of a soldier leaning on the scaffolding for the gallows during the execution. That soldier is right below Mary Surratt, and in one of Gardner's pictures (which were beautifully restored for this book) you can see this soldier puking as the death warrant is read aloud. Another story which Weinberg and Swanson relate is how the 4 hooded prisoners could hear, the night before their execution, the gallows being constructed. Overall, a great companion piece to either Swanson's "Manhunt" or any other book on the Assassination.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful addition to the book collection of any reader of Lincoln or civil war history. I have studied the story of the Lincoln conspirators for nearly 20 years, and have read a lot of fine material on the subject, but this book contains amazing photos I did not know existed. Where one may have seen a single picture of the conspirators or their July 1865 hanging.......this book contains pages and pages of photos of them, taken shortly before their execution, often from the original glass negatives. Of course, it also contains a vivid narrative of their trial and last moments. Others have written superb accounts of these events. This book is "worth it just for the photos."
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Format: Hardcover
This is a truly excllent monograpraph with some intriguing photographs and commentary not available before this account. This is a beautiful treatment of what happened to the almost mystical and undeniably lunaticical cadre of villains responsible for one of America's most horrifying and haunting domestic events. Like everything else that this dark chapter in US history provokes, these pictures catapult the reader back onto the streets of Washington D.C. where you stand as witness to this shocking tale.
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Format: Hardcover
"They are forgotten now, long buried in their graves." So begins this compelling pictorial book on the trial and execution of Lincoln's assassins. The photographs are excellent and have a way to drawing the reader back into the 19th century. People who were relatively unknown jump off the pages as flesh and blood who plotted one of the most evil deeds in our nation's history. Take time to read the copies of handwritten letters that Swanson has included. Written in cursive (a style that is almost lost in the 21st century), the letters bring the characters to life. Swanson and Weinberg's work is an important piece of our national history.
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This is more of a picture book than a text-laden history book, but it's the appeal of the many photos, pictures, illustrations, and even cartoons that make this book a fascinating one to read. The book includes photos of all the conspirators, in life as well as death, along with other interesting details such as a letter Booth wrote as a teenager. Today few remember that John Wilkes Booth was the teenage heart-throb of his day, making it all the more shocking when he was involved in the assassination.

The details of the trial sound like something from some fantastic kangaroo court, not the U.S. For example, the defense had no time to marshall their case, interview or call witnesses, or even to meet much with their clients. The jury was composed of generals and military men, not civilians, and their decision would be final, with no right of appeal.There were indeed judges in the courtroom, but they were watching from the audience.

The public and the press constantly talked about their favorite conspirators, of which the young, handsome and dashing looking Lewis Powell was the favorite, who attempted to kill secretary of state William Seward with a Bowie knife on the night of the assassination, rather than the president, but was foiled. Even the decision of who to prosecute left many questions unanswered, as several suspects with far more incriminating evidence weren't even brought to trial, whereas others with less evidence were tried and executed. The authors suggest that this might have had more to do with who actually plotted the murder vs. who was involved with post-assassination attempts to shelter Booth.

However, it's the stunning visual presentation here rather than the now well known history that is the star here. This book will be enjoyed by any history or Americana buffs or anyone interested in a well done presentation of a unique event in our history.
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