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The Last Lincoln Conspirator: John Surratt's Flight from the Gallows Hardcover – October 15, 2008
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About the Author
More About the Author
Jampoler has been writing non-fiction full time for some fifteen years. Most recently, the Naval Institute Press published his "Embassy to the Eastern Courts," the true and fascinating story of America's secret first pivot toward Asia during the Jackson administration. It's Jampoler's seventh book from NIP
His first book, "Adak: The Rescue of Alfa Foxtrot 586," is the true story of a navy patrol aircraft ditching in the North Pacific Ocean in October 1978. A review in May 2003 in the Wall Street Journal described the book as "an adventure story to rival the best you've ever read." "Adak" later won Jampoler recognition as the Press's "author of the year." The crew's story based on this book has been the subject of television specials in Russia and Japan.
His next book, "Sailors in the Holy Land: the 1848 American Expedition to the Dead Sea and the Search for Sodom and Gomorrah," is the story of the U.S. Navy's small boat expedition down the River Jordan and across the Dead Sea in mid-19th century. Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the award-winning "Sea of Glory," described the book in 2005 as telling "the fascinating story of one of the most improbable operations ever mounted by the U.S. Navy... a meticulously researched account."
"The Last Lincoln Conspirator: John Surratt's Flight from the Gallows," his third book, tells the remarkable story of John Harrison Surratt. Finally captured in Egypt eighteen months after his mother's execution on the same charge, Surratt was last person to go on trial for his role in John Wilkes Booth's plot to assassinate President Lincoln, and the only one to escape conviction.
Two books came out in 2013. "Congo," the true and tragic story of the United States and the Congo in the late 19th century, as seen through the life of Lieutenant Emory Taunt, US Navy, was published in June. Taunt was the first resident American diplomat in Equatorial West Africa. He died on the river in disgrace in 1891. Jampoler's research for this book took him 1,400 miles down the Congo River, from Kisangani to Banana Point, in a small boat in 2011. "Black Rock and Blue Water," the story of the wreck of Royal Mail Ship Rhone in the Caribbean in 1867, came out as an e-book later that year.
Jampoler also writes for periodicals. An article of his in "Naval History" magazine was recognized by the publisher as its best piece of writing during 2006. Andy has given illustrated presentations about the subjects of his books and articles to audiences at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, at the Smithsonian and at museums and in embassies. He's lectured also aboard cruise ships at sea around the world.
He's now working on a book about the wreck in 1916 off Santo Domingo of the armored cruiser USS Memphis.
Top Customer Reviews
Andrew Jampoler writes with wry humor and from a deep fountain of knowledge as he takes the reader along on a brisk tale with many side journeys into interesting bits of historical and cultural information. You learn, among many things, about the Zouves, ship traffic over the Atlantic, the criminal justice system of late 1860s America, and the fate of many of the minor players (witnesses, prosecutors, defenders, etc.) involved in the attempt to wrap up of a crime that shook our nation. This is a volume where one profits by reading the footnotes.
This book does not claim to be a full history of the conspiracy, let alone of John Wilkes Booth. It does help for a reader to have some prior understanding of the events leading to Ford's Theatre. But if you want to know, as I did, how John Surratt ran, was caught, then beat the charge--read this book.
The book opens with eight of the nine Lincoln Conspirators in Federal custody awaiting their court date. Amidst the abundant background material, we learn of the trial and execution of four of the criminals, and life sentences in the Dry Tortugas for the remaining four. Jampoler describes the final hours of the condemned, and finishes the chapter with an analysis of the death penalty in 19th century America.
Surratt was in Elmira, New York on the date of the assassination on a spy mission for the confederacy. As news of the assassination broke across the United States, Surratt knew he was a wanted man. He quickly made the decision to flee the United States and try his luck elsewhere. Along with descriptions of the communities across Canada, England, Italy and the Vatican that were sympathetic to the Confederate cause, Jampoler traces the movements of Surratt through these countries. In many instances, there was no primary source material for Jampoler to draw from, so he uses alternate sources to describe what the times and environment would have been like for Surratt.
With the chapter of the trial, Jampoler finally hits his stride with an excellent summary of the 19th Century justice system in America, with John Surratt as the case study. A disbarment of one of the key lawyers; a mistrial; and a surprise verdict - this case had more twists than a good mystery novel.Read more ›
The problem is this book isn't about John Surratt and his odyssey at all. At best, Surratt's flight from Federal agents, subsequent recapture, and trial serve as a (very weak) linking narrative for subjects the author is much more interested in. In no particular order Jampoler covers 19th century steamship trade, anti-Catholic prejudices, Civil War prison camps, Liverpool and the British empire, the War of Italian Unification, Jefferson Davis's bio, Andrew Johnson's impeachment, Mark Twain, the Ottoman Empire, etc, etc.
It quickly becomes apparent that this is a historian suffering from a severe case of ADD. Surratt disappears for whole chapters at a time. Really, his mother Mary Surratt is given better coverage. Jampoler makes no attempt to flesh out Surratt as a living person that the reader might care about; he's just a cipher in his own story. All in all if one took all the pages that solely covered John Surratt, you'd end up with maybe 10-15% of the total book. There's barely enough material on the purported subject to fill a long magazine article, not a whole text.
This book is not worth your time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really liked this book. It really tells the story about how the tried to kill Abraham LincolnPublished 9 months ago by amelia negron
This book is a failure as a history of John Surratt, his flight and trials. There is very little specific information, no depth at all, and no analysis. Read morePublished 21 months ago by bookfan
I haven't read this book yet, but I know it will add a great deal to my study of Mary Surratt, her trial and ordeal, and shed light on what was going on with John while his mother... Read morePublished on April 13, 2013 by Lynn Buonviri
Just one thing missing from this book-John Surratt! The author veers wildly this way and that on every subject of the times except John Surratt. Read morePublished on October 23, 2012 by dennis r miller
I hate this book. It's not at all what I expected. It's not well written, just contains a bunch of facts and is difficult to follow or enjoy. Would not recommend it to anyone. Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by Vicki
When Jampoler's book was telling the story it set out to tell (and thus telling the story I purchased the book to read) it does a fine job of it. Read morePublished on July 10, 2010 by A. Berke
This is a very well written biography of the subject. Most readers who want to know more about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln already have at least a rudimentary knowledge... Read morePublished on May 27, 2010 by Atheen
President Lincoln was shot 14 April 1865. Secretary of State William Seward was seriously wounded during a separate attempt on his life that night. Read morePublished on April 1, 2009 by Rob Hardy