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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

ANDREW C.A. JAMPOLER is also the author of the award-winning book Adak as well as Sailors in the Holy Land. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, he became a sales and marketing executive in the international aerospace industry. Now a resident of Loudoun County, VA, he has been writing full time for a decade.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591144078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591144076
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,654,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Jampoler lives in the Lost Corner of Loudoun County, Virginia, with his wife, Susan, a professional geographer, and their two golden retrievers. They have married children in Pennsylvania and Iowa. He is an alumnus of Columbia College and the School of International and Public Affairs, both of Columbia University, in New York City, and of the U.S. State Department Foreign Service Institute's School of Language Study. During more than twenty years on active duty with the U.S. Navy Jampoler commanded a land-based maritime patrol aircraft squadron and a naval air station. Later he was a senior sales and marketing executive in the international aerospace industry.

Jampoler has been writing full time for a dozen years. Most recently, the Naval Institute Press published his "Horrible Shipwreck!," a book about the wreck of His Majesty's Transport Amphitrite, a bark driven aground in a furious storm September 1833 a half mile off Boulogne-sur-mer, France. Amphitrite was transporting female convicts from Woolwich, England to Botany Bay, New South Wales. One hundred eight women, twelve children, and thirteen of the crew--all but three aboard--drowned when her captain refused assistance from shore, fearing the possibility that some of the prisoners would escape and that he would be held responsible. "I never saw so many fine and beautiful bodies," wrote a mournful observer walking the beach the next day, "Some of the women were almost perfectly made." Fifteen years ago the wreck was identified as the subject of English painter J. M. W. Turner's unfinished 1835 masterpiece, "Fire at Sea."

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. The book will be available in audio in April 2013.

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 new books will come 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, will be 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, will be available as an e-book later in the 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. Jampoler has given illustrated presentations about the subjects of his books and articles to audiences at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, in museums and embassies, at book stores, and aboard cruise ships.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Williams on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a long time student of the Lincoln Assassination, I was very glad to see this study of John Surratt's escape and trial. There is a lot of good information here, but on the whole, the book is a disappointment. Jampoler writes with something of a haughty style. He never uses one word if three or four can be found and at times it seemed like he was just fleshing out the manuscript to make it long enough to publish. An annoying habit is referring to a person by who they are related to, rather than by their name. At one point, John Surratt is termed "Anna's youngest brother." Mary Surratt is once called "Issac and John Surratt's mother." Also, in the note on page 37, Jampoler takes a swipe at actor Charlton Heston for no apparent reason. He goes into great detail explaining how to hang a person, and even refers to the lynching scene in the 1943 movie "The Ox-Bow Incident." Jampoler provides long histories of the ships that Surratt sailed on, and also gives detailed biographies of the captains of those ships. This breaks up the narration of Surratt's escape and indicates Jampoler's tendency to flit from subject to subject. On page 26, the first two full paragraphs discuss Booth's charisma, the third paragraph mentions his escape plans, which include going to Mexico. The following paragraphs are a long description of the political situation in Mexico and a discussion of Emperor Maximilian. Later, Jampoler feels the need to provide a very long sequence giving the details of Jefferson Davis' flight from Richmond and his capture by Union troops. The narration of Surratt's trial is very detailed and was obviously expertly researched by Jampoler. However, a criticism is that he does not mention Honora Fitzpatrick.Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on November 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A most interesting book on the escape, then criminal justice activity involving John Surratt, a son of the first woman executed by the federal government and himself charged with being in on the conspiracy to murder President Lincoln.

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.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joel R. VINE VOICE on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The fateful seconds of a football game are many times determined by the momentum of numerous previous plays. Of course, during ESPN Sportscenter, you only see the scoring plays without the background material. Andrew Jampoler ensures that you get most of the requisite background material to understand the world situation that enabled the escape of John Surratt, "The Last Lincoln Conpirator."

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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By on October 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Oh dear. This is one of the most disappointing books I've ever read. It falls into a rare category: books I almost stop reading because they are so bad. Still, I plugged through to the very end, in no small part because it was a gift and the person who gave it to me was so excited about giving it to me. Was it worth it? Absolutely not.

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.
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