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The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 3, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Was Mary Surratt an accomplice in Lincoln's assassination and justly sent to the scaffold? Larson freshly tackles these questions in this spirited narrative, mining just about every shred of evidence. While having started out believing in her subject's innocence, she ends up convinced that Surratt was guilty of joining John Wilkes Booth's plot to kill the president. Less sure, however, that Surratt should have swung from the gallows, Larson (Bound for the Promised Land) leaves this deeply freighted moral question open, as it should be. The tale itself could not be better told, nor could the cast of characters be brought more to life. What mars the work is Larson's maddening, anachronistic use of Mary to name her subject (no Abe for Lincoln here, no John for Booth) and her missing the chance to draw out the implications of the role of Surratt—a widow in an otherwise all-male plot—for our understanding of women's place in her day. But it's now up to those who still think Surratt innocent to prove Larson wrong. They'll be hard put to do so. Illus., maps. (June)
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"Larson captures brilliantly the atmosphere of Mary Surratt's trial in a crowded court room -- murder trials attract morbid spectators -- during the sweltering heat of a Washington summer. Her description of the drama of Mary's last hours, when she was broken by a death sentence that neither she nor her lawyers had believed possible, makes compelling reading."
“Larson captures brilliantly the atmosphere of Mary Surratt’s trial in a crowded court room — murder trials attract morbid spectators — during the sweltering heat of a Washington summer. Her description of the drama of Mary’s last hours, when she was broken by a death sentence that neither she nor her lawyers had believed possible, makes compelling reading.”
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Top customer reviews
She wrote a mini-review of Robert Redford's movie, The Conspirator, which he based on this book.
She wrote a lengthy introduction giving an overview of the times and situation in which Mary Surratt's "trial" and execution took place and a large bibliography at the end which lists her sources by chapter.
Although the author says in her introduction that she began the research supposing that Mrs. Surratt was much less guilty than the charges against her, the book proves to be difficult reading. The research, she says, proves the point of even more involvement of Mrs. Surratt in being a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The author uses phrases put together to deem Mrs. Surratt guilty. I found most of the book seemed to be written from a Northern point of view.
Whether or not Mrs. Surratt was guilty as charged is a moot point at this time. I would be careful in recommending this book to anyone. I did not find the writing easy to follow or very enjoyable. However, it did describe the physical conditions of the courtroom, the jail cells, crowds and the newspapers' reporting very well. The author did a tremendous amount of work with all the research that went into this story and should be commended for that.