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Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford's Theatre Hardcover – November 4, 2013
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—Erik Jendresen, writer/producer of Killing Lincoln and Band of Brothers
"Just when we thought there was nothing new to learn about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre comes this important book by theater historian Tom Bogar. It brings the actors and actresses of Ford’s Theatre finally—and fully—to life. In a masterpiece of skillful research and synthesis, Bogar immerses us in one of the most dramatic moments in American history while answering questions we thought were unanswerable. A definitive treatment."
—Terry Alford, author of Fortune's Fool: The Biography of John Wilkes Booth and John Wilkes Booth: A Sister's Memoir
"Thomas A. Bogar’s exemplary, balanced, and innovative investigation of the traumatic event of April 14, 1865 at Washington’s Ford’s Theatre will quickly become an essential study among the plethora of books on Lincoln’s assassination. Yet unlike previous tomes that often focus on various conspiracy theories, Lincoln and his killer, actor John Wilkes Booth, take something of a backseat to the forty-six actors, managers, and stagehands present that night in Bogar’s original perspective. Meticulously researched and documented, written in a lively and engrossing narrative style, this unique book presents the reader with a vivid and engrossing examination of the impact the assassination had on each of those present backstage or, in the case of the manager, closely involved, with the performance that fateful evening. Bogar follows each of the forty-six from their activities that day to their deaths, tantalizingly noting controversies and questions still unanswered. Even the most ardent of Lincoln assassination addicts will find much to savor and learn in this terrific book."
—Don B. Wilmeth, editor of The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre and coeditor of The Cambridge History of American Theatre; editor of the series, Palgrave Studies in Theatre&Performance History
"Though many books have been written about the Lincoln assassination, many gaps in the story remain. One of the most obvious of these surrounds the people who worked at the scene of the crime—the actors, managers, and stage crew of Ford's Theatre in Washington. Being acquainted and, in some cases, close to the assassin, they were potential suspects in the case. Some were arrested in the aftermath of the shooting, and one was convicted on the strength of divided testimony from his colleagues. Each survived the experience and moved on with their lives. A few continued their careers on the stage, but most faded into oblivion. Now, with the publication of this marvelous book, Professor Bogar has brought those forty-six important characters back into the spotlight. In doing so, he clears away a century and a half of folklore and mythology, and reminds us how even the minor figures have fascinating stories to tell. They were there, they saw it all, and now at last, their stories will be heard. This is long overdue."
—Michael Kauffman, author of American Brutus
"By uncovering the stories of the largely anonymous actors, managers and stagehands whose lives were changed forever at Ford's Theater, Tom Bogar has found a fresh and exciting angle on the events of April 1865. This is a fascinating account, and an important piece of research."
—Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
"Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination is a must read for anyone interested in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination or history in general. Author Tom Bogar has accomplished something no other author has: he has put a face to the names of so many people other authors only mention in passing (or not at all). Finally all these folks have been brought to life. The effect the assassination had on the lives of the Ford’s Theatre employees and actors is ignored in the standard Lincoln assassination books. For the first time an author has researched the lives of all these overlooked people. It’s difficult to call any Lincoln assassination book unique as there are over 120 of them; but Tom Bogar’s book is indeed a unique addition to Lincoln assassination lore."
—Roger Norton, founder/moderator, Lincoln Discussion Symposium and Abraham
Lincoln Research Site
"Most Lincoln assassination books follow the well-documented trail of Booth into Maryland and Virginia, repeating often-told stories. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination stays behind at Ford’s Theatre, giving an old tale a new, fresh focus that other historians missed for the past 150 years."
—Clint Johnson, author of A Vast and Fiendish Plot: The Confederate Attack on New York City
"History tells us that the Lincoln Assassination amounted to more than the work of lone gunman John Wilkes Booth. Tom Bogar shows us in this revealing and riveting book just how much more. Bogar has fleshed out stunning details involving more than a few suspects who were inside Ford’s Theater that fateful nightalong with other never-before-seen primary source material. Highly recommended."
—Marc Leepson, author of Flag: An American Biography, Saving Monticello, Desperate Engagement and Lafayette: Idealist General
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On many levels this book is a revelation. Many of those who entertained Lincoln that evening actually had secessionist sympathies, and the author rightfully questions whether there were those in the cast and crew who may have known that something momentous was going to happen that evening, albeit a kidnapping attempt rather than murder. He also gives us an overview of the theatrical stock company system of the Civil War era and a synopsis of the plot of Our American Cousin. For obvious reasons, he focuses a great deal of his attention on the case against Spangler and the reader is left sympathizing with this poor illiterate man who may have known about Booth's kidnapping scheme but was probably just as shocked by the murder as anyone else. Also touching are the efforts made on Spangler's behalf by his boss, John T. Ford, who paid for his defense attorney, and then worked to get him pardoned by President Johnson. Anyone who wants a fresh look at this forever fascinating topic should purchase this book.