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Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln Hardcover – November 1, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Hurrah! Old Abe Lincoln has been assassinated!" wrote a South Carolina girl in her diary in 1865, giving palpable voice to the intense anti-Lincoln sentiments of the slaveholders and the South in general. This well-argued, often exciting account of an organized Confederate plot behind John Wilkes Booth's murder of the president both finely synthesizes traditional Lincoln assassination scholarship and proposes new proof and twists on already acknowledged possibilities. Steers, an avocational historian who has written several other books on Lincoln and the assassination, has a sharp ear for historical discordance and a novelist's eye for illuminating detail. Carefully filling in background (from Booth's relationship to theater and politics to the fascinating, complicated trial of co-conspirator Mary Surratt) for the nonspecialized reader, Steers gracefully disentangles a clutter of characters, historical details and hypotheses to prove his own conspiracy theory. Much of this material will be new to the common reader a Confederate plot to use yellow fever as a form of biological warfare against the North; the flight to the Vatican of Mary Surratt's son in an effort to escape prosecution after the assassination but Steers never loses his firm grip on his exciting primary narrative. Although he inclines toward purple prose in his more dramatic moments ("The deed was done. The tyrant was killed. Abraham Lincoln could burn in hell. Sic semper tyrannis!"), his theory is forthrightly and convincingly presented. Less a book for professional historians than U.S. history buffs and Lincoln diehards, this engaging expos‚ makes for provocative reading. 50 b&w illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"assassination and its aftermath.... Steers has become the pre-eminent researcher on the assassination." -- Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Assocation

"Few attempts at telling a comprehensive story of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln succeed so well in that comprehensiveness as Blood on the Moon." -- Allan C. Guelzo

"An essential part of a Lincoln library. Besides being the definitive work on the depressing events of April 1865, it is a unique source for refuting the misinformation, myths and lies that have grown up around them." -- America's Civil War

"What Steers has done is go back to trial testimony and eyewitness memoirs, not only to reconstruct events but to lay motives bare." -- Baltimore Sun

"Immediately takes its place as the standard by which all other books dealing with Lincoln's assassination will be judged: it is must reading for anyone interested in the Civil War or American history." -- Blue & Gray Magazine

"Fascinating.... The best account we have of the fateful event that did so much to change the course of American history." -- Bowling Green Daily News

"Offers a highly useful narrative of the Lincoln murder conspiracy, complete with provocative opinions and extensive documentation." -- Civil War Book Review

"Ought to find a place on most scholar' shelves." -- Columbia (SC) State

"With research and deductive reasoning that is persuasive, Steers proves that Mrs. Surratt's tavern in Maryland and boarding house in D.C. were both safe houses for Confederate agents." -- Easton (MD) Star-Democrat

"An exceptionally well-written and thorough book on the assassination. For anyone who is sincerely interested in the assassination, this book is a 'must read.'" -- Historian

"If you are going to read only one book on the Lincoln assassination, this is the one!" -- James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"Respected Lincoln scholar Dr. Edward Steers has here brought his research talents to bear on the assassination. It is refreshing to read that John Wilkes Booth was not a madman and that Dr. Samuel A. Mudd was not an innocent country physician as depicted in current Mudd family propaganda." -- James O. Hall

"Engagingly written, lively in style, and balanced in analysis, this book will take its place upon the short list of the finest studies of the Lincoln assassination." -- Journal of Illinois History

"Presents a tale that needs to be told: the real story behind the assassination of the 16th president." -- Kentucky Monthly

"The quality of research and the skillful presentation of the story of Lincoln's assassination will lead you well beyond the superficial facts that we've all been taught and into the depths of the conspiracy and the aftermath of John Wilkes Booth's world-shattering deed at Ford's Theater." -- Lexington Herald-Leader

"This should be the end-all of Lincoln assassination books." -- Louisville Courier-Journal

"What separates Blood on the Moon... is the depth and breadth of Steers' research." -- Morgantown Messenger

"Steers has written a careful synthesis of what is known about Lincoln's murder." -- New York Review of Books

"Reveals the extensive organization element of the Confederate secret service in southern Maryland, and its involvement with Booth from the earliest stages of the plot right up to his death." -- North & South

"Punctures the myths and misrepresentations that have so long been part of the history." -- Political Bandwagon

"Steers has a sharp ear for historical discordance and a novelist's eye for illuminating detail..... Provocative reading." -- Publishers Weekly

"Colorful, well written, and marches along smartly, despite all the twists of the trail leading to and from Ford's Theatre." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Steers has written a detailed, scholarly account based on original sources as well as newly discovered evidence concerning the assassination." -- Virginia Quarterly Review

"A worthy book." -- Washington Post Book World

"Steers has studied the Lincoln assassination intensively and had accumulated a formidable database." -- Washington Times

"This is the book to which all Lincoln and Civil War aficionados" -- William Hanchett

"Puts many of the myths and misconceptions to rest." -- WTBF Radio

"An excellent overall view of the deed [Lincoln's assassination]." -- Choice

"Immerse yourself in this required book for anyone interested in Lincoln, presidential assassinations or the American Civil War." -- Cmdr. Youssef Abou-Enein, The Waterline

"Anyone interested in the fateful events of April 14, 1865, and the possible role in the conspiracy involving members of the Confederate government which has not been given the exposure it deserves, must read this book." -- Back Channels

"Ought to find a place on most scholars' shelves." -- Columbia (SC) State

"The most complete summary to date of the facts surrounding Lincoln's demise." -- Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

"Steers manages to make an often-told tale come alive and seem fresh in the re-telling.... There is a very small shelf of books that are absolutely essential to the understanding of Lincoln's murder and this is one of them." -- H-Net Reviews

"Presents a tale that needs to be told -- the real story behind the assassination of the 16th president." -- Kentucky Monthly

"A book that will entertain and educate readers interested in this integral part of American history." -- Louisville Voice-Tribune

"In his readable, exceedingly well-researched account of the assassination, Edward Steers shreds the myths that have encrusted the story of Booth's plot and that reveal more about what some Americans want to believe that what actually happened." -- Maryland Historical Magazine

"A carefully documented account of the conspiracy and those who took part in it." -- The Lancet

"May become the definitive volume detailing the events surrounding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln." -- Union County (KY) Advocate

"This is the book to which all Lincoln and Civil War aficionados -- indeed, all Americans interested in their history -- should turn for a lucid and up-to-date explanation of the assassination." -- William Hanchett


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813122171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813122175
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jon Hunt on March 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many years ago I read Jim Bishop's "The Day Lincoln was Shot" and for the first time learned in greater depth about John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices. Edward Steers's new book, "Blood on the Moon", goes much farther in untangling the web of men and women who took part in the Lincoln assassination. Controversy will always surround the events concerning Lincoln's murder but Mr. Steers has done a magnificent job in attempting to set the record straight.
The reader will be reminded that Booth's original plan was to kidnap Lincoln and take him across Confederate lines. It wasn't until late March, 1865 that Booth's plans changed to killing Lincoln and other officials high up in the U.S.government. Mr. Steers writes in a detailed but moving prose, carefully laying out the cases for the guilty. He particularly targets Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, whose name has been attempted to have been cleared by historical revisionists. I felt Mr. Steers's best chapter recounts Booth's escape through the Maryland countryside and his subsequent death in Virginia. The final chapter, too, regarding Lincoln's last trip home to Illinois is moving.
The book is accompanied by some good photos...one taken of Lincoln's death bed moments after his body was removed and one of Lincoln lying in state....the latter only discovered in the twentieth century after being lost for years. However it's Mr. Steers's connecting the pieces of the conspiracy puzzle that set this book apart from the rest. Nicely readable and often riveting, I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Kudos to author Steers for this comprehensive, thought-provoking volume. In reviewing the now familiar events surrounding the Lincoln assasination, Steers gives dimension to the assorted individuals involved in the tragic saga. "Blood On The Moon" is replete with fascinating and little known facts that grab the reader's attention, among them:
1. David E. Herold's anguished response on being captured;
2. George Atzerodt's half-hearted flight from justice and his odd preoccupations while waiting for the inevitable arrest;
3. Lewis Powell's surprise reunion with the Seward doorman, the reaction of both betraying the former's guilt.
Steers shows why those who believe Powell was mentally deficient might rethink the matter. As for Mrs. Surratt's complicity, defenders of the pious widow dismiss evidence against her as merely circumstantial. Perhaps, but Steers shows how the military trial and prosecution were appropriate, cautious, and reasoned -- and that even a devout, religious soul can, like her son, have sinister motives.

Here, too, we find a Dr. Mudd who may indeed have been a kindly practitioner, but who also was a racist driven by dark impulses; his ties to Booth seem undeniable.
Steers' reference to a present-day tour group stopping on the interstate by the (former) Garrett farm evoked a smile, for I myself just rode on the Booth Escape Route Tour on September 1, 2001. "Blood On The Moon" has ignited a strong desire to repeat the trek, armed now with a better appreciation for the sheer desperation of the fugitives.
Well-researched and truly illuminating, Steers book is highly recommended to the lay reader interested in the fateful events surrounding April 14, 1865.
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Format: Hardcover
This meticulously researched and reasoned book by Edward Steers both tells the story of Lincoln's Assassination and builds the case against those involved.
Much of the book reads like a detective story. Since Lincoln's death, various publicity seekers, conspiracy buffs and doubters have disputed various aspects of the story. The issues Steers deals with -- and convincingly -- are ones that have plagued the assassination story for a long time. By assembling documentary evidence from a vast array of sources, Steers builds strong cases that: Dr. Mudd was a part of the conspiracy to capture Lincoln and was a confederate of Booth -- and was expecting to help Booth escape from Washington; Mary Surratt was also a part of the conspiracy and thus justly convicted; the harebrained conspiracy theories involving Vice President Johnson or Sec. of War Stanton in the assassination are just that; The Confederate Secret service was active in supporting a kidnapping of Lincoln, knew Booth and provided him with resources; the top levels of the Confederate government (including Jefferson Davis) were aware of kidnap schemes (though no claim is made that Davis or others in the Confederate high command knew of or supported the assassination plot).
The book deftly does several things. While telling the story of the assassination plot and Confederate secret service activities, it builds the case implicating individuals found guilty by the government but whose involvement has been questioned over the years. Steers also tells of and demolishes notions that Booth really escaped and that an imposter was buried in his tomb -- notions that had some currency in the early Twentieth Century. Steers provides a thorough examination of the case of Dr.
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This is an incredibly well written book. Mr. Steers weaves a logical, thorougly understandable trail of events that lead to Lincoln's assassination, and the hunt for J. Wilkes Booth afterwards. His writing also shows how the attitudes towards Lincoln changed with his murder. Lincoln was not well loved in the North, and many there were wary of his suspension of civil liberties and his desire to franchise African-American soldiers. No wonder Booth thought he would be a hero. Mr. Steers also makes a strong case against Dr. Mudd, whom many nowadays want to paint as an innocent person caught up in post-assassination hysteria.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Steers talk, and he is a fascinating speaker as well as an excellent writer.

This book, along with "Twenty Days", belong in every Lincoln collection.
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