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The Book of Assassins: A Biographical Dictionary from Ancient Times to the Present 1st Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471158912
ISBN-10: 0471158917
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Editorial Reviews

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There have been hundreds of books on famous assassinations, but nearly all have focused on the victims rather than the assassins themselves. Until now, there has never been a single source for the life stories of assassins throughout history: the infamous and the overlooked, the madmen and the zealots, the incompetent and the ruthlessly efficient, those who failed and those who succeeded in their dark tasks. The Book of Assassins is an enlightening and entertaining reference book for true-crime fans, historians, and anyone interested in those who committed–or attempted to commit–some of the world’s most heinous crimes.

We all know the names Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth. But who remembers Max Hödel, considered the least successful assassin in history? What wealthy aristocrat killed Rasputin and lived on until 1967? How many different people attempted to assassinate Hitler–or Queen Victoria? Which modern world leader holds the record for surviving assassins’ plots–and who were the plotters? How did Renaissance noblewoman Caterina Sforza attempt to infect a pope with the plague?

With answers to these questions and more, The Book of Assassins is packed with interesting trivia and little-known facts, as well as an alphabetical index of victims. In an engaging essay, author George Fetherling explains the five types of assassins–power seekers (Cesare Borgia), mercenaries (Bulgarian hitman Vlada the Chauffeur), ideologues (Gavrilo Princip), celebrity stalkers (Mark David Chapman), and revenge-seekers (Valerie Solanas, who shot Andy Warhol)–that have appeared throughout history.

Insightful, well-researched, and highly readable, The Book of Assassins is not only a compendium of crimes but also an absorbing chronicle of the obscure and notorious characters who have irrevocably altered the course of human events, often in ways they never intended.

About the Author

GEORGE FETHERLING is the author of fifty books. A former literary editor at the Toronto Star and a regular columnist and book reviewer, Mr. Fetherling lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 391 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1st edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471158917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471158912
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,720,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Not many books in a dictionary format are enjoyable to read. For me, this book was one of those few, wonderful exceptions. The information is concise, and most entries list references and other source material for those who are interested to persue. I have to rate it lower than I would like (3 instead of 4) just due to the numerous typos that exist throughout. Hopefully these will be cleaned up in another revision, as nonfiction works are hurt more by these grammatical errors than fiction items.
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Format: Hardcover
Useful for unbiased details

Fetherling, George, 2001 Kaplan, Fanny. The Book of Assassins: A Biographical Dictionary from Ancient Times to the Present. Wiley ISBN-10 0471158917; ISBN-13: 978-0471158912

This book is most useful for its historic details, for instance if one wants to recall "which Somoza was killed where" this is a handy place to find out. Fetherling is careful to thread his way through the morass that surrounds President Kennedy's death exploring the most likely possibilities including, as so many authors omit, that Fidel Castro may well have been involved. The reason for this review was I needed such a handbook to thread my way through a Cuban government sanctioned volume trying to distinguish probable fact from propaganda. In the Cuban book, while discussing the life of Stalinist master spy "Fabio Grobart" (the Castro's brothers' "maestro") the author had maligned Fanny Kaplan the woman who shot, and eventually, long after she was executed, killed Lenin. The Fetherling book provided me with a carefully researched account of very troubled Fanny, and thus by its balanced presentation of fact, provided me with a most apt illustration of Cuban government propaganda to use in my manuscript in progress "Narrations of War in Cuba."
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Format: Hardcover
A reference guide to assassins is an excellent idea, but this work does not live up to what can be a very intriguing book. It is printed on cheap production paper with no illustrations. Most of the entries are one page. A plus is that there are many obscure figures included that most readers have never heard of, but there is scant info on them whereas Lee Harvey Oswald, about whom most people already know plenty, has 9 pages. One other plus is that each entry includes a list of further references so, if readers are intrigued by a specific assassin's tale, they have at least one source to go to for more info. There is also an index on the victims in the back. Shop around for the best deal on this book and it will probably be worth it for anyone interested in assassins.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not sure what I expected, but did not hold my interest.
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