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The Day Lincoln Was Shot Hardcover – August 22, 1984

4.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Gripping, minute-by-minute account of the day President Lincoln was struck down by an assassin's bullet in Ford's Theatre. Parallels of the activities of the President with those of his assassin in an unforgettable, suspense- filled chronicle. 320 pages.

From the Back Cover

At seven o'clock on the morning of April 14, 1865, President Lincoln came out of his bedroom, nodded to the night guard, and started down the hall to his office. At 7:22 the following morning Surgeon General Barnes pressed silver coins to his eyelids.

The president's day was, as usual, crammed with meetings and appointments, but he was probably no busier than John Wilkes Booth, the man who would stand behind him at Ford's Theatre that evening. Although the plan had been long in the making, the time and place were not set until eleven that morning.

The Day Lincoln Was Shot chronicles the movements of these two men minute by minute until the almost unbearable suspense is shattered with a single gunshot and a leap to the stage. From a thousand bits and scraps of information, Jim Bishop has fashioned an unforgettable tale of tragedy, more gripping than fiction, more alive than any newspaper account.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwich House; Reprint edition (August 22, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517446499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517446492
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Day Lincoln Was Shot is an old book. It was available when I was in grade school, but although I entertained an interest in history at the time, I was not yet into US history. A friend recently reintroduced me to the book, since he knew I had developed an interest in the period. I must say, I am glad he did. The book is strikingly well written and very well researched. Jim Bishop was not a professionally trained historian, but he was a writer with an interest in history and a methodical manner of approaching his subject. According to the introduction, the author kept notebooks on each of the major participants of the drama of Lincoln's last days, adding to them whenever scraps of information came his way. When he finally put pen to paper he had such voluminous data in anecdotal form, that he was able to untangle events in a way that no one before him had been able to do. Although he puts speeches into the mouths of his subjects, this dialogue is reconstructed from information from diaries, printed speeches, trail transcripts, and other documents from the time, that give credence to the author's construction.
The book is written on an hour by hour basis, departing from this format only to add a chapter on events that immediately preceded the fateful day. The author follows the activities of each of the major participants, describing their behavior, interactions, and words, creating a drama every bit as riveting as a novel or play.
I had read a biography of John Wilkes Booth that had raised the possibility of a conspiracy by Northerners to remove Lincoln and his more conciliatory approach to reconstruction by using a misguided Booth as a pawn in their political designs. At that time, I felt that there was a distinct possibility that this might have been the case.
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Format: Hardcover
Jim Bishop is an outstanding writer and his format using hours of the day (i.e., 7:00 am, 8:00 am, etc.) took you to where everyone was at that time--Lincoln, Booth, Johnson, The Surratts etc,. His research was in-depth and made you never question its validity. I lived in the Washington D.C. area for eight years and have visited the Ford Theater and the Boarding House Lincoln died in--after reading the book--I go visit those places everytime I return--and picture Jim Bishops clear explanation of events. After reading this book and visiting the Ford Theater--you will envision the actor John Booth jumping from the balcony and tripping as he took his last step on a theater stage. Not only will you sit in the low lighted rooms and learn of the intricate details behind the assassination--but will also learn many facts about the city of Washington D.C. during that period of time.
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Format: Hardcover
Bishop writes a good book. The story is well researched, full of fascinating details, fast paced and never dull. Although you know the ending, the tale is constructed in a way that has you hoping someone will make a move in the story to avoid the awful destiny that must unfold.
My only quibble is that the author takes a lot of license with what the various players were thinking. This certainly helps flesh out the story but does the history a minor disservice by going beyond what can be known with certainty. Still, enjoyanble and recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I was 10 years old when I read this some 40 years ago. I loved it then. Jim Bishop is such a good writer and can make reading history very entertaining. However when I picked the book up recently and read it again I realized how much historical fact was sacrificed. There are errors sprinkled throughout the work. What is more troubling though ---as re-reading the book as an adult ---if that I now understand that much of the wealth of detail as far as who said or did what when is generally speaking-----"made up stuff". I know some licence has to be given the author in a work such as this but much of the action is over-dramatized and inaccurate.

One historical detail that is handled badly in particular is Bishop's description of Dr. Mudd as a "conservative southerner" who would not have aided Booth had he know who Booth was.......I know this is a point of controversy among some but I think even many Mudd's defenders today would conceed that with all of the evidence weighed in that Mudd knew Booth the second he opened the door.
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Format: Hardcover
A few months ago, my grandmother said she had too many books and to come grab 'em up. So I went. And grabbed. A lot. Old MAD magazines and books nonfiction and fiction, of all genres. I've read six of these books so far and rated some on Goodreads (I particularly liked "Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair"). But this is my first written review of a book from that stash. "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" by Jim Bishop touched me in a way that is hard to explain. It probably has something to do with a president cut down in the middle of his glory. This is an old edition, by the way, copyright 1955 and with an 85-cent price on the front.

I recommend this book to anyone. You don't like history? You don't like politics? No matter. This book transcends history and politics (subjects I love, by the way). This book has it all: suspense, so much so that when the moment of the assassination arrived, I had to distract myself and then squirm a few minutes before getting on with it - I did not want Lincoln to die! - murder, conspiracy, colorful characters, accidents of history, and yes, even romance. Okay, maybe not romance per se, but the bond between Lincoln and his wife was touching, even if she was a bit (maybe more than a bit!) of a tyrant.

I would love to give this book five stars, but alas, it gets four. The postscript needed to deal more with John Wilkes Booth's capture. Sure, yes, the book is set from 7 a.m. to about 7:30 a.m. the next day (basically Lincoln's last 24 hours), and Booth was not captured in that time frame. But a one-sentence postscript after going through agonizing pages of his plotting and his getaway was not satisfying. The postscript where Booth was concerned should have been at least two pages.
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