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The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  796 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, The Assassin’s Accomplice tells the gripping story of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln through experience of its only female participant.Confederate sympathizer Mary Surratt ran a boarding house in Washington, and the depth of her complicity in the murder of President Lincoln has been debated since she was arrested on ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Basic Books (first published June 3rd 2008)
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Orsolya
Mar 11, 2012 Orsolya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though John Wilkes Booth is known for assassinating President Abraham Lincoln; there were other individuals involved in the plot. One of those conspirators was Mary Surratt, who owned the boardinghouse where many of the plans were made and was also the mother of another plotter. Kate Clifford Larson clears up the muck and spotlights Surratt’s role in “The Assassin’s Accomplice”.

Larson opens “The Assassin’s Accomplice” with a brief (very brief) introduction of Surratt’s childhood and young a
...more
Clif Hostetler
Oct 28, 2012 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The author grabbed my attention at the very beginning by admitting that when she started the research for this book she believed that Mary Surratt was not involved in the assassination. The author must have been exposed of the same conventional wisdom that I’ve picked up over the years--that Mary Surratt was the innocent boarding house owner who had the misfortune of renting boarding space to the conspirators.

The author goes on to state that over the course of reading court documents as well as
...more
Kevin Topolovec
Mar 02, 2017 Kevin Topolovec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were too many Lincoln assassination conspirators to keep track of. At least now I can remember Sam Arnold's name, instead of saying "Michael O'Laughlen and the other one" in my head.
Sanjida Kamal
I really do think history is boring. I have never been in a history class that even remotely interested me in the subject. I mean, history is history, basically teachers have made thousands of years of the past seem uninteresting, dull and maybe even insignificant in that respect. But, after reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I've begun to think that history can be quite exciting. That is what compelled me to read this book. All the holes in the story, the conspiracies behind it all are wh ...more
Jeffrey Williams
Mar 15, 2011 Jeffrey Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-war
Dr. Larson did a magnificent job in describing the trial of Mary Surratt, the appeals process and the subsequent hanging of Surratt and three other conspirators. Unfortunately, she asked way too many questions that with a little more cursory research, she would have found the answers, especially when discussing the Booth conspiracy. Some of those questions were answered in some of the very sources that she cites, which I had previously read, and a couple of minor facts, she even got wrong. (Main ...more
Kerrie
Excellent recount of Booth's aborted kidnapping plot and the assassination that took its place. Larson keeps it to the major players of the plot, and does an admirable job of re-establishing Mary Surratt's role in the conspiracy that over a century of Confederate-sympathizing whitewashing has tried to erase. I don't believe there's any question she was guilty - she may have been "innocent" in that she didn't pull the trigger herself, but that's about it.

The final chapters which relied heavily on
...more
Chris
Crossposted at Booklikes


If you are planning a trip to Washington DC, you should include on your list of things to see and do Ford’s Theatre and the Peterson House. Both places have been recently remodeled and updated. The stack of Lincoln related books are impressive. Undoubtedly this one is there.


I’m not sure how close the movie follows this book, but this book makes an excellent case for Mary Surratt’s guilt as well as looking at the reasons for her actions as well as the trial and press trea
...more
Katherine Addison
There are many phrases I can think of to describe John Wilkes Booth's plot against President Lincoln, but "madcap scheme" (118) is not one of them.

Short version: I recommend American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies instead.

Slightly longer version: Despite its claims to the contrary, this book has no new evidence or insights to offer, unless by "insight," you mean unsupported speculation about what various people must have been feeling during interrogations or while giving
...more
Dick
Dec 20, 2011 Dick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have spent a lot of time studying Lincoln over my 73 years which of course includes his murder at the hands of the coward J W Booth. One thing that is important to remember is that this author started out believing that Mary Surratt was not involved in the assassination. But over the course of reading court documents as well as statements by the witnesses, she came to a very different conclusion. Kate Larson does an excellent job of connecting the dots with regard to the conspirators from well ...more
Karen
Jan 08, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well written, interesting history of Mary Surratt who was the first woman hanged in the United States. The book illustrates the conflicting sentiments of the public prior to her hanging and following. Prior to her execution, the public vilified Mrs. Surratt as one of the co-conspirators of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination as evidence of her complicity was presented at court. However, public sentiment turned drastically as society was appalled at the execution of a woman. The book also ...more
Troy Soos
Mary Surratt’s role in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln is certainly an interesting subject—and in the hands of a different author might have resulted in a compelling book. Larson makes factual blunders that diminish her overall credibility (one example: she identifies John C. Breckinridge as Vice President of the Confederacy although that office was actually held by Alexander Stephens). Larson’s writing is as sloppy as her history; it is often disjointed and repetitive. This book s ...more
Marley
Aug 10, 2009 Marley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Accept for a short period in the 1990s, I always believed that Mary Surratt was a guilty party in the Lincoln conspiracy. I was right! But I knew next to nothing about Surratt outside of the last year of her life and her H Street boarding house. Surratt was educated (for the time) a devout Catholic, a businesswoman, a minor slave holder, and an abused wife. She suffered porverty at times due to her husband's alcholism, but mostly maintained a respectable middle class life. She was devoted to the ...more
Dominique
Jun 22, 2008 Dominique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To anyone interested in the assassination of Lincoln
Recommended to Dominique by: Spotted it at the bookstore
Shelves: history, non-fiction
In the Assassin's Acomplice, the author recounts the possible involvement of Mary Surratt in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The author admits that when she began researching this book, she assumed as many others did that Mary was innocent and that Surratt's hanging was a miscarriage of justice.

Mary Surratt was a Confederate sympathizer during the Civil War. She moved her family from what is now Clinton, MD to Washington where they lived in a home her deceased husband had bought years earl
...more
Jan C
Jan 02, 2009 Jan C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
Interesting that I happened to finish this book on the anniversary of the day of Lincon's assassination.

The author lets us know at the beginning that she went into the project, like many others, believing in Mary's innocence. That she was, essentially, an innocent bystander. Not so. And she presents her case.

I have to say that I, too, wondered just how much involvement she had.

First off, like many Marylanders of the time (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt now), were Southern in outlook. S
...more
John
Sep 30, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book that seals the fate of Mary Surratt as a co-conspirator with John Wilkes Booth in Lincoln's assassination. Surratt was fervently pro South, pro slavery, anti North and anti Lincoln. Her historical role has most often been retold by pro-southern sympathizers and it is through these sentiments that her role has been redefined and distorted. Their conclusions were that an innocent woman was put to death by a vengeful and improper government judicial process.

The author's orig
...more
Faith Oglesby
May 31, 2015 Faith Oglesby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great! It took me longer to read than usual; but I had other commitments which included undergoing surgery, etc., but I kept at it despite also taking online college courses. Kate Larson has an intriguing choice of writing that pulls a reader into each storyline that she includes in this book! Though I have read stories in history books and other historical books about Abraham Lincoln, Kate Larson's historical tidbits added dimension to the historical facts surrounding Lincoln's mu ...more
Bill F.
Larson's work is an excellent example of scholarship wedded to good narrative. Although the book is a little light on the political and social reasoning behind Surratt's decision to aid Booth, it is a fascinating blow-by-blow account. Anyone doubting Surratt's complicity in the crime - an issue which began to fester immediately after her hanging - will come away from Larson's work reasonably certain as to her guilt.

The detail in the book is extraordinary. For example, Larson has tracked down the
...more
Damon Lively
Apr 15, 2014 Damon Lively rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Assassins Accomplice is a nice addition to the narrative on the Lincoln Assassination. This is a book which should be read in addition (preferably after) other more detailed accounts on the Lincoln assassination itself. Kate Larson does a nice job of adding facts and components around the main event. She focuses more on Mary Surratt and activities prior to Lincolns’ death (including history on Mary) and then the interrogation and trial component afterwards. The nice thing about this book is it p ...more
Alicia
A very focused nonfiction of the life of Mary Surratt, convicted and hanged-- the first woman-- for her connection with the assassination of the president, Abraham Lincoln. There are still some debates, lack of records, but also eyewitness accounts and histories that even after careful consideration leave a little wiggle room, but not much in the accusation and punishment of this woman who created the nest that harbored the eggs that bore this plot (and the numerous plots beforehand to kidnap hi ...more
Lisa
Sep 30, 2008 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I rated this book a little low, but I'm very glad that I read it! I read quite a few books about Lincoln and the Civil War era and I was also under the impression that history judged that Mary Suratt got a bum deal---a stooge in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe history forgot to look at the evidence. After reading this book, I'm not quite sure where/how the disconnect came about. By these accounts, Mary was strident in her pro-Confederacy views and didn't take many pains to hide it. Her ...more
Baxter
Mar 31, 2010 Baxter rated it liked it
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Melissa Namba
I thought when I picked up this book that I would be fascinated with the story of Mary Surratt. Instead, I find myself a lot more interested in one of her co-conspirators, Payne. He seems to be the most multi-faceted and human of the group.

Some reviewers have complained about historical inaccuracies in the story, but they didn't bother me at all, since the backbone of the story really is that in a courtroom full of many different realities, there is not one reality which prevails (especially whe
...more
Val Sanford
In-depth exploration of the culpability of Mart Surratt, the first woman executed by the United States. I knew little about the actual plot to kill President Lincoln before reading this; the depth of detail and knowledge brought forth was fascinating-- so many people were involved and all anchored out of the Surratt boarding house.

The confederate sympathies were so deep and full of pure hatred, a hatred I don't think we can really understand today even in our own divided nation. To be so driven
...more
Lori Shafer
Aug 20, 2016 Lori Shafer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I began reading Assassins Accomplice, I thought I knew quite a bit about the assassination of President Lincoln. I have read several books and seen countless documentaries. But Larson's book showed me clearly I knew little.
Mary Surratt is often described as an innocent bystander or the mastermind. No one seems quite clear on her role in the conspiracy to kill Lincoln. Larson, using first hand accounts and court documents, succeeds in pulling back the veil that has hidden Surratt for so long
...more
Pylgrym
Jun 04, 2011 Pylgrym rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author began research thinking Surratt innocent but changed her mind. Didn't really make a sound enough case. Certainly relevant today because of the battle over whether Surratt should be tried by a military tribunal or a civil court. Further proof that as Faulkner observed, "The past isn't dead.." She was definitely a Confederate sympathizer and ran a boarding house full of the same in Washington. However, it seems unlikely that she had any real knowledge of the assassination plans since th ...more
Brian T
Jan 08, 2013 Brian T rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not seen the movie "The Accomplice" yet, but I intend to. As a person that is fascinated with the History of the Civil War, I had not read a book that was principally dedicated to the plot to kidnap Lincoln which turned into the plot to kill him, along with the Vice President and the Secretary of State. Mary Surratt was long-thought to have been "in the dark" regarding these plots that were nurtured along within the walls of her boarding house. However, the evidence at the time of the tri ...more
Ginny
Apr 21, 2016 Ginny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting historical novel about Mary Surratt and the role she played in the John Wilkes Booth's conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln. It is a bit dry at times with the facts of the presentation, the author's final paragraph gives a good summation to the evidence. This quote helps the reader put it all in prospective " Mary Surratt did indeed keep "the nest that hatched the egg" She could have chosen not to help Booth, but she decided to assist him in whatever way she could. In providing a wa ...more
Alan Mauerman
I enjoy reading almost anything about the Civil War. The role of Mary Surratt in the murder of President Lincoln was one that I had not read much about. I was not aware that defendants were not allowed to be on the witness stand but they could give testimony to their lawyers. Why Mary Surratt did not help her lawyers is a mystery. I personally think she was guilty. I wonder how this would play out in today's media?
This was a good book but there were a lot of characters to keep track of which mad
...more
Trish
May 22, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and well-written. I picked up this book after seeing "The Conspirator", which didn't focus so much on Surratt's guilt or innocence, but on her biased trial, the guilty verdict being a foregone conclusion before she entered the courtroom. This book tells the whole story of Surratt's life and her interaction with John Wilkes Booth. This is the first book I've read about Mary Surratt, and Larson posits clearly that Surratt was fully aware of Booth's plan to at first kidnap, then assassi ...more
Kate  K. F.
Dec 11, 2012 Kate K. F. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book due to the movie tie-in and ended up pleasantly surprised. It covers the lead up to Lincoln's assassination and the complex world of Southern Maryland and Washington D.C. before, during and just after the Civil War. The trial of the conspirators provides a gateway into the minds of those who worked against the Union and shows how painful the Civil War was for all Americans.

A book that moves along quickly without cutting out any details and presents a thoughtful look at what
...more
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