Heather's Reviews > Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly
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's review
Oct 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 19th-c, arc, audio-book, civil-war, non-fiction, president, united-states
Read from October 21 to 27, 2011 — I own a copy

I have never been a person who enjoyed reading about the Civil War or really imagined reading a book about Lincoln, however when I saw this audiobook I figured that I would take a chance on it. I didn’t know what to expect going into reading it – it is co-authored by Bill O’Reilly and I know that he is known for his impassioned political commentary and I’m not typically his biggest fan. I was quite surprised by how well written this book was and even more so by how much I enjoyed it.

The book, although a work of non-fiction, reads like a thriller (a style of writing that I do enjoy). While sticking to the facts of what happened in the 14 days prior to Lincoln’s assassination and the roundup of the suspects afterward the narrative style sucks you in. There is not a moment where it feels like you are reading a stuffy, dry history text. This would be a great book for someone who doesn’t read history because of the tendency to be tedious. I really didn’t want to put the book down.

All of the well known historical characters come to vivid life in the pages of this book. They become real – not just historical caricatures of good and bad. Through the writing you “get” why John Wilkes Booth did what he did, you feel the resignation of Lincoln that he will at some point be assassinated, and you get the general frenzy of Unionists and Confederates as the great Civil War draws to a close. Booth and Lincoln are given fair treatments in this book. Contrary to my concerns, the political views of the author/narrator do not affect the text.

The only part that I thought was a little overdone was the portion of the book dedicated to the last few days of the Civil War and the movements of Generals Grant and Lee. This constituted approximately ¼ of the book and I felt like it took away from the “killing Lincoln” feel. I understand that it was used to set up what was to come, but maybe a little less would have ultimately been more. It still kept me riveted though.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this book. If you are unfamiliar with the time period and want something to whet your appetite this would be the book. From that point you can delve into deeper, heavier fare.

The book is narrated by the author, Bill O’Reilly, who I thought was an excellent choice for narrator. His tone of voice lent to the feel of the thriller as well as to a news commentary of the days. It sort of felt like you were hearing an account of what happened. He had great pacing and enunciation which really contributed to the overall feel.

This book was received for review from the publisher - I was not compensated for my opinions and the above is my honest review.
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