Eric_W's Reviews > Assassination Vacation

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
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's review
Mar 11, 09

bookshelves: history-historiography, humor
Read in March, 2009

This is a book my wife and I listened to as we drive to doctor appointments, visited children, etc., so it took us a while to get through it completely. That is not to denigrate the book, which is wonderfully entertaining and educational. Ben (GR) and I have exchanged emails recently about whether listening to an audiobook can be considered "reading." This is a case where I think the book is actually better listened to since it's read by the author who has such a gravely and droll way of reading. It's delightful.

Vowell's description of staying in a bed and breakfast is priceless. It mirrors a stay my wife and I had where the other couple at breakfast bragged about the shooting club and contests at her son's school. Good liberals that we are, my wife asked who paid for all of that? "Why, the NRA, of course," was the reply. We couldn't wait to stuff down the sausages and get the hell out of there. Next bed and breakfast we go to I intend to get a certified letter attesting to the political affiliation of all the guests. Then, of course, there's always Super-8 as an alternative.

Lots of fascinating detail. I had no idea that the Virginia motto, sic semper tyrannis was yelled by John Wilkes Booth as he leeaped on to the stage after shooting Lincoln and that motto was worn on T-shirts by supporters of Timothy McVeigh along with assorted Confederate flags and symbols.

One learns a great deal too. For example, Dr. Samuel Mudd (a distant relative of Roger Mudd, the broadcaster) was convicted of being one of the conspirators who assassinated Lincoln. Vowell delves deeply and fascinatingly into the sequence of events, remarks on his heroic behavior during the malaria epidemic at the Fort (one of the largest ever built, we learn, after a hysterical, stomach-heaving boat journey) on the Dry Tortugas including efforts by his grandson to completely clear his name. I cannot recommend this book enough - but listen to it.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Ben (last edited Mar 11, 2009 12:08PM) (new)

Ben Eric, admittedly, this review first caught my attention because I'm in it; I then continued reading it because it's interesting. Then you got to Samuel Mudd-- and get this: I'm friends with one of his relatives. I grew up in La Plata, MD very close to the Dr. Mudd house. The Mudd family is very large and scattered about Charles County. I've been on their farm too, which is huge with lakes full of fish, and a few houses on the land. The father of one of my best friends is also a lawyer at the firm Mudd, Mudd, and Fitzgerald -- this friends dad is the Fitzgerald, but you get the idea: lot's of Mudds in the area.

The locals say that Charles County is famous for 2 things: Dr. Mudd and Good Charlotte (the band).

I greatly enjoyed reading this review (for the audio elements brought up, as well).

message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny How funny! I knew that Booth had yelled sic semper tyrannis, but had no idea that it was Virginia's motto. A poor day on GR when you don't learn at least one surprising fact :)

Lynn Pribus Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon mystery FLASHBACK about Dry Tortugas is unusual for her in that it does history "live" at the same time Anna pursues a contemporary murderer.

The flashback part deals with the self-same Samuel Mudd discussed in ASSASSINATION VACATION.

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