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Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford's Theatre

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April 14, 1865. A famous actor pulls a trigger in the presidential balcony, leaps to the stage and escapes, as the president lies fatally wounded. In the panic that follows, forty-six terrified people scatter in and around Ford’s Theater as soldiers take up stations by the doors and the audience surges into the streets chanting, “Burn the place down!”

This is the untold story of Lincoln’s assassination: the forty-six stage hands, actors, and theater workers on hand for the bewildering events in the theater that night, and what each of them witnessed in the chaos-streaked hours before John Wilkes Booth was discovered to be the culprit. In Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination, historian Thomas A. Bogar delves into previously unpublished sources to tell the story of Lincoln’s assassination from behind the curtain, and the tale is shocking. Police rounded up and arrested dozens of innocent people, wasting time that allowed the real culprit to get further away. Some closely connected to John Wilkes Booth were not even questioned, while innocent witnesses were relentlessly pursued. Booth was more connected with the production than you might have known—learn how he knew each member of the cast and crew, which was a hotbed of secessionist resentment. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination also tells the story of what happened to each of these witnesses to history, after the investigation was over—how each one lived their lives after seeing one of America’s greatest presidents shot dead without warning.

Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination is an exquisitely detailed look at this famous event from an entirely new angle. It is must reading for anyone fascinated with the saga of Lincoln’s life and the Civil War era.

377 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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Thomas A. Bogar

7 books4 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for Bill.
199 reviews47 followers
December 6, 2022
From the “just when you think you’ve read everything about…” department comes this unique look at the Lincoln assassination, from the perspective of those on stage and backstage at Ford’s Theatre when it happened. 

Many recognize the name of Laura Keene, the headline performer and usually the only cast member who’s remembered at all today. But this book tells the stories of all 46 actors, managers and stagehands whose lives were impacted and forever changed by their proximity to such a tragic event. And far from being mere witnesses to a crime, many of these individuals came under suspicion themselves because of their prior interactions with John Wilkes Booth, or simply for having found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Bogar is a theater history professor, so he provides plenty of interesting background and context about mid-19th century acting, stagecraft, the theater business and the pervasiveness of southern sympathizers among the Ford’s Theatre cast and crew. Leading up to the assassination, we get to know theater owner John Ford, the resident stock company of performers and crew members who supported visiting stars like Keene, and their every action as they rehearsed that day and performed that night.

John Wilkes Booth’s fatal attack on President Lincoln during that fateful performance of Our American Cousin immediately raised suspicions about who helped him plot his crime, carry it out, and escape after committing it. One supporting actress is quoted as saying that "everybody who even knew Booth was suspected, and to admit being a member of the cast at that performance was to court arrest". 

And many among the cast and crew were indeed arrested, imprisoned, questioned, released, and arrested again - caught up in the government’s far-reaching dragnet as investigators tried to find the killer and identify his accomplices. 

One of the book’s main focuses ends up being the case of carpenter/stagehand Ned Spangler, the only member of the cast or crew who ended up being arrested, charged, tried and convicted. The case against him largely hinged on whether he deliberately kept the wings of the stage clear in order to provide a post-assassination escape path for Booth. Investigators even went so far as to order the cast and crew to stage an eerie re-enactment of the play a week after Lincoln’s murder to an empty house, in order to gauge precisely what was happening backstage when the assassination occurred.

The arguments and the evidence presented in Spangler’s trial are recounted thoroughly enough, but this section can drag a little, as it gets repetitive and exhaustive after a while trying to establish whether the wings were deliberately made clear or just happened to be so. The specific concentration on the case against Spangler also exposed something of a weakness in the book’s narrow focus on Ford’s Theatre employees, as it precluded the ability to provide any larger context about the assassination investigation. Spangler’s better-known co-defendants like Samuel Mudd and Mary Surratt are only mentioned in passing, for example. So without prior knowledge of the case, you might come away thinking Spangler was the most notable, if not the sole, defendant. And the reader gets no sense of just how far-reaching and overzealous the government’s aim to smoke out accomplices was - who else besides Ford’s Theatre employees were caught up in the dragnet? How many other innocents were arrested, charged or tried - and how many of the not-so-innocent were never held to account at all? 

Those who were not accused had to find a way to go on with their lives and careers. Backstage crew members were largely able to proceed in relative anonymity. But many of the actors struggled to move on, fearing “guilt by association” for the rest of their lives. Keene, once a savvy theater manager and businesswoman in addition to an actor, found her star power had faded and died young. Her legacy today, Bogar observes, stems “more from her association with the assassination than from her professional accomplishments or her forceful personality." John Ford successfully petitioned for Spangler’s pardon, got Booth’s body released to his family, and ultimately sold the theater to the government. And Our American Cousin continued to be staged in theaters across the country, "holding a morbid fascination for theatregoers."

On several occasions, Bogar offers a fascinating fact but treats it as something of a throwaway line. He mentions that theatrical productions at Ford’s Theatre resumed a century after the assassination, but doesn’t offer any details as to how or why. He mentions the 1920’s sale of assassination relics, including the chair on which Lincoln sat when he was killed, to Henry Ford, but offers no further details about that either. I had a cursory awareness of both of these facts, but Bogar’s casual, terse mentions made me wonder why he chose to touch on them at all if he wasn’t going to elaborate. There are even some interesting anecdotes tucked away in the end notes that might have been better incorporated into the narrative, such as actor Harry Hawk’s lifelong contention that he never finished his famous “sockdologizing old mantrap” line before the fatal shot was fired, which would disprove the longstanding legend that Booth deliberately timed his shot, hoping the noise would be obscured by the audience reaction to a known laugh line. 

The book peters out a bit at the end, with a chronological list of “whatever happened to” the dozens of cast and crew members, spread out over several chapters and ordered by their eventual date of death, with no real summary or conclusion or final thoughts. So the book can drag in parts, and doesn’t necessarily pack a punch at the end. But overall, it’s a unique way to tell a familiar story, showing that Lincoln wasn’t the only victim that fateful night.
Profile Image for Jason.
33 reviews62 followers
August 30, 2014
I saw this book in a local Barnes and Noble before Christmas. Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by the premise of it. I was a Theater major in college and I tend to view myself as somewhat of a "Presidential Historian" so naturally I found this book to be a great fit for me. Having read volumes on April 14, 1865 and visiting the actual Ford's Theater a few times, I was totally immersed within this work. Every American knows the story of the actual murder and cast of characters that carried out (somewhat) John Wilkes Booth's nefarious plot, but not many (if any at all) know the stories of those men and women tasked with actually putting on the show that fated Good Friday evening when the nation seemed to just be regaining its footing after four brutal years of a Civil War that had ripped apart and brought a nation asunder.

The author tells a story of a various melange of actors and stagehands and tries to put the reader backstage in Ford's Theater throughout the years of the Civil War. That Good Friday performance is the penultimate moment of the story and the author spares nothing in recounting it for his readers (it takes up three whole chapters). What I found peculiar was how (it seemed) the whole company of actors were basically pro-Confederacy, The aftermath of the assassination itself was (to me) even creepier than the actual deed itself. Just hours after Lincoln's body was moved to the Peterson House directly across the street various people called for someone to just torch the entire building itself. It's interesting to note that the building we now know as Ford's Theater today was/is actually the second version of the theater (the original having been destroyed by fire sometime in the 1850's). Another oddity I was surprised by was the fact that the theater only had two (2) seasons in total. After April 14, 1865 the theater was never used again, eventually becoming a records storehouse for the rebel armies.

The entire murder investigation, I think was done in somewhat of a slapdash manner. The Washington police simply arrested various persons employed at the theater because they actually knew Booth, when actually only two or three did. The extent of where the original investigation went to, I still can't fully wrap my head about it. For me, the saddest part of this story was just what became of those actors and actresses who "trod the boards" that Friday night. Something that only took thirty seconds to accomplish ended up coloring the lives of all those inside Ford's Theater on the first day of Easter weekend, 1865 whether they wanted it to or not.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book seeing it as a very unique way to look at an event that so many of us are familiar with. Now if someone would just write about what it was like to be in the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963....

Profile Image for David Kent.
Author 6 books127 followers
October 31, 2016
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is perhaps one of the most researched events in history. Nevertheless, Thomas A. Bogar has found a unique perspective and thus provides important new insights. A professor of theater history, Bogar combines his specialist's knowledge with undeniably deep research to bring out the stories of the actors and stagehands at Ford's Theatre on that fateful night.

Other examinations of the assassination have noted the ancillary roles of the lead actors in "Our American Cousin," from Harry Hawk's "sockdologizing old man-trap" line to Laura Keene resting Lincoln's bloody head on her lap. Bogar goes deeper. He presents the lives of all the actors in the production as well as those of the generally ignored stagehands. He follows their actions during the course of the day upon hearing Lincoln would attend the play that night, through their rehearsals, and the preparation of the President's box. He continues by stepping through the play itself, scene by scene, until we reach the dramatic gunshot, leap to the stage, and getaway.

Because they have been analyzed in detail by many others, Bogar treats the usual assassination events peripherally, noting key points mainly as they fit the drama unfolding behind the stage. We follow the interrogation of most of the stagehands - and the curious lack of interrogation of many of the actual actors - as the picture of involvement slowly becomes clearer. Or perhaps muddier. Some witnesses seem prone to pointing the finger at others, most notably Ned Spangler, the carpenter and scene-shifter who becomes the focus of the investigation within the theater. We also see the intricate involvement of owner John Ford and his brothers, both their own interrogations and Ford's attempts to help Spangler, the man he feels is innocent yet unjustly targeted. We join Spangler (and the other three sentenced) at Fort Jefferson

In his final chapter, the author poses questions often used by others to speculate on various conspiracies around the assassination. Why did Stanton move so quickly to arrest and interrogate the backstage workers while largely overlooking actors who might have more insight into fellow actor Booth's actions? Why was actor and Booth buddy John Mathews not called to testify (after all, Booth had given him his confession letter to post, which Mathews destroyed)? How much did the "secesh" sentiment of the theater contribute to any conspiracy? Was witness Rittenbach somehow a government plant backstage? Bogar makes no attempt to answer these questions, nor does he suggest any particular conspiracy, but the very mention of them inherently suggests there is a lot we still don't know about how this event came about.

In following the lives of the actors and stagehands, both before and after the assassination, Bogar has done extensive research of the public record, the records of the military tribunal assassination trial (and those two years later from John Surratt's civilian trial), and newspapers from across the eastern United States. He provides many pages of notes of his sources and a long bibliography of the books, newspapers, dissertations, and manuscript collections he consulted.

The writing style itself is easy to read and organized logically. I must admit it wasn't the most exciting read, in part because the people involved were not particularly accomplished or noteworthy other than their roles in this historic tragedy. That said, I gained an interesting perspective on the people so closely, if not intentionally, involved with the assassination. This book is a worthy read to fill in our understanding of a little discussed group of people associated with one of the most talked about events in history.
Profile Image for Katie.
39 reviews13 followers
March 11, 2014
I had not even heard about this book. I came about it by chance at the library and I immediately decided to check it out the moment I saw it. Part Lincoln assassination. Part trial of the conspirators. Part theatre history. I personally found this to be an interesting idea for a way to tell the story. While you may here/read stories here and there about the perspective of some of the members of the cast/crew at Ford's Theatre that evening, this is the first time that I can ever recall reading their experiences at one time. By going over the rehearsal of "Our American Cousin", it almost gives you a clearer description of the moments leading up to, the exact moments of and the moments following the assassination. Having an interest in the Lincoln assassination, this is a pretty good book. Not a lot of new facts if you know enough about the assassination already. But I also have a big interest in theatre history. And I really appreciated that angle of the book. I liked learning more about the cast and crew and the outcome of their lives.

I think I would be safe recommending this book to theatre fans. I would definitely recommend it to people interested in the assassination for a different way to read about the events that took place during that time.
15 reviews
January 1, 2023
Well researched book and from an interesting viewpoint on the Assassination of Lincoln.

The style is written as a narrative/here's what happened style. The court session sections were difficult for me to read and keep reading because of all the matter of fact style he used. But that is just me.

I did enjoy the book and i appreciate all the research the author had to do and then write it into this book.

Through this book I learned some Interesting facts I did not know before. I recommend it to any armchair historian like myself.
Profile Image for My Book Addiction and More MBA.
1,958 reviews63 followers
December 20, 2013
BACKSTAGE AT THE LINCOLN ASSASSINATION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE ACTORS AND STAGEHANDS AT FORD'S THEATRE by Thomas A. Bogar is an interesting History set during the Civil War era. April 14,1865 was the date the "shot was heard around the theate". This is the date President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre. This is the untold story....

This is the day lives where changed forever, both on stage and off. A true-life thriller. Mr. Bogar shines the light on many questions about this date, April 14. With his research Mr. Bogar has stunning details involving more that Booth's involvement in the assassination, there where more than a few suspects both inside and outside the Ford Theatre on that fateful day in history.

There have been many books written on this topic, but few if any written on the actors, and stagehands who where present at Ford's Theatre. I was held spell-bound with this knowledge, the facts, and the historical research in writing such an undertaking. Well done! I would highly suggest this title, if your are a history buff, enjoy Civial War history, and/or the history of the assassination of President Lincoln. A new and fresh look at the "shot heard around the theatre". Received for an honest review from the publisher.

REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Profile Image for Fred Fisher.
210 reviews6 followers
October 12, 2017
Liking history and having been a stagehand for 50 years and knowing the person who was hired to produce shows there in the sixties, I was attracted to this book. The most surprising part for me was how little has changed in the business in 150 years. We are in a business of traditions. You could walk into any stock company in the Nation and find few differences in the jobs and relationships between then and now.
Now, about the book itself. Thomas A. Boyar, professor of theater history at Hood College in Frederick Maryland, has thoroughly researched this and provided a detailed picture of the stagehands, house staff and actors associated with Ford's Theater on the night that Lincoln was assassinated. The details of the workers and their duties were all familiar to me. I can see where some, if not many would find it boring, but it's worth slogging through. The epilogue that gives short biographies of of every one through their death or disappearance from any available records.
Profile Image for Megan.
11 reviews
January 23, 2015
I was intrigued from the minute I saw this book at the Lincoln Home gift shop in Springfield. My mom was quite the Lincoln fan, so growing up, I had been to most Lincoln sites and have read a vast number of books about Lincoln. I have also been acting in school and community theatre productions since I was 11. I was curious to read about, not only the info about the assassination, but also details about how the theatre worked in the 1860's. This book did not disappoint in that regard.

It's rare to find a new Lincoln book that contains a lot of information I don't already know. This book did that. It was very well researched. Another reviewer said that it leaves a lot of questions. It has to. The historical record only shows us so much. A researcher can not be expected to find information that does not exist.
Profile Image for Erin.
113 reviews
August 22, 2019
I really wanted to like this book. It is obviously very well researched. The writing just isn't interesting at all, and frankly I couldn't keep the players (onstage and off) straight most of the time. I've chatted with another theatre friend who agrees. I did make it to the end, but he hasn't. It's great for a reference book, but not an exciting read.
Profile Image for David.
78 reviews
June 25, 2017
An interesting premise, but it's a lot of speculation and side stories...I tired of it midway through and didn't finish.
Profile Image for Keith Pruitt.
42 reviews
June 29, 2021
Since a young child, I've had a fascination with Presidents. I suppose that is why as an adult I tend to write a great deal about them and read many books about them. When I read across Backstage, I realized I had read very little about what happened with the folks on stage and behind the curtains in the moments and days after the assassination. Bogar's book has shed a great deal of light on those events. The book is not an easy read. It is chalked full of great research, details, and amazing insights about the people from the actors to the stage hands. Focus centers on Ned Spangler primarily because of his arrest as a Lincoln conspirator. We get a much clearer picture of what type of person Ned really was. But, although he may have inadvertently done so, the author also sheds a great deal of light on the almost dictatorial management of the crisis by Secretary of War Stanton. Arresting countless people and holding them in the horrendous Capitol Prison without due process sometimes for many weeks. These included the Fords. Prisoners were forced to say what the government wanted them to say about the accused. Those who were brought to trial were placed in custody on a ship in worse conditions they had endured in the prison. Bogar gives clear, troubling details about these circumstances making this book one of the best researched and valuable books on the assassination I've read to date. For example, did you know that the very bed on which Lincoln had died was occupied just a few weeks before by a napping John Wilkes Booth who was visiting a friend who was staying there. One of the other things that comes out are the folks who had direct ties to Booth who were never charged. And should have been. Bogar doesn't deal a great deal with the controversy of Mary Surratt. Or of her son John who fled to Canada. Bogar also accounts for the lives the actors and others lived after this episode passed even accounting for the very last person who lived the longest after April 14, 1865. This was a fascinating read. For those who think they know the Lincoln assassination, I challenge you to read Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination and find out just how little you really know. Thank you Thomas Bogar for a superb contribution to the Lincoln writings.
79 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2023
‘Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination’ by Thomas A. Bogar provides compelling evidence that every possible angle of the shooting of Abraham Lincoln has been thoroughly published from every perspective. The author provides a detailed biographical snapshot of every person backstage, and their subsequent actions, at the moment that John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger during a performance of ‘Our American Cousin’ at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC. Although parts of the book, especially those dealing with the night of the assassination, are interesting and even exciting, much of the book is composed of endless details regarding characters, many of whom we have never heard of. These dry chapters are over-detailed and, although useful for historians, are quite tedious for the average reader. This is a very well-researched and very well-written retelling, but there are far more rewarding books regarding the death of Lincoln.
3 reviews
October 29, 2018
Thomas A. Bogar provides a new angle to a pivotal point in history, the assassination of President Lincoln. The novel shows how the careers of the actors at Ford's Theatre were destroyed and how the lives of the workers were impacted with well-founded sources and evidence. It displays the relations of John Wilkes Booth with the workers in the Ford's Theatre and how that had ruined them during the trials afterwards. What I love about the book is that it includes some pieces of history of the theatrical profession during that time period. Some chapters do get confusing at times because numerous information of different people are told at once and the history of the workers get jumbled together. I recommend this book to anymore who loves to learn about uncommon and surprising facts throughout history.
117 reviews
March 8, 2023
This is a well researched book. Most of the book concerns itself the the cast of characters( and it is extraordinarily large) at the Ford Theater on the night of the assassination. The first part of the book discusses the play, My American Cousin, deals with the employees present at theater on that tragic night, and their individual jobs and duties. All of this is discussed in great deltail. This is truly is a book about the theater in mid 19th century America. If this is not an area of interest, this is probably not the book for you.

The second portion of the book deals with the interogations, incarcerations and trials of various people present at and involved in the assassination. Here the book becomes more interesting and relevant.
Profile Image for Robert.
75 reviews10 followers
May 18, 2018
It's hard to find a book on Lincoln's assassination that does not simply rehash the same information. However, Bogar successfully crafts a fresh and fascinating perspective. A must read for those who enjoy researching all things Lincoln as well as theater lovers.
Profile Image for Jim Swike.
1,508 reviews14 followers
October 23, 2018
I visited Ford's theater recently, if you have visited this story will really come to life. I had not known about the story of the actors and stagehands, what happened to them on that fateful night and afterwards. A great read, and a great reference book. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Melanie Hepburn.
216 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2020
A book with a great amount of historical detail written in not the most friendliest way.

An interesting read that I needed to take my time going through. The cast of characters at the front of the book was much needed.
Profile Image for John P. Davidson.
143 reviews5 followers
October 8, 2020
This is an exceedingly well written, intimate look at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It covers the many people who worked at the theater that night, the actual witnesses to his murder, and the police investigation that followed. I can highly recommend this.
396 reviews
January 7, 2019
Technical but rad around those parts. Learned about Washington at that time. Heard the author speak a few years ago.
Profile Image for Justin.
570 reviews12 followers
February 2, 2019
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't necessarily what I expected. It was much less about the actual event of the assassination and more focused on before and after the event itself. It was a bit slow at times, and I definitely enjoyed the latter half about the trial proceedings after the shooting. Fans of theatre will probably enjoy this even more than I did.
699 reviews2 followers
March 9, 2015
I’ve been a student of Abraham Lincoln for many years. I enjoy reading about him and his family.
I always seem to learn something new. When I stumbled across this 2013 gem from Regency History, I knew I was onto something.

None of the other books I had read or movies I had seen every delved into this particular aspect of the assassination. As Bogar researches this unmined area, he makes some interesting revelations.

The book is about the forty-six actors and stagehand that were either on stage or backstage after John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Now approaching the 150th anniversary of this event, figures from the past seem to hover back in the gaslight for another review.

The people who were in John T. Ford’s employment that night had their lives complicated, distributed, disrupted, and even destroyed. Some could never outrun Lincoln’s ghost; others, like Peanut John completely disappeared from history.

The crux of the true-life expose is how most of Ford’ employees were arrested and tried.

Not many history books cover this aspect of the assassination.

While not a page-turner, Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford’s Theater is an interesting, revelatory read.
Profile Image for John.
42 reviews
July 22, 2014
When I was 10 I bought my first history book not written for children. It was Jim Bishop's THE DAY LINCOLN WAS SHOT. Over the years I read it so many times that the binding broke loose and I had to keep the pages together with a rubber band. I have read many, many books about the Lincoln Assassination---most focusing on the conspirators or the people who witnessed the event from the audience. Thomas A. Bogar's BACKSTAGE AT THE LINCOLN ASSASSINATION fills in a huge gap by telling the story from the point of view of the people who were working in Ford's Theatre that day---the actors, stage manager, stagehands, costume manager, the props manager, ushers, and box office employees. The details come from trial testimony and interviews with the theatre employees immediately after the event (as the government investigated the crime), and from interviews which appeared in newspapers and magazines years later. Having worked in the theatre business all my adult life I was astonished to learn how little the backstage routine has changed in 150 years. Bogar really has made an exceptional contribution to scholarship of the event. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Profile Image for Guy Priel.
74 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2017
After reading so many books about Lincoln, I was expecting much of the same with this book, but I was surprised. Very little is written about the people behind the scenes. We all know the major players at Ford's Theatre, but this book gives more insight into those seldom considered. A great read and well written historically account.
216 reviews
January 15, 2017
This book adds to the information to the body of work about the events surrounding the Lincoln Assassination, and generally, I enjoyed reading it. Much of the material provided is very informative. However, the book just seems to bog down in places. For instance – was the lengthy portion devoted to that day’s dress-rehearsal for the play My American Cousin very helpful or germane to the overall subject of the book? I don’t believe so, and to slug through that portion was tedious. The author provides snippets of the lives of the different people present at Ford’s Theater in multiple chapters – a technique that makes it difficult to get a true picture of any of their lives. I believe the book would have been much more readable if each person’s details would have been put together in one location – smaller chapters devoted to each person. Then you would have gotten a true biographical sketch of each.
Profile Image for PJ Wenzel.
287 reviews4 followers
July 30, 2016
Though the history is thoroughly researched, and some of the information is interesting, I found myself bored stiff. There is some help in here historically, in that you learn more of the context of the situation that Lincoln was in. But the bottom line was screaming off the page: the reason these stories are "untold" (in this instance), was because they don't have much to offer.

If I were a stage actor, I would probably enjoy this book. The ins and outs of the lives of the dozens of backstage hands and actors at Ford's theatre were covered in detail. And trust me, none of them were very sensational.

So kudos to Bogar who has written a thorough history of the people of Ford's theatre, and to those .00026% of people in the world who find themselves in the profession of the theatre, I commend this book to you - certainly you'll enjoy it more than I did!
217 reviews4 followers
May 25, 2016
Of all the reading I've done on Lincoln or his assassination, none of the books covered the people in the theater that awful night. When I saw this title, it intrigued me. I wondered, then, what about those people? How did this event affect them, their lives and futures. Bogar delivers that story in a well paced and easy to read way. The book presents the story from the perspective of the theater company, from preparing for their performance to the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination. It made me also think about situations in our times, when shooters walk into a place and wreak havoc, how do the survivors move forward and what happens to their lives? A very interesting and fresh perspective on this episode in history, and very glad I picked this one up.
Author 3 books4 followers
October 23, 2014
A third of "Backstage" details the activities of actors and actresses, stagehands, and others who were working at Ford's Theater on the night of April 14, 1865--all 46 of them; thankfully, there is a list with short descriptions of each person for quick reference as needed. The rest of the book covers the the investigation that followed the assassination and explores some theories about who may have assisted John Wilkes Booth. The narrative is never dull, and I learned a lot about the world of mid-19th century theater from it. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the Lincoln assassination.
Profile Image for Lawrence.
354 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2014
Thomas Bogar takes us backstage to meet the actors and stage hands on the night Lincoln was assassinated all of whose lives were never the same again. One of the things that I found interesting was the look at the jobs and terms of the theater in the 1860's. Everyone that was there is accounted for and were looked at as possible conspiritors and threatened with arrest and violence by a grieving city. An important book for understanding what happened that night.
Profile Image for Eric Ruark.
Author 23 books27 followers
May 8, 2014
This book is for the kinds of people who like "the rest of the story" kind of thing. I loved it. It tells the story of what happened to the people who were on stage and backstage when Lincoln was killed. Most of them knew Booth, had drinks with him or acted with him at other venues. Many of them feared for their lives in the backlash. A great read that I readily recommend to history and Civil War buffs.
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