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

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  43 reviews
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 sto
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Hardcover, 377 pages
Published November 4th 2013 by Regnery History (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Jason
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 ...more
David Kent
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 America
...more
Katie
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 th ...more
My Book Addiction and More MBA
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 q
...more
Fred Fisher
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 Col
...more
Megan
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
David
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting premise, but it's a lot of speculation and side stories...I tired of it midway through and didn't finish. ...more
Rani P.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 thea ...more
Erin
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. ...more
Robert
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jim Swike
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Melanie Hepburn
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.
John P. Davidson
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dee
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Technical but rad around those parts. Learned about Washington at that time. Heard the author speak a few years ago.
Steve
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A very interesting perspective.
Justin
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
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. ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
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 b
...more
John
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t ...more
Guy Priel
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Randy
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 prov ...more
PJ Wenzel
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
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 h
...more
Drew Zagorski
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 ...more
Gerald Swick
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 m ...more
Lawrence
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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. ...more
Eric Ruark
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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. ...more
David Corleto-Bales
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A very interesting book about the various actors, actresses, stagehands, ticket takers, etc. who were at Ford's Theater on the night of April 14th, 1865, the night Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. The resulting dragnet snared pretty much everyone who was there: actors and crew alike, many being held for weeks and relentlessly questioned. The theories about who might have been involved continue to this day. Interesting reading. ...more
Richard
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I gave it four stars. If I could I'd give the first of the book talking about the asaasination and the immediate aftermath five stars. Then, I'd give the second half of the book, about the trials that went on for years two stars. i just found the story of the assassination far more interesting than all the legal wrangling and trials that followed. ...more
Scott
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an excellent analysis of the actors, crew and management of the Ford Theater who were performing, Our American Cousin when the assassination of President Lincoln took place. I had no idea the imprecations to the cast and crew as a result. The book is a fascinating account.
Nancy
Apr 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, assassins
This was an interesting book. It left me feeling there were many unanswered questions, and feeling some of the people found guilty, were innocent. All of the people in that theater production were affected for the rest of their lives.
Phil
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to read the stories of the people who intersected with tragic moments in history. It fills the gaps and makes the events personal.
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