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My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy
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My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  768 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
The scene of John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre is among the most vivid and indelible images in American history. The literal story of what happened on April 14, 1865, is familiar: Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, a lunatic enraged by the Union victory and the prospect of black citizenship. Yet who Booth really was—besides a killer—is less ...more
ebook, 496 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Free Press (first published 2010)
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Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Imagine hearing that one of the Baldwin Brothers or one of Martin Sheen's sons had just shot the President? That was the reaction of the public the day after Lincoln was murdered. There was no scrounging around looking for information on some obscure lone gunman like the media has been forced to do in these modern times. The theater going public of the day recognized the name of John Wilkes Booth immediately. He was the son of Junius Brutus Booth, one of first American theatrical 'stars' and bro ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: even if you don't consider yourself a civil war buff
The author, Nora Titone, grabbed me from the very first paragraph, in which she describes how Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, battles a blizzard to give a speech at a gala feast that would be attended by Mark Twain and hundreds of the leading figures of 1892. The honoree of the night would be an actor named Booth, an actor with strong ties to President Lincoln, probably the best-known actor of his day. No, not John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Father Abraham, but rather, his b ...more
Most of us have been taught that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. And most of us know little else about the assassin other than the fact that he had been an actor. This book delves into the life of John Wilkes Booth. Ms.Titone’s meticulous, documented research traces the history of the Booth family, and provides little known information about the motives behind Booth’s desire to assassinate the President. This thought provoking, historical family drama reads like a novel! I ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Those Booth boys really learned their ABCs: alcoholism, bigamy, child abuse, depression, egotism, ferocity, gambling, hotheadedness, infamy, jealousy, knuckleheadedness, lowhanded behavior, megalomania, narcissism, over-reaching, pettiness, ruthlessness, STDs, truculence, underhandedness, wild mood swings, xenophobia, and I leave q and z for you to discover. Alice Miller once wrote a book about how childhood trauma can produce either a Picasso or a Stalin. She should have looked at this family: ...more
Dan G
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Started out great, with a wealth of info about 19th century America and theatre world of that time. Nora Titone builds up this fantastic rivalry between the brothers Booth, with John Wilkes coming out on the bottom each time. Then, in the final chapter, it ends in a disappointing way. After all the chapters going into the rivalry and how it may have built up to JW's shooting of Lincoln, it reports the assassination itself, presumably the climactic part of the book, in a hurried, impersonal way. ...more
Paul Pessolano
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing

“My Thoughts Be Bloody, The Bitter Rivalry That Led to the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” by Nora Titone, published by Free Press.

Category – History Publication Date - May 31, 2011

An absolute must read for the historian or anyone interested in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Nora Titone puts a unique and interesting turn on his murder. A book that is totally dedicated to the Booth family, and the events leading up to Lincoln’s assassination.

The history of the Booth family begins with Ju
This highly readable work is a major accomplishment for any writer, especially a first time author. The book is well planned and paced. It starts with a description of Edwin Booth's life in as a leader in society in 1892. Then, the family story begins in a straight chronology starting with 1821 with Junius Brutus Booth to a smooth transition to the next generation of Edwin and John Wilkes. This is a powerful story on its own, and Nora Titone's skills as a researcher and writer bring it to full f ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This book give us pause to consider the actual possible reasons for John Wilkes Booth perpetrating the ultimate crime of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. She shows the possiblity of sibling rivalry and the relatively early loss of the father that John so much admired, and the possible psychological effects both of these issues could have had on John. Titone also helps us learn about the Booth family, and not just John Wilkes. For example, she informs us of how Edwin Booth was by f ...more
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
I really, really liked reading this book. It combined everything I like in a nonfiction history: a new angle on a subject that I was already interested in this case (in this case, the book offers a new take on John Wilkes Booth's motivations behind the assassination of Lincoln), and a look into a world that was previously obscured to me (in this case, the world of 19th century American theater).

Titone's fascinating thesis is that it was the stage rivalry between Edwin and John Wilkes that led t
Greg Western
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent history of 2 brothers and a father and a family. It is one big group of very interesting and super dysfunctional people who had the distinction of being tied to the murder of a president...THE President. The chapters on the father, Junius Brutus Booth, were fascinating and are a prime illustration of that old sins of the father Joseph Kennedy. JB was the most famous actor of his time, but had a pretty crazy life. His kids had a variety of problems, but some follow ...more
I was very much intrigued by the title and checked this book out of the library excited for a good fascinating argument on the motives of John Wilkes Booth's assassination of Lincoln. I was disappointed. She over reached with her premise and I was left confused by her title. Yes, there was a bitter rivalry between the two brothers, this is undeniable. However, I saw little connection in JWB's confederate fanaticism to his feelings about his brother. She did not develop this point to my satisfact ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, but unfocused. Titone doesn't leave the reader feeling like she proved her thesis. Too many pages spent on "supporting characters" like Julia Ward Howe and Laura Keane and all the Booth family members, and not enough on JWB. I see how she was sort of trying to make it like a play, with all these people in bit parts playing crucial roles as witnesses to the title characters' tragic lives. But that was not so well executed that it did not seem like a distraction. I have to say, though ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
wonderful, hated for this book to end
Nanette Bulebosh
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lincoln's assassination might have been avoided had John Wilkes Booth gotten along better with his siblings, especially his more successful and famous big brother, Edwin. This is simplifying Titone's thesis somewhat, but she does try to persuade us that the bitter, decades-long rivalry between John and Edwin played a part in John's horrific decision to kill the president in 1865. So did the Booth Brothers' actor father, who was more talented than either of them (at least until alcohol got the be ...more
Eric Kibler
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Titone does a great job at telling a true story about Shakespearean actors which in itself would be a worthy subject for one of the Bard's plays. She deconstructs the sibling rivalry between John Wilkes Booth and his brother Edwin. Edwin was the DeNiro of his day, both in looks and in his influential and realistic style of acting. John Wilkes was a ham-handed hack as an actor, although he had the matinee-idol good looks and and skill at stage combat that made him a lesser star.

Of course, aiding
Maria Quinlan
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Would you listen to My Thoughts Be Bloody again? Why?
Of all the books I have listened to and read, this is one of the few I would re-read or listen to again! This was my first Audible book (had done books on tape, CD, but not via Audible) and it got me hooked, if all books could be this good, this interesting, this captivating.

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Thoughts Be Bloody?
The are so many! The description of the lifestyles - the highs and lows, the life at Tudor Hall, the to
Derek Emerson
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books-read
Although not normally one to read about episodes in history, I sought out this book after reading an extended excerpt on Longreads (available online and highly recommended). At the same time I read about the family of the present day BTK serial killer, and I was intrigued about how these killers' legacies impact their own family. Booth's family was not just a regular family. Their father was famous actor in both England and the U.S., and one son, Ediwn, took his place and even owned theatres in ...more
Jeffrey Williams
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-war
After reading three other books on the Lincoln Assassination all in succession, this one was quite different. While the others focus more on John Wilkes Booth and the assassination, this one is a biography of the Booth family. While J.W.B. died before anybody could fully understand motive, and the remaining Booth family members refused to discuss this in public, Titone does an amazing job with her meticulous research and presentation of the facts. This book ends where the others begin.

Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This was a long book to listen to - 18 discs! - but it held my interest over the weeks that I've been listening to it in the car. While I've read quite a few books about Lincoln and the Civil War, this book came at that subject from a fresh angle, that of the Booth family. And it covers a lot of territory before even getting to the Big Event that we all associate with someone named Booth. The author begins with Junius Brutus Booth, a successful British actor who, in the 1820s, flees his homeland ...more
Edy Gies
It took me around three years to finish this book. The time it took me to complete this may imply that I didn't like the book, but really it was something I savored slowly and completely. (There were some logistical reasons as well, but anyway. . .)This is a thoroughly researched and well developed plot and story line. I have read many books about Lincoln and Booth and the assignation, and although each adds a little more depth to my knowledge of the events, this work seemed full of live and new ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an overwritten but fascinating book. Stephen Sondheim postulated years ago in Assassins that John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln because of his rivalry with his megastar brother Edwin and "a string of bad reviews." Nora Titone pulls together as astounding wealth of details from social, military, geopolitical, and cultural history, as well as the personal history of the amazing Booth family, to explore this theory. But she badly needed a more active editor. I disliked her habit of reintroducin ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Family dysfunction, not the Lincoln assassination, is at the core of Titone’s well-researched look into the Booth family psyche. Starting with patriarch, Junius Brutus Booth, the infamous Shakespearean actor and raging alcoholic, readers can begin to understand the often-abusive influences on the brothers Booth.

Edwin was forced to accompany his father, making sure he appeared on stage nightly, at twelve-years-old. He learned from his father everything that made him the biggest star of the Civil
Camden Drash
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
After watching an interview of Nora Titone on Charlie Rose I knew immediately I had to read this book. If it wasn't 12am on a Tuesday night in my hotel room in New York City at the time I would have ran out and bought it instantly. This book delivered just as I knew it would. The energy of Titone as she spoke about the story of the Booth family definitely sparked my interested being someone who never reads books of history. People never speak of the fame John Wilkes' older brother Edwin had in t ...more
I've been interested in John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln assassination for a few years now. Though only about a year ago, my interests started in learning about Edwin and the rest of the family. I had read Manhunt last year, after visiting Ford's Theater for the 150th anniversary, but it didn't leave me with much about the family that John Wilkes left behind. I got this book for Christmas and I enjoyed every minute of it. I got to learn things that I did now know or to learn more about the even ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific multi-biographical work of the entire Booth family albeit the focus of the work is obviously on the brothers - Edwin and John Wilkes. The author has done extensive, if not exhaustive research on her subject as indicated by the lengthy section of end notes and bibliograhy - a very scholarly book indeed. I was a bit disappointed at the end of the book, however, by the seeming lack of attention to John Wilkes' activities in the last couple of months leading up to his asassination ...more
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting book. However the book really doesn't get to the author's theory that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln because he sought the fame his brother Edwin had until half way through the book. The rest of the book is really a history of the Booth family from England, until after the assassination. If you want details of the assassination plot itself you will have to look elsewhere. Although there is no doubt that Edwin was, as was his father, the foremost actor in America during his ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really fantastic. I was enthralled with the Booth family story. JW Booth would today have been lumped with other self-aggrandizing sociopaths who kill people for no reason and then blame the victim. Maybe he was back then as well, but wow, someone shoudl have had an intervention or something.

anyhow, enough about JWB, but on to Edwin. the author described his (and his father's) INCREDIBLE fame quite well. I got the picture and was impressed to consider that level of fame in a time with no twitter
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another way to find a new angle on the Civil War...the relationship between the famous Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth and his brother, John Wilkes Booth.

The brothers could not have been more different. Edwin had the talent and discipline--John Wilkes did not. Before the War, Edwin's success was so great that he wanted to keep the cities with the biggest theatres to himself--Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia. This meant John Wilkes (who seldom got a good review or filled a theatre) got the
Jerry Delaney
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do we need to read more about the Lincoln assassination? Clearly I do, as I learned a lot from this book. This is a history of the Booth family, Junius and Mary Ann Booth and their large brood of children. More specifically it is about two sons who entered the family business of acting, Edwin and John Wilkes. Edwin became the most noted actor of the age, incredibly wealthy and a friend of the political and social giants of his time (even after the assassination). What was new to me was how poorl ...more
Oct 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I was reluctant to read this biography of the Booth family, but quickly became fascinated by the back story of republican (small "r") idealism, class barriers, family fortunes and sibling rivalry. Who knew, for example, that John Wilkes Booth speculated in the oil fields of Pennsylvania and, after that failed, used his investments as a cover for his work on behalf of the Confederacy? or that his older brother was the most famous actor of the nineteenth century?

So, why only three stars? I felt ch
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Has anyone read this book? 7 27 Jun 18, 2013 03:20PM  
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