Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Last night, I finished Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Lincoln's Killer. It's a great book. I'm not very knowledgable about American history before the 20th century (I love learning about the turn of the century and the Roaring Twenties), so almost all of this book was a revelation to me. I had just assumed that Booth was captured in the theater box immediately after he shot Lincoln. I had no idea he escaped and sent the nation on a 12-day manhunt. I also had no idea that he was the leader of a group of conspirators who, if they had succeeded, would have also wiped out the most important members of the cabinet.

There's next to nothing about Lincoln apart from brief glimpses of his final happy days in office and his final evening on earth. You learn far more about Booth and a bit about how his co-conspirators fared. There's a picture of him in the first chapter--what a handsome devil he was. It's so strange, but while I definitely don't like the racist prima-donna little jerk, I now have a morbid fascination of him. Maybe it's just my, umm, predilection for villains. :( I'm not the only one (and this is so bizarre/horrifying)--apparently there's a group of Southerners who to this day celebrate the death of Lincoln and raise a toast to "Our Brutus." I know Lincoln wasn't the perfect president (he suspended habeas corpus during the War and jailed accused Confederate sympathizers without evidence or trial), but come on!!

But what bummed me out after reading the book was the missed opportunity I had. In high school (pre-9/11), the senior trip was to Washington D.C. I had lots of fun, but the program we went through there was more focused on current politics than the historical aspects. And the times we did go to a museum, we were rushed through them (we only had 30 minutes to view the Smithsonian!). What kills me was that I was in Ford's Theater, but I didn't get to see anything! Oh yeah, I saw Bye Bye Birdie, but I didn't get to see the museum downstairs. I didn't get to see the Deringer and bowie knife Booth used to attack Lincoln and Major Rathbone, or his compass (if he knew how to read a compass correctly, he might have succeeded in escaping justice), or see his diary. I didn't even get to see or go near The Box either!

If I get the job I'm applying for (the job interview today went well I think), I'm gonna save up my money and vacation time for a week in D.C., take my sweet time and let all the history just wash over me in a great and constant wave.


Post a Comment

<< Home