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


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 ...
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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 In Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination, historian Thomas A. Bogar delves into previously unpublished sources to tell the story of Lincoln’s assassination from behind the curtain, and the tale is shocking.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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dr. Bogar's scholarship is original and impeccable. With stunning clarity, this vivid narrative shines a light into the shadows and behind the scenes of the most resonant crime in American history. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination is an indispensable resource for understanding the width, breadth and scope of the tragedy at Ford's Theatre." —-Erik Jendresen, writer/producer of Killing Lincoln and Band of Brothers
Library Journal
With Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox bringing an end to the Civil War, an undercurrent of unrest ran through the nation's capital. John Wilkes Booth had performed at Ford's Theatre many times and was well known among those preparing to perform Our American Cousin for a crowd that was to include President Lincoln on Friday, April 14, 1865. The question of Booth's influence upon and collaboration with his theater friends at Ford's and the effect of his outrageously defiant act on the rest of their lives is the subject of this book. As Bogar (American Presidents Attend the Theatre) follows 46 actors, stagehands, and managers, mostly from Ford's stock company, from this infamous day until the end of their lives, readers gain a fascinating view not only of the assassination but of these decades of theater history. As in Timothy Good's We Saw Lincoln Shot, the story relies on eyewitness accounts, but instead of being from the perspectives of the theatergoers, the tragic event is now told from new angles. Were those around the theater who had strong secessionist sentiments complicit in the plot to kidnap or assassinate the president? Why were there so many conflicting accounts? Was there a government conspiracy? VERDICT General readers of either U.S. theater history or the Lincoln assassination will gain new insights from this dramatic and different narrative of this tragedy.—Barbara Ferrara, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA
Kirkus Reviews
A convoluted detective story regarding the night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. What will strike modern readers while spooling through this complex account of the details of employee whereabouts at Ford's Theatre during the hours leading up to the assassination is how shockingly little security there was and how much everybody in the company had to drink. Maryland-based theater director, teacher and author Bogar (American Presidents Attend the Theatre: The Playgoing Experiences of Each Chief Executive, 2006, etc.) displays enormous knowledge of theater craft and players' repertoire, such as that by featured actors Laura Keene and her company starring in Our American Cousin on that particular night, a corny comedy that was a great favorite of Lincoln's. John Ford, owner and manager of the theater, had several theaters in the works, in Richmond, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and was known for his antipathy to the Union as well as his showcasing of promising talent John Wilkes Booth in numerous classical roles (Booth's pro-Union brother Edwin avoided playing at Ford's). Not only was the theater suspected as a "hotbed of spies and seditious plots," but Booth was allowed free range of the place, picking up his mail, loafing about during performances and between stints at neighboring bars. On this Good Friday, the president's party was to include Mrs. Lincoln and General and Mrs. Grant (although the Grants ended up not attending), throwing the theater into a tizzy of excitement and preparation--e.g., procuring furniture for the presidential box and selecting special music. Bogar painstakingly rehearses each and every actor, manager or stagehand, many of whom knew Booth well, for a run-through of the horrendous shooting and escape and delineates how individual versions varied hugely and would determine important legal consequences in a court of law. Detail-dizzying, creaky and sometimes absorbing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781621571742
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc., An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/4/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 169,758
  • File size: 790 KB

Meet the Author

Thomas A. Bogar holds a Ph.D. in Theatre History/Criticism/Literature from Louisiana State University. He has taught theatre for forty years, most recently at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia and Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. He is also the author of John E. Owens (2002), American Presidents Attend the Theatre (2006), and numerous journal articles. He has served as a judge for Washington, D.C.'s Helen Hayes Theatre Awards, and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer


    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.
    RATING: 4.5

    REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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