Booth: A Novel

Booth: A Novel

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by David M. Robertson
     
 

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A gripping historical novel in the bestselling tradition of The Alienist and Time and Again, Booth brings vividly to life a figure who continues to haunt the American imagination—John Wilkes Booth. The story begins as an elderly John Surratt, the only conspirator to escape a hanging sentence for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, is asked by film

Overview

A gripping historical novel in the bestselling tradition of The Alienist and Time and Again, Booth brings vividly to life a figure who continues to haunt the American imagination—John Wilkes Booth. The story begins as an elderly John Surratt, the only conspirator to escape a hanging sentence for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, is asked by film director D.W. Griffith to recount the harrowing events of his youth during the screenings of Griffith's film Birth of a Nation. The request prompts Surratt to reread his detailed diaries, begun in 1864 when he was first befriended by John Wilkes Booth and was unwittingly enmeshed in Booth's plot to assassinate the President.

Told through a series of flashbacks, the novel both chronicles the young, naive Surratt's tragic coming of age as he belatedly realizes the nature of the plot Booth has sucked him into, and illuminates the motivations, larger-than-life appetites, and appeal of the charismatic and world-famous stage actor. As Surratt delves further into the diaries and transcripts, it is clear the young Surratt has become trapped in Booth's web of seduction and betrayal. Further insight into the assassination plot is revealed in a surprising twist when the genuine diary that Booth left behind, explaining his actions and implicating others around him, falls into Surratt's hands (a Booth diary, with several missing pages, does exist and is on public display at the Ford Theater in Washington).

Compulsively readable, and filled with brilliant period detail—as well as a dozen reproductions of actual photographs of the conspirators and their execution, Booth is a powerful evocation of a dangerous, chaotic, and tragic time in our history, a story that continues to resonate to this day.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Washington D.C. during the final weeks of the Civil War is perfectly realized...Robertson has authentically assumed not only the voice but also the persona of a real person; it would have been easy for him to vilify Surratt, but instead, in his wisdom, he has imbued Surratt with a compelling ambiguity of character."—Booklist

"Brings to mind two other fiction debuts, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Caleb Carr's The Alienist...but it offers its own potent inducements, notably an immensely compelling subject—the plot to assassinate Lincoln—and a charismatic antihero, John Wilkes Booth...brilliantly capitalizes on the inexorability of historical fact; few readers will put it down as it surges toward the horror of April 14, 1865."—Publishers Weekly

"Riveting in its depiction of time and place...[Robertson's]portrait of wartime Washington in the last days of the Civil War is filled with vivid particulars, and his rendering of the hustling spirit of the town, with almost everyone angling for money or power, seems just right."—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385487078
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/1998
Pages:
328
Sales rank:
1,181,234
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

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Booth 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down! The author puts you in the middle of the action, side-by-side with Booth's accomplice. A very entertaining, yet educational novel!