Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth

Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth

by James Cross Giblin
     
 


Edwin Booth and his younger brother John Wilkes Booth were, in many ways, two of a kind. They were among America’s finest actors, having inherited their father’s commanding stage presence along with his penchant for alcohol and impulsive behavior. In other respects, the two brothers were very different. Edwin was more introspective, while John was… See more details below

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Overview


Edwin Booth and his younger brother John Wilkes Booth were, in many ways, two of a kind. They were among America’s finest actors, having inherited their father’s commanding stage presence along with his penchant for alcohol and impulsive behavior. In other respects, the two brothers were very different. Edwin was more introspective, while John was known for his passionate intensity. They stood at opposite poles politically, as well: Edwin voted for Abraham Lincoln; John was an ardent advocate of the Confederacy.

Award-winning author James Cross Giblin draws on first-hand accounts of family members, friends, and colleagues to create vivid images of Edwin Booth and his brother John Wilkes, best known today as the man who shot Abraham Lincoln. He traces the events leading up to the assassination and describes the effects of John Wilkes’s infamous deed on himself, his family, and his country. Comprehensive and compelling, this dual portrait illuminates a dark and tragic moment in the nation’s history and explores the complex legacy of two leading men—one revered, the other abhorred. Notes, bibliography, index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Giblin is brilliant...breathtaking clarity...readers will be engrossed until the very last footnote." BOOKLIST, starred review

Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Giblin raises his biographical curtain....opens a wealth of avenues for further reading...put[s] faces to the history." HORN BOOK Horn Book

"The writing is engaging and eminently readable...consummate storytelling. What a story! This is nonfiction at its finest." SLJ, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"Compelling...fascinating biography of brothers during a time of war....readable and interesting." KIRKUS, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"[A] dual biography by a master of the art...Giblin weaves high drama." THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD The Washington Post

"Giblin...offers a particularly poignant picture...relates the fraternal saga with verve as well as diligence." BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Children's Literature
Giblin has contributed many fine informational books to children's literature; this one is no exception. As he points out, almost everyone knows John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln, but few young readers are aware of his brother, actor Edwin Booth. The brothers were sons of famous thespian, Junius Brutus Booth, and brothers to Junius Brutus the younger. While Edwin did not set out to be an actor, his handsome, dashing younger sibling reveled in applause and attention. Both became accomplished actors, earning praise alike for comedy and leading Shakespearean roles. The outbreak of Civil War led to a serious breach between them and eventually to John's obsession with the Confederate cause. Giblin reveals that John used part of his considerable earnings to buy forbidden supplies for the South, may have spied, and certainly hatched several plots to kidnap Lincoln before his final plot to assassinate the President. Especially compelling is the unfolding of that plot, its conspirators and their fates, enhanced by Alexander Gardner's haunting photographs of the men (and one woman) and the hanging of four of them. American history buffs will have a hard time putting down this fascinating story of two very different brothers whose lives diverged so sharply, one committing a hideous crime and the other suffering its effects the rest of his life. Edwin's character is the more deeply probed; this biography may well lead readers to further research about American theater in the nineteenth century and Edwin Booth's many contributions to his beloved profession. 2005, Clarion, Ages 10 to 14.
—Barbara L. Talcroft
VOYA
One of the most notorious names in American history is John Wilkes Booth, who in 1865 assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Few readers know the illustrious background of the Booth family and its place in the annals of American theater. Focusing on the divergent paths taken by the two talented Booth brothers, John and his older brother Edwin, Giblin offers an interesting glimpse into the deeply passionate schism dividing both country and family. Junius Brutus Booth, theatrical patriarch of the family, was hailed both as genius and madman. Edwin became his father's companion and watchdog, joining his father's traveling theater troupe at the young age of thirteen. John, his parents' favorite from birth, remained at home, doted upon by his older sister and mother. Edwin became one of the finest classical actors of his time. John, also a fine actor and ladies man, was "overwhelmed by his irrational hatred of President Lincoln" and became one of the most reviled figures in American history. Chock-full of photos and illustrations, this resource is a tantalizing window into America's political and social past, with much to interest history buffs. One jarring aspect in an otherwise fascinating biography is the frequent use of unauthenticated conversation and thoughts attributed to specific people. Nevertheless it is a worthy purchase for most collections. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Clarion, 256p.; Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes., $22. Ages 12 to 18.
—Marian Rafal
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Actors Edwin and John Wilkes Booth each had a compelling stage presence and a fondness for alcohol, just like their famous father, Junius. Edwin spent his life perfecting his craft and building a reputation as the finest classical actor of his time. John was impulsive, popular with the ladies, and best known today as the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. The text is carefully researched, drawing heavily on firsthand accounts from family members and liberally illustrated with photographs, most from the Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library. The writing is engaging and eminently readable, and presents history in a manner that is, in essence, consummate storytelling. Giblin traces the events leading up to the assassination, discussing the Civil War, John Wilkes Booth's love for the Confederacy, and the plots he and his colleagues hatched to kidnap Lincoln. The effects that the assassination had on the country, and his family, are clearly presented. The search for Booth and his coconspirators rivals the excitement of police procedurals as Giblin chronicles efforts by law enforcement to bring the group to justice. Edwin's later life and his contributions to American theater are discussed. Behind all his successes, however, stood the ghost of his brother John, and the act that would forever link the Booth name with disgrace. What a story! This is nonfiction at its finest.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618096428
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/28/2005
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
356,785
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.83(d)
Lexile:
1130L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Giblin is brilliant...breathtaking clarity...readers will be engrossed until the very last footnote." BOOKLIST, starred review

Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Giblin raises his biographical curtain....opens a wealth of avenues for further reading...put[s] faces to the history." HORN BOOK Horn Book

"The writing is engaging and eminently readable...consummate storytelling. What a story! This is nonfiction at its finest." SLJ, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"Compelling...fascinating biography of brothers during a time of war....readable and interesting." KIRKUS, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"[A] dual biography by a master of the art...Giblin weaves high drama." The Washington Post BOOK WORLD The Washington Post

"Giblin...offers a particularly poignant picture...relates the fraternal saga with verve as well as diligence." BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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