Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever [NOOK Book]


A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O'Reilly

The anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham ...

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Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

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A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O'Reilly

The anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.

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  • Killing Lincoln
    Killing Lincoln  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Bill O'Reilly anchors the highest-rated U.S. cable news show and has written several bestsellers, but this labor of love is his first book on American history. For a subject, this Civil War era buff selected perhaps the most dramatic episode in our national annals: the April 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. To this sudden unfolding catastrophe, O'Reilly and historian co-author Martin Dugard lend a vivid sense of the new euphoria of post-war Washington suddenly broken by the first presidential assassination and the frantic hunt to identify and capture his killers. An illustrated history that reads like a thriller; a number one bestseller; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Publishers Weekly
Political commentator O’Reilly and coauthor Dugard (Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingston) take on the “most spectacular assassination conspiracy in the history of man” in the form of a thriller in this rendition of Lincoln’s murder. Ponderous foreshadowing and innuendo produce a tedious read, even as they enable the authors to resurrect a theory that secretary of war Stanton was involved in the conspiracy to kill the president, vice-president, and secretary of state. They concede the contention has been “repudiated and dismissed by the vast majority of trained historians,” and yet allude to it frequently. Inaccuracies (e.g., ignoring a 2010 study of King Tut’s mummy showing he died of disease, not assassination) and anachronisms (e.g., referring to Grant’s “photograph” in newspapers although until the 1880s only engravings were possible) mar the account. Well-documented and equally riveting histories are available for readers interested in Lincoln’s assassination; this one shows how spin can be inserted into a supposedly “no spin American story.” B&w photos and maps. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews

Cable-news talking head O'Reilly (Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama, 2010, etc.) and historian Dugard (To Be a Runner, 2011, etc.) serve up a sensational, true-crime account of one of the most shocking murders in American history.

In this fast-paced narrative history, the authors recount the weeks leading up to and immediately following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.They pick up the historical thread in the waning moments of the Civil War, as two bedraggled armies attempted to outmaneuver and outlast one another.A reflective and anxious Lincoln was near the battlefront, conferring with General Grant and waiting for the fall of Richmond that would signal the last phase of the war.Meanwhile, a disgruntled Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, traveled around Washington, D.C., and its environs fomenting unrest among his co-conspirators. In response to the fall of the Confederacy, Booth transformed the group's longstanding kidnapping plan into a vengeful and flamboyant plot to assassinate Lincoln and several key Cabinet members. The authors profess to be writing history that reads like a thriller, and their account of Lincoln's assassination makes ample use of tricks like cliffhanger endings, hypothetical psychological insights and fictional dialogue. Yet such narrative propulsions seem hardly necessary when chronicling the rapid-fire succession of major events that occurred during those fateful weeks: several of the bloodiest battles of an already brutal war, the surrender of the Confederacy, tumultuous celebrations in the North and the Good Friday assassination of a leader who was both beloved and despised. This moment in history is already dramatic, thrilling and shocking; applying the "thriller" motif delivers on the subtitle's description of a "shocking assassination" but fails to elucidate how the authors believe this event "changed America forever."

An entertaining tale that neither adds to the vast bulk of Lincoln scholarship nor challenges the established theories of Booth's plot and the subsequent trial of the conspirators. Readers seeking a consequential thriller-like portrayal of the assassination should turn to James L. Swanson's Manhunt (2005).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429996877
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 4,381
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly is the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor, the highest-rated cable news show in the country. He also writes a syndicated newspaper column and is the author of several number-one bestselling books. He is, perhaps, the most talked about political commentator in the country.

Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of several books of history. His book Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone has been adapted into a History Channel special. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three sons.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter Thirty-Three

Friday, April 14, 1865
Washington, D.C.
3:30 P.M.

"Crook," Abraham Lincoln says to his bodyguard, "I believe there are men who want to take my life. And I have no doubt that they will do it."

The two men are walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, on their way back to the War Department for their second meeting of the day. Lincoln wants a short session with Stanton to discuss the fate of a Confederate ringleader who very recently made the mistake of crossing the border from Canada back into the United States. Stanton is in favor of arresting the man, while Lincoln prefers to let him slip away to England on the morning steamer. As soon as Lincoln makes his point, he aims to hurry back to the White House for the carriage ride he promised Mary.

William Crook is fond of the president and deeply unsettled by the comments.

"Why do you think so, Mr. President?"

Crook steps forward as they come upon a group of angry drunks. He puts his body between theirs and Lincoln's, thus clearing the way for the president's safe passage. Crook's actions, while brave, are unnecessary—if the drunks realize that the president of the United States is sharing the same sidewalk, they give no notice.

Lincoln waits until Crook is beside him again, then continues his train of thought. "Other men have been assassinated," Lincoln says.

"I hope you are mistaken, Mr. President."

"I have perfect confidence in those around me. In every one of you men. I know that no one could do it and escape alive," Lincoln says. The two men walk in silence before he finishes his thought: "But if it is to be done, it is impossible to prevent it."

At the War Department, Lincoln once again invites Stanton and telegraph chief Major Thomas Eckert, the man who can break fireplace pokers over his arms, to attend Our American Cousin that night. Both men turn him down once again. Lincoln is upset by their rejection, but he doesn't show it outwardly. The only indication comes on the walk back to the White House, when he admits to Crook, "I do not want to go." Lincoln says it like a man facing a death sentence.

Inside the White House, Lincoln is pulled into an unscheduled last-minute meeting that will delay his carriage ride. Lincoln hides his exasperation and dutifully meets with New Hampshire congressman Edward H. Rollins. But as soon as Rollins leaves, yet another petitioner begs a few minutes of Lincoln's time. A weary Lincoln, all too aware that Mary will be most upset if he keeps her waiting much longer, gives former military aide Colonel William Coggeshall the benefit of a few moments.

Finally, Lincoln marches down the stairs and heads for the carriage. He notices a one-armed soldier standing off to one side of the hallway and overhears the young man tell another, "I would almost give my other hand if I could shake that of Lincoln."

Lincoln can't resist. "You shall do that and it shall cost you nothing, boy," he exclaims, smiling broadly as he walks over and grasps the young man's hand. He asks his name, that of his regiment, and in which battle he lost the arm.

Only then does Lincoln say his farewells and step outside. He finds Mary waiting at the carriage. She's in a tentative mood—they've spent so little time alone in the past few months that being together, just the two of them, feels strange. She wonders if Lincoln might be more comfortable if they brought some friends along for the open-air ride.

"I prefer to ride by ourselves today," he insists. Lincoln helps her into the barouche and then is helped up from the gravel driveway to take his seat beside her. The four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage features two facing double seats for passengers and a retractable roof. The driver sits in a box seat up front. Lincoln opts to keep the roof open, then covers their laps with a blanket, even though the temperature is a warm sixty-eight degrees.

The war has been hard on their marriage. Mary is delighted beyond words to see that Lincoln is in a lighthearted mood. She gazes into her husband's eyes and recognizes the man who once courted her.

"Dear Husband," she laughs, "you startle me by your great cheerfulness. I have not seen you so happy since before Willie's death."

"And well I may feel so, Mary. I consider this day, the war has come to a close." The president pauses. "We must both be more cheerful in the future—between the war and the loss of our darling Willie we have been very miserable."

Coachman Francis Burns guides the elegant pair of black horses down G Street. The pace is a quick trot. Behind them ride two cavalry escorts, just for safety. The citizens of Washington are startled to see the Lincolns out on the town. They hear loud laughter from Mary as the barouche passes by and see a grin spread across the president's face. When a group calls out to him as the carriage turns onto New Jersey Avenue, he doffs his trademark stovepipe hat in greeting.

• • • 

Throughout the war, Lincoln has stayed in the moment, never allowing himself to dream of the future. But now he pours his heart out to Mary, talking about a proposed family trip to Palestine, for he is most curious about the Holy Land. And after he leaves office he wants the family to return to their roots in Illinois, where he will once again hang out his shingle as a country lawyer. The "Lincoln & Herndon" sign has never been taken down, at Lincoln's specific request to his partner.

"Mary," Lincoln says, "we have had a hard time of it since we came to Washington, but the war is over, and with God's blessing we may hope for four years of peace and happiness, and then we will go back to Illinois and pass the rest of our lives in quiet. We have laid by some money, and during this term we will try to save up more."

The carriage makes its way to the Navy Yard, where Lincoln steps on board USS Montauk. His intent is just a cursory peek at the storied ironclad, with its massive round turret constituting the deck's superstructure. But soon its crew mobs Lincoln, and he is forced to politely excuse himself so that he can return to Mary. Unbeknownst to Lincoln, the Montauk will soon serve another purpose.

Lincoln offers a final salute to the many admirers as coachman Burns turns the carriage back toward the White House. It's getting late, and the Lincolns have to be at the theater.

John Wilkes Booth is expecting them.

Copyright © 2011 by Bill O'Reilly

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1312 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Too Many Errors to be Taken Seriously

    I like Bill O'Reilly very much. He has done the people a great service by having many who know little or nothing at all about the subject of this book induced to learn about it and perhaps to become interested in that subject in a way that never would have been possible had not HE been its author. But those folks deserved better.

    I am someone who knows a great deal about this subject and, as such, when reading this book, contrary to never feeling as though I could not put it down, I found myself instead periodically feeling like throwing it across the room. Why? Because of the agonizingly regular appearance of errors. Errors matter because when one comes across information which, despite years of study of a subject, appears to be new, instead of celebrating the discovery of that new information or the appreciation of having understood an old story from a new perspective because of that new information, one is left with the overriding suspicion that the new information is not new at all, but only appears to be so because it is not true.

    Some examples: Booth did not bore a peep hole in the wall of the hallway leading to the Presidential Box at Ford's Theater, he bore that hole in a door, a door which is there at Ford's Theater to this very day for anyone who visits the site to see for himself. Did Mr. O'Reilly visit Ford's Theater?

    Mr. O'Reilly concludes his account of the surrender at Appomattox by observing that Grant and Lee would never meet again, when, in fact, they met the next day and conducted follow-up surrender negotiations on horseback, and met again in 1869 when Lee visited the White House to confer with Grant after he became President.

    Mr. O'Reilly tells of Grant, upon returning to Washington from City Point, going over to the White House to see Lincoln and meeting with him in the Oval Office. There was no Oval Office in 1865, and there would not be one until the 20th Century. Grant met with Lincoln in Lincoln's office on the second floor of the White House where today is located the room called the "Lincoln Bedroom".

    Details like these are important: Why else include them in the book in the first place? When details worthy for inclusion in the book are inaccurate the inaccuracies matter when they accumulate to the point where the credibility of the entire enterprise is put at risk and the book's reliability becomes suspect.That point is reached in this book.

    The book needed vetting it never received, and suffers as a result. The folks who read this book and put it down having learned a story they never before knew or fully appreciated might now be inspired to learn more about that story. The regret is that Mr. O'Reilly did not do a better job of giving them the head start he probably intended for them to have in order to succeed in that worthy effort.

    440 out of 535 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    The Purple Prose of the Assassination

    This review is written by John Berry, author of "A Night of Horrors," a historical thriller on the 24 hours of Lincoln's assassination.

    O'Reilly and Dugard have written a book on the assassination that is part thriller and part history book. Their stated intent was to write "a thriller" but one that remains "unsanitized and uncompromising" in its veracity. Though the title indicates that the book will focus on the assassination itself, it actually covers a span of several months, including the weeks leading up to the day of the shooting and the months following when the conspirators were rounded up and tried. While the facts and sequences discussed in Killing Lincoln are mostly accurate, the narrative moves along quickly and breezily, which makes for a quick read. The problem for me is that the subject of the book is weighty and meaningful, but the narrative skims along the surface. While O'Reilly and Dugard touch on many themes and issues that America faced as it struggled to end the bloodiest war in our history and reinstate the rebel states, they treat none of them in depth. They touch on a few of the many conspiracies that Americans love to debate when it comes to the Lincoln (and Kennedy, for that matter) assassinations. They raise many questions or potential themes, but delve into none in great detail or with any satisfaction.

    Also, the authors continually narrate from the viewpoint of how events unfolded. So every action of Lincoln, in particular, are interpreted and painted with a fatalistic brush. For instance, we have this on the morning of the shooting. "Every aspect of Lincoln's early morning has the feel of a man putting his affairs in order: reading the Bible, jotting a few notes, arranging for a last carefree whirl around Washington with his loyal wife, and setting his son on a path that will ensure him a successful future. All of this is done unconsciously, of course, but it is notable." In reality, Lincoln did many of these things every morning of the war. His habit, as the authors themselves point out, is to read from the Bible daily. He often went first to his office to tend to paperwork and then downstairs for breakfast. His carriage ride with his wife and his advice to his son occur because the war was coming to an end and not because he knew it was the last day of his life. But the authors can't seem to help themselves in over-writing and over-noting how coincidental things look in the light of the assassination.

    The narrative is often painted with purple prose. My favorite is the opening to Chapter 32: "Two thousand years after the execution of Jesus, there are still many unanswered questions about who was directly responsible for his death and what happened in the aftermath. And so it is, on Good Friday 1865, that a series of bizarre occurrences will take place."

    All in all, the book proves a frustrating read for a serious historian as it never dives too deeply into issues, characters, or themes. In their attempt to write both a history book and a thriller, they don't quite achieve either. "Killing Lincoln" does have a strong narrative drive and raises conspiracy questions that will prove of interest to some readers. But I came away feeling that O'Reilly and Dugard had missed the mark and never really provided any new insight or emotion into one of the most important 24 hour periods of our country.

    141 out of 194 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Errors throughout

    First off I must say I watch Mr. O Reilly from time to time. So I am not not to get him on this book. All I have heard is how great the book is. When in fact the book is full of errors. The one that set me off is found on page 97 of the book. He wrote that after Lee and Grant met at the McLean House for Lee to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia. The two would never met again... WRONG. The two met the very next day to talk about Lee helping to get Joe Johnston to surrender to Sherman. Lee said he would have to talk with President Davis. After Grant became President he sent word though friends he would like to see Lee. Seven weeks later Lee met with Grant at the White House. The two talked from about 30 minutes alone. Grant or Lee never said a word what the two talked about. I upset this was not a footnote. Because I am a great fan of Lee. Lee never allow a unkind word spoken about Grant. I wish Mr. O Reilly could get his facts right. I found many more issues un the pages that followed.I was going to give my copy to the local High School when I was finished with the book. But why give them a book with wrong facts in it.

    123 out of 203 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2011

    Would have rated it a 0 star.....Way Too Many ERRORS!

    I don't have all night to list the errors in this book. Save your money and just purchase "They Have Killed Papa Dead" or "Manhunt" for accurate portrayals of the events surrounding Lincoln's assasination. I can't believe O'Reilly is touting this book on talk shows as "ALL TRUE." Just a few examples of errors....1) He states Grant and Lee never meet again after Lee surrenders at Appomatox. False - they meet the next day to go over details and also again after Grant is president. 2) Chapter 40 states that Phillip Barton Key is married to a woman and is killed by her LOVER, with whom she is having an affair. This is backwards....Phillip Barton Key is the LOVER, not the husband, although he is killed by the husband. As a side note, the husband/killer is Dan Sickles, a former Union General who is the first to use the defense of "Not Guilty by Reason of Temporary Insanity" for his murder of Key. 3) The book states Booth blocked the door with a music stand. If O'Reilly simply went to Ford's Theater, he could see the wooden stick on display RIGHT NOW that Booth used to block the door. 4) The book states that Booth drilled a hole in the door the same afternoon that he killed Lincoln, so he could view Lincoln that night before assasinating him. This is a myth that is disputed also by visiting Ford's theater. The manager had drilled the hole long before that night to be able to view all of his VIP guests to ensure they were happy. 5) The book claims the actress who cradled Lincoln's head in her lap, and thus had his blood all over her dress, was haunted by this the rest of her life. In fact, she later held parties and modeled the dress to party attendees to show it off. Even later still, she cut up parts of the dress to give away as souvenirs to her favorite relatives and friends. 6) O'Reilly describes Mrs. Lincoln wore a gray dress to the play, when in fact she wore a black taffeta dress.

    As stated previously, there were too many errors to detail every one in this review. It was sloppy research, if there was research at all. Well-respected non-fiction writers use footnotes, but there are none in this book. Even in history class, I had to use footnotes on papers I submitted. I was looking forward to reading this book, but was seriously disappointed!

    122 out of 172 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    What a Read!!!!!

    Not a typical book I read, however this is a masterpiece......Informative, interesting and easy to read. Kudos to the authors who were so insightful in presenting such an event, which changed America, in a way that held my interest and make me proud that Lincoln was one of our great Presidents. Recommend this for students as well.

    72 out of 133 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    Inncorect facts and overall not s good book

    Save your money, therr are much better and more acturate books available...

    60 out of 134 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    Not very good

    Not a very good book. I would not have bought it if I would have known that the facts were wrong throughout the book.

    50 out of 99 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011


    I really really enjoyed reading this book ! Extremely well-written and well-researched and totally gripping ! I really did feel as though I'd travelled in a time tunnel back to April of 1865 ! This book should also be required reading in college courses and high school classes so students can know just how interesting history can be ! I really do hope Hollywood might make a movie based on it !

    46 out of 100 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Amazing Read!

    The writing was matter WHO wrote it...and it made history interesting. It detailed many events surrounding this period in history; things we aren't taught in school. Lincoln was a great president and this book tells a touching and human story of a very tragic historical event. I highly recommend reading this book! It truly made history come alive.

    42 out of 79 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    history comes alive

    "killing linclon" is very hard to put down. bill o reilly a former history teacher and popular talk show host has really done his home work and research on abraham linclon and the most infamous asasination event of our life time. not only did I find so many historical events that I did not learn about in school but I found out what happened to many of the conspiraters as well as many of the patriots.I also learned alot from about linclon as a president and what his personality was like perhaps after getting to know this great president alittle better I will know what to look for in a candidate in 2012 this book would make a great gift for a friend or family member

    40 out of 78 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Re Michael Farrell's LIBRARY JOURNAL review.

    Farrell wrote a very poor review. Wonder if he even read the book. The writing is factual and not "sensationalist". The remark about the book expressing a "northern perspective" also seems incorrect. The presentation is objective. I enjoyed this book a great deal and highly recommend it.

    31 out of 66 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2011

    Do not waste your money on this book

    Terrible grasp on Facts. Terrible grasp on english grammar. Terrible book.

    30 out of 75 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Must Read for All

    This book is great! It really shouldn't matter your opinion of the author. Any person in this country can author an historical book. I believe that there have been many an authored book by those with the opposite political view, true? Every person who then reads the book needs to use their own mind to determine the validity of the perspective which the author used in writing the book.

    Every history book was in effect written by the victors not the losers, they were dead remember. So all history has perspective and may or may not be the actual both-side story. If this is kept in mind when reading any history, there would probably be less arguments about the viewpoints of any author because everyone can make up their own minds after reading any book (history or not).

    Even if you don't agree with an author's political leanings, you can try the book and stop reading it at any time.

    I'm sure the very first reviewer hasn't even read the book and just wants to review the author!

    Good reading to you!

    28 out of 57 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Very highly recommended

    It's a page turner. If only history could have been presented like this in schools.

    26 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2011

    Biased and Low-Quality.

    To be frank, I thought that the entire book was a joke. The quality was incredibly low.

    24 out of 73 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2011

    Wonderful book.

    I just finished this great book and I highly recommend it to everyone. I actually felt like I was in the Ford theater on the night that President Lincoln was assassinated. I was very emotional reading about the last hours of his great life. I hope everyone reads it. So worthwhile.

    24 out of 46 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Mr O'Reilly, Don't quit your day job.

    I agree whole heartedly with the previous post, simple facts obviously were not double checked... This probably would be a great book for a pre-teen, but for a true Lincoln buff it doesn't quite cut the mustard. It seems to me as if this entire book could have been written in one or two sessions.

    22 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2011

    Not worth the time

    Really not worth the time or money

    21 out of 70 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Great Job Bill

    Good read kept me coming back for more Didnt want to put it down

    20 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011

    Rate if you've read it!

    Just read the first two chapters...great!!

    20 out of 60 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1312 Customer Reviews

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