The President Is Shot: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln


On Friday evening, April 14, 1865, less than a week after the surrender of Confederate forces, John Wilkes Booth crept into Ford's Theatre and murdered Abraham Lincoln. Though it happened nearly 150 years ago, no one has been sure why it happened. In this riveting book, Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Lincoln, sweeps away the fog of history to answer the questions surrounding Lincoln's assassination. He shows the conditions of the time that led to the tragic event at Ford's Theatre, and...

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On Friday evening, April 14, 1865, less than a week after the surrender of Confederate forces, John Wilkes Booth crept into Ford's Theatre and murdered Abraham Lincoln. Though it happened nearly 150 years ago, no one has been sure why it happened. In this riveting book, Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Lincoln, sweeps away the fog of history to answer the questions surrounding Lincoln's assassination. He shows the conditions of the time that led to the tragic event at Ford's Theatre, and why those who hated Lincoln, such as John Wilkes Booth, sought such horrifying revenge. Filled with dramatic detail and illustrated with archival photographs, this book is bound to be considered an essential work for young readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Harold Holzer explains the presidency and ultimate demise of one of the starkest icons in American history. He describes Lincoln as a man who, after a short career in the House of Representatives, was thrust back into politics when he learned of a piece of legislation that threatened to expand the role of slavery. Though unsuccessful at first, he finally won the nomination, and eventual presidency. Holzer reveals, in mature yet undaunting prose, that, as much as Lincoln was revered in the North, he was equally despised in the South. The author ushers in the names of the conspirators and their plot to kidnap Lincoln. The first family is also profiled. The personal grief of the Lincoln family, coupled with the war that plagued the nation on so many different fronts, deepened the eyes and the moods of the president. The book is peppered with pictures and illustrations. We know the unfortunate outcome of the shot speared through Booth's pistol, but Holzer does, what I assume any good historian does, ends with a couple of what ifs. 2004, Boyds Mills Press, 144 pp., Ages young adult.
—Edward A. Wade
Children's Literature
Holzer zeroes in on a significant historical moment with an immediacy and depth that gives readers a sense of being there. He sets the scene well, describing how it occurred while the nation celebrated President Lincoln and the end of the Civil War. This celebration surprised Lincoln. He had been unpopular and accused of "destroying the country." The author describes Mary Lincoln's fears and phobias, how she mourned her a dead son, and her love of spending money. There are facets that will fascinate readers, like knowing that Lincoln had several dreams about his early death. One of those dreams was an exact vision of what later occurred. The author tells much about John Wilkes Booth—his talent, famous family fame, celebrity status, his insecurities, and the hatred which led him to plan to kidnap and then murder Lincoln. Holzer clear context and detailed pictures make this event an absorbing story. The book includes period etchings, reproduced mementos, and early photographs—there is everything from a mourning envelope to a picture of the execution of the conspirators. 2004, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 10 up.
—Susie Wilde
Library Journal
Gr 6-10-This is a fairly standard description of the violent end to Lincoln's life. Holzer provides the Civil War context of the event and then details April 14 and 15, 1865. While much of this book is a rehashing of what has been printed hundreds of times, it does work hard, particularly in the chapter entitled "Why Murder Lincoln?," to demonstrate that this president was not always the universally beloved icon that students see him as today. This is an important perspective and the Lincoln and Booth camps are equally represented throughout. The black-and-white photos and reproductions are appropriately chosen, and the postscript tells what happened to the principal players after the fact. Robert Somerlott's The Lincoln Assassination in American History (Enslow, 1998) focuses more on the events surrounding the murder and gives a better sense of how America changed because of it, while Deborah A. Marinelli's The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Rosen, 2002) is shorter and more focused on the shooting itself. Holzer's book can serve as a readable account for those fascinated by the subject or as a serviceable resource for reports.-Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Through parallel narratives, Holzer tells the story of Lincoln's presidency and John Wilkes Booth's conspiracy to avenge the fall of the Confederacy. He explains the evolution of Lincoln's attitude toward slavery as well as the evolution of the plot against Lincoln. Booth had witnessed the hanging of John Brown in 1859 and was both inspired by and jealous of the instant fame that Brown's historic action garnered. Booth led a conspiracy to kidnap the president in order to exchange him for the thousands of Confederate prisoners of war. The plan evolved into a plot to murder Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State Seward, in an attempt to throw the entire government into chaos. Holzer neatly weaves a huge amount of information into this fascinating story, a page-turner for history buffs. Archival prints and photographs enrich the text and he points out inaccuracies in the prints. A superb addition to the field. (postscript, bibliography, places to visit, index) (Nonfiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563979859
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2004
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 975,760
  • Age range: 8 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Holzer, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, served as chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He is the author, co-author, or editor of 35 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era. He has won many research and writing awards, most recently the National Humanities Medal in 2008. Holzer is a former journalist, and political and government press secretary.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    Harold Holzer does an excellent job at describing in great detail the events and people that led up to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Most people know the basic story of Lincoln's assassination, but do they really know why it happened? Booth was a well known actor which gave him access to the box Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot. Lincoln had also dismissed his body guard for the night, so he could go home and be with his family. The murder of Lincoln started out as a kidnapping. The South wanted to kidnap Lincoln until they got back their soldiers that were taken in the war. The plan was to let Lincoln go after their soldiers were returned. Booth took it out of proportion after his accomplices decided against the plan, so Booth wanted to kill Lincoln. He thought he would be a hero to the South. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes history. It was a very easy read and helped me learn a lot about President Lincoln.

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