The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth

The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth

5.0 1
by Barnaby Conrad
     
 

A gripping historical thriller, this book is based on the often-advanced theory that Lincoln’s assassin was not killed in the barn in Virginia but escaped to a second life in the Wild West. Barnaby Conrad was told the plot in 1947 by Sinclair Lewis, while serving as personal secretary to the Nobel-Prize winning author. They agreed to coauthor the book, but

Overview


A gripping historical thriller, this book is based on the often-advanced theory that Lincoln’s assassin was not killed in the barn in Virginia but escaped to a second life in the Wild West. Barnaby Conrad was told the plot in 1947 by Sinclair Lewis, while serving as personal secretary to the Nobel-Prize winning author. They agreed to coauthor the book, but only one of them lived to tell the tale. Conrad follows Booth as he secretly makes his way to Robert E. Lee’s headquarters, expecting to be received as a hero. Instead Lee believes him an impostor and drives him away. The penniless Booth flees on a riverboat up the Missouri River to Montana Territory and assumes a new identity in a rough frontier town. Just as Booth falls in love with a kind woman, a bloodhound-like reporter appears, the truth is revealed and justice is delivered a la Greek tragedy.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A fictional reimagining of the ultimate fate of Lincoln's famous assassin.

Artist and author Conrad (Last Boat to Cadiz, 2003, etc.) is best known for his 1952 novel Matador. But the author's résumé also includes a stint as secretary to Nobel Prize–winning novelist Sinclair Lewis. In a compelling afterword, Conrad reveals that Lewis sketched out the entire plot of a fictional novel about John Wilkes Booth during a curious monologue in 1947. The pair decided to write the novel, originally titled Thus Ever To Tyrants, together, but their plans went awry. Now Conrad finishes the project, creating a Booth who still succeeds in shooting Lincoln at Ford's Theatre but who manages to escape. He eventually makes his way to Gen. Robert E. Lee's camp in Richmond, where Mathew Brady is taking Lee's portrait. Booth expects to be hailed a hero, and so is startled by Lee's furious response. "My poor friend, Abraham Lincoln and I had vastly different political ideas, but he was one of the finest men America has ever seen," Lee shouts. "If indeed you are convinced you are the maniac who killed him, you should be hanged as an example from the nearest tree." Here, Booth's revolutionary zeal for the South remains unchanged, but he does realize the enormity of his trespass. Those who helped him are hanged for treason, while others, like Dr. Samuel Mudd, are imprisoned. Booth makes his way to the West, where he settles into a quiet life as John Richard Marlowe, going so far as to marry a Lincoln admirer. It all comes unraveled when journalist Langford Upham tracks the stage actor to his home in Montana, where not even Booth's remarkable performance can save him from the final reveal.

A superfluous novel, more interesting as a literary artifact.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571782250
Publisher:
Council Oak Books
Publication date:
06/15/2010
Pages:
258
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author


Barnaby Conrad is the author of more than 30 books, including 101 Best Beginnings Ever Written, Dangerfield, The Death of Manolete, La Fiesta Brava, and Matador, as well as the screenplay adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Flight. He is the founder of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and a recipient of the O. Henry Prize.

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The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Theocritus More than 1 year ago
This book was a fun, entertaining, and quick read. I'm a fan of historical fiction and this one does a nice job of blending history and fiction to create a compelling narrative, as it explores the story of Booth's life had he lived.