The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth

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Overview


The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth is a gripping historical thriller 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 co-author 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, ...
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Overview


The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth is a gripping historical thriller 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 co-author 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.
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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571782250
  • Publisher: Council Oak Books
  • Publication date: 6/15/2010
  • Pages: 258
  • Sales rank: 1,470,140
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Barnaby Conrad is famed for his classic bullfighting novel, Matador, and for a career as a novelist, memoirist, night club owner and portrait artist. Conrad served as a war-time diplomat in Spain from 1944-46, where he was an amateur bullfighter. Five of his non-fiction books, including La Fiesta Brava, Gates of Fear, and The Death of Manolete, chronicle that deadly ballet between man and beast.

Among Conrad’s many books are Dangerfield, about a great American author in his twilight years; A Revolting Transaction, about the Victorian era murder of his great-grandmother; Name Dropping, a memoir of his star-studded 1950’s San Francisco night club, El Matador; and the World War Two thriller, Last Boat to Cadiz. The author and his wife, Mary, are founders of the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, now in its fourth decade.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 21, 2010

    A thoughtful and fun historical fiction

    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.

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