American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies

American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies

by Michael W. Kauffman
4.6 22

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American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies by Michael W. Kauffman

It is a tale as familiar as our history primers: A deranged actor, John Wilkes Booth, killed Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre, escaped on foot, and eluded capture for twelve days until he met his fiery end in a Virginia tobacco barn. In the national hysteria that followed, eight others were arrested and tried; four of those were executed, four imprisoned. Therein lie all the classic elements of a great thriller. But the untold tale is even more fascinating.

Now, in American Brutus, Michael W. Kauffman, one of the foremost Lincoln assassination authorities, takes familiar history to a deeper level, offering an unprecedented, authoritative account of the Lincoln murder conspiracy. Working from a staggering array of archival sources and new research, Kauffman sheds new light on the background and motives of John Wilkes Booth, the mechanics of his plot to topple the Union government, and the trials and fates of the conspirators.

Piece by piece, Kauffman explains and corrects common misperceptions and analyzes the political motivation behind Booth’s plan to unseat Lincoln, in whom the assassin saw a treacherous autocrat, “an American Caesar.” In preparing his study, Kauffman spared no effort getting at the truth: He even lived in Booth’s house, and re-created key parts of Booth’s escape. Thanks to Kauffman’s discoveries, readers will have a new understanding of this defining event in our nation’s history, and they will come to see how public sentiment about Booth at the time of the assassination and ever since has made an accurate account of his actions and motives next to impossible–until now.

In nearly 140 years there has been an overwhelming body of literature on the Lincoln assassination, much of it incomplete and oftentimes contradictory. In American Brutus, Kauffman finally makes sense of an incident whose causes and effects reverberate to this day. Provocative, absorbing, utterly cogent, at times controversial, this will become the definitive text on a watershed event in American history.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307430618
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 14,010
File size: 38 MB
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About the Author

MICHAEL W. KAUFFMAN is a political historian and graduate of the University of Virginia who has studied the Lincoln assassination for more than thirty years. He has appeared on A&E, the History Channel, C-SPAN, and the Learning Channel, and was called to testify as an expert witness in the 1995 Booth exhumation hearings. He lives in southern Maryland.

From the Hardcover edition.

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American Brutus 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of all the books on the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth, this one stands out as being the best.Once I started reading, I found it difficult to put down. Several years ago, I had the priviledge of going on a Booth escape tour with the author, Michael Kauffman, and discovered his knowledge of the subject is amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael W. Kauffman presents a completely different aspect of the Lincoln assassination in this book. Although there was no new information presented, the time frame and original records are woven together in an incredibly precise way, despite the lack of organization in the initial police reports. Unlike some historical authors, Kauffman does not just present you with the facts and send you on your way. Instead, he presents a psychological and in-depth look at every turn along with the facts.In the end, as Kauffman so wonderfully puts it, 'Booth immortalized himself by making one of history's greatest the process, he accomplished what every actor aspires to do: he made us all wonder where the play ended and reality began.' This book was highly informative and served as an eye-opener as to just how narrow-minded I can be. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes to get sucked into a good book...which I'm hoping, is every reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I am not an avid historian and generally prefer non-fiction but, this book kind of found me (my son was doing a Lincoln report) and I read it with all of my free time in a few days. I hated to stop reading it. Basically, it is chronologically correct and tells who was standing where, who was doing what and why it mattered. The glimpse into JWB was historically fascinating. My favorite tidbit is that Booth actually lay in the Lincoln 'deathbed' a few days before the shooting (hope Lincoln's shooting is not a spoiler, for you!) If you are a Lincoln expert, you're on your own to see if this book is good for you. But, as a lay-person to the assassination (I have read a few books on the Civil War but, not the shooting), I was riveted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Incredibly detailed, yet so easy to read. You will be hooked immediately. He gives a ton of new information and dispells old myths; painting an incredibly clear picture of how it all happened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kauffman really did his homework on this book. Takes you a step further from you typical Booth read. I was very pleased with the details this book offers. Gets you into Booth's way of thinking as well as those around him. Enjoyed this book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
140 years have gone by and we're still fascinated with that long ago April night.Michael Kauffman has written what is probably one of the better works on the Lincoln assassination in recent year.In gripping detail he describes the chaos in Ford's theatre after Lincoln is shot.He uses sources from actors and audience members alike.Mr. Kauffman also gives a detailed account of Booth's early years and the reasons for his Southern sympathies.It's also made clear that Booth and not the Confederate Secret Service conjured the plot to kill Lincoln,only after attempts to kidnap him had failed.Up until Richmond fell Booth wanted to only kidnap Lincoln, deliver him to Pres. Davis and use him as a bargaining chip to get the Union to surrender.It's only after Lee surrenders that Booth decides that he will strike a final blow for the South.What interested me the most was how Booth was able to manipulate the other conspirators into his plot withot telling them anything.I could go on but I won't.The only thing I will say is that Booth did not escape to India or live elsewhere in the U.S.A. under an assumed name.
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TTCapsule More than 1 year ago
The book is extremely well written and organized, and very (for want of a better word) entertaining. It is an excellent read. The e-format leaves something to be desired. I purchased the version for Nook, and the Notes section is unacceptable. The notes are not numbered to correspond with the numbers in the text, so you have to count through from the beginning if you don't read them all in sequence. There is no "Back" key available, or linking between the text superscript and the note, a system a lot of the better e-books have now incorporated (see Pete Townsend's autobiography for an excellent example). And the notes themselves are jumbled, like badly formatted text imported into a word processing program, which makes them more difficult to decipher than the information warrants.
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Russell_Kirk More than 1 year ago
Well written and researched for a period of time that controls much of occurs today. Was it a government conspiracy of the South or of the industrialists of the North? Did the Union conquest of the South guarantee Lincoln a future third term as President that led to his assassination? Kauffman's American Brutus is a must read for history buffs of this era.
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cookiebookie More than 1 year ago
There can be no better title for this review. As an avid Civil War era scholar I have read more books than I can tally, this is one of the best ones ever read. From the exhautive research to the stirring narrative Mr. Kaufman has written a diffinative work. That I learned a great deal about John Wilkes Booth is not the only accolade I give this volume. It is a page turning, riveting account of the entire "plot" to rid the country of Lincoln with all its twists and turns and ultimate surprises. If one has not read this yet now is the time and it is a must for a permanet library. Kudos to Mr. Kauffman for this very great addition to civil war literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book, it told me a lot of things i never knew about the Lincoln assassination. The only thing I didn't like about it was there was WAY too many names to keep up with. Most of the time i forgot who the person was they were talking about. But if you like history i really recommend this book its well written and in depth. Overall a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sophiesmom More than 1 year ago
American Brutus was published in 2004 and I bought a copy. Since then, I have re-read it several times. It is an outstanding book--the best of all the books I have read on Booth and the assassination of President Lincoln. The book was the basis for a History Channel special called "The Hunt For John Wilkes Booth." Mr. Kauffman has done thorough research and the way in which he details all the events surrounding the night of April 14, 1865 are spellbinding. I highly recommend American Brutus to anyone who is interested in President Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.
The_Hawk More than 1 year ago
Reads like a novel. Very well researched with lots of facts and details.