Both my husband and I listened to this book, as did our children when they were forced to in the car. Agreed, her delivery is a bit odd, and her voice takes a bit of getting used to, but I learned more US history (which says a lot, since that was my minor in university) from the 5 hours of this book than I learned in an entire university course. The depth of her knowledge on this topic is extensive, and her patriotism -- being defined as a true love for her country, not the flag-waving, blind devotion to AMERICA that the Right seems to define as the only "true" patriotism -- is undeniable. Her quirky humour kept me laughing, and the historical trivia kept me riveted through four or five straight days of commuting. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a different perspective on American history -- should be a hit with fans of Jon Stewart!
I learned more about Lincoln, Garfield (who?) and McKinley than I ever imagined. The stories of the assassins themselves and their motives, backgrounds and post-shooting history was a step back into an Americana that possesses many surprising similarities to today's America.
Unfortunately, listening to the narrator's voice was so painful for me. I slugged through it with only one break to hear what was coming next because I was on a plane; if I had several breaks, I would've been tempted at any time to not continue, just to avoid that voice! Lisa Simpson-esque, full of awkward starts and stops and pauses -- DEFINITELY listen to the sample first (I didn't).
This was an interesting quasi-history book. I say "quasi" because it is not a dry, objective history, but more of a narrative of the author's experience learning the history of some presidential assassinations. She infuses a lot of her personality into the history, which is generally interesting, funny, and mostly witty, but gets a little annoying toward the end. She also has a really annoying voice, and despite the "full cast" badge, she narrates 99.9% of it personally with a tiny smattering of the other credited narrators here and there.
This book is a compelling account of Vowell's personal relationship with American history, of course mixed with info on the assassinations and the events surrounding them. Vowell's writing style of personal and historical tangents might put some people off, but this isn't a conventional history tome and shouldn't be treated as such. Vowell has a very cute voice too, so listening to her (and the dozen other readers thrown in) is quite enjoyable. This is a great audiobook for history-lovers and average readers alike.
Ms. Vowell's narrative voice isn't for everyone but if you give it a chance you'll think that no one else should be narrating this very funny, clever and thorough history of presidential assassinations. She has traveled to every place that has any connection with her subject and her observations of the sites, information and above all, human nature, are wonderful. This is the second time I've listened to it and I could listen again, not only for the learning aspect, but because Ms. Vowell is such good fun to listen to. If you think you know all you've ever need to know about presidential assassinations, think again. Here is the ultimate source, told in a very personal and entertaining manner. Ms. Vowell never takes herself seriously, either. Though the title seems grim and macabre, the book is anything but.
Go along for the ride. You'll be glad you did.
This book was a joy to listen to, not only for Sarah Vowell's wonderfuly, quirky, and satisfyingly dissatisfied-with-our-current-administration perspective, but for the great introduction to our lesser known presidential assassins (and even those well known presidents' lesser known stories) And I say "introduction" even though I did go to high school, because once you've listened to them in this way, you actually feel like you've been introduced to them, and developed an interest in them, for the first time. And then of course there is Vowell's completely fabulous delivery. Having her talking in my ear while I weeded the garden, cleaned the house, and walked my dog was a total joy. I actually PROLONGUED any task I was doing, I was having so much fun. Thank you, Sarah, and thank you, Audible. MORE Sarah Vowell please!
to be like "The Partly Cloudy" Patriot or "This American Life". Make no mistake, this is a history book. While I admit that a few hours of her voice is grating, her narration does draw you into amazing true stories she lays out for us. REALLY amazing insight and a genuine appreciate for the subject matter. You get the feeling she's been waiting to write this for sometime. I really enjoyed it and plan on reading Manhunt and Team of Rivals soon just to learn a little more. I agree with the previous poster. History for people who don't like history.
"Assassination Vacation" was the first audiobook I was consistently excited to listen to when I got into my car at night to face the harrowing L.A. rush-hour traffic. I'm a Vowell fan, having enjoyed both her previous book ("The Partly Cloudy Patriot") and her appearances on "This American Life," and this book proved just as funny, entertaining, and informative as everything else Vowell writes.
I've never been a history buff, but I was riveted by this book. the stories of the strange circumstances surrounding Lincoln's assassination were particularly interesting, as was the section about Charles Gaiteau and the Oneida sex cult. I came home every night brimming with historical tidbits, and was constantly regaling my friends with anecdotes from Vowell's book.
Sarah Vowell's voice might be a bit hard for some to take, but I didn't have any problem with it. I've recommended this book to pretty much everyone I talk to.
I was never a big fan of history... all those names and dates are mind boggling, especially when offered in the typical cold and unpassionate style of most biographical material. Ms. Vowell makes learning about these events fun (and funny) and most importanty - easy to relate to and memorable. Her voice is a bit grating (thus, not the full 5 stars)... but, much like comedian Steven Wright, it may not have worked any other way.
If history 3101 had been taught like this, then I would not have slept through it. What makes this so intriguing is that the author tells the story behind the story. For example....always heard that Mary Todd Lincoln was a mad woman, as in 'insane.' After hearing what led up to this description, I know realize she was a mad (as in 'as mad as an old wet hen') woman. And I don't blame her! Great read. I'm looking for more from this author.