From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue, it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and, the author's favorite, historical tourism.
Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are lighter diversions into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a 19th-century biblical sex cult.
In Order of Appearance:
Conan O'Brien...Robert Todd Lincoln
Eric Bogosian...John Wilkes Booth
Stephen King...President Abraham Lincoln
Dave Eggers...Mike Ryan
Catherine Keener...Gretchen Worden
Jon Stewart...President James A. Garfield
Tony Kushner...John Humphrey Noyes
Brad Bird...Charles Guiteau & Emma Goldman
Daniel Handler...President William McKinley
Greg Giraldo...President Theodore Roosevelt
David Rakoff...Leon Czolgosz
©2005 Sarah Vowell; (P)2005 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
"Vowell has a perspective on American history that is definitely funny." (School Library Journal)
"Wacky, weirdly enthralling....This is history at its most morbid and most fascinating and, fortunately, one needn't share Vowell's interest in the macabre to thoroughly enjoy this unusual tour." (Publishers Weekly)
"An engaging tour....Audiobook listeners get serious bang for their buck, including guest appearances by Stephen King (as Lincoln), Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, and Eric Bogosian, among others." (AudioFile)
Really enjoyed this.
While Sara's voice may be grating to some, I really felt that her enthusiasm for the subject came thru, which is why I disagree with the idea it's better read; her voice is quirky which helps give a sense of the personality of a person who would go on such a "vacation". Frankly, I found the use of the other voices more distracting and not as well executed (just broke up the narrative at times and not as well utilized). I thought Bogasian was great, O'Brien very good if only for the fact I didn't recognize him, but as I listened I could see Jon Stewart behind his TDS desk doing a presidential impression. Took me out of it a bit.
I found the stories interesting; I liked how she presented the ironic twists of historical fate. On numerous occassions, I laughed out loud.
Although I don't agree with all her personal views and despite the comedic tones, it's clear she has a deep respect for the subject.
for some reason, this one didn't do it for me. I love Sarah Vowell, love her quirky voice and speaking style, and lefty, atheist ways. I very much enjoyed Partly Cloudy Patriot, but this one I just never really got into. It definitely made history more enjoyable than usual, but not so much that I was looking forward to each listening opportunity, which is what usually happens when I'm really enjoying an audio book. Still, I look forward to her next one.
I like the author and find her other work good. This book is good, but I am not enough of an assasination history fan to stick this out. I think it's too creepy.
I've never liked nor had an aptitude for history, mainly because names and dates and places just get jumbled in my head. They seemed dried and boring.
Having seen Vowell on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the book intrigued me and was my first Audiobook purchase. I enjoyed it so much I came back and bought a membership.
The book is up for an award, and rightly so. Even History Haters can enjoy this, and Vowell's self-professed skewed view on the world is delightful.
One note: the list of "Guest Stars" made me wonder if they each narrated a chapter. They do not. Vowell narrates the whole thing, and the guest stars are used for relevant quotations where appropriate. I rather enjoyed this and would have purchased the book sooner had I realized that she was the narrator.
Simply the most engaging, intelligent, entertaining audiobook as read by its genial, sardonic, wry, engaging writer. If wishing for a new chapter didn't involve treason, oh, well. . . . Please give us more books immediately, and thank you for the two you have.
I'm just geeky enough to think it would be really fun to drive Sarah Vowell to Grant's tomb or something. I learned a lot about the Presidential assassinations I never knew, and it came complete with the author's quirky voice and sense of humor.
This is my favorite audiobook that I have downloaded from Audible, and my first exposure to Sarah Vowell. I love it! I have listened to it several times. It's funny, informative, and quirky. This book is as much about Ms. Vowell's strange fascination with history and presidential assassinations as it is about this history itself. It's nice to hear from someone who's not afraid to display enthusiasm for history and to make it come alive. Two caveats: First, As other reviewers have noted, this book has a very definite political viewpoint. If you don't share it, you might not enjoy this book. Second, Ms. Vowell has a very unique voice. Although I got used to it, not everyone might. To make sure that you can, check out the audio sample before downloading.
This book isn't as humorous as I had hoped, but it is highly interesting for people who like tidbits about American history that you don't learn in school. The author's voice is a bit odd, but that is what she is known for--especially from her radio appearances. I found it appealing--like a good friend who you can smile with. I was more interested in the details of the Lincoln assasination over Garfield's, for instance, but--poor Garfield--nobody ever remembers the guy.
With her NPR experience, Sarah Vowell is a marvelous reader of her own material. The other readers who dramatize portions of dialogue are inspired choices. Who else would have thought of Stephen King as Abraham Lincoln? And Jon Stewart has given me a whole new appreciation of James Garfield. The fellow who does Charles Giteau is unnervingly good. You won't soon forget his performance. Ms. Vowell really needs to start writing more history books in her own conversational, fun, warm style.
"A lovely story about assassination and family"
The little details.
Robert Todd Lincoln rejuvenating the life of the brother of the murderer of the his father.
Robert Todd Lincoln's fear of presidential death
These are lovely books telling a story we only hear mentioned.
"Hard to follow..."
I really bought this for the grim but light hearted look on the history of presidential assasinations that this book promised as well as the fact that it has many famous narrators. Unfortunately the main narrator has a very distinctive voice which after a while, and bearing in mind this might just be me, but it does begin to grate a little. In fact after a about 5 hours i found that i could not concentrate on the audio because of how her voice comes across. Also, unless your listening really hard you do miss most of the other voices of the other people - theres no announcement they just come in say there bit and then disappear. I also felt that many of the wacky anecdotes seemed to be crushed together with no split or pause between them and i never knew which president she was referring to and at what time. I may have to give this another listen as I was fairly interested in the topic but for now my rating remains at a low one star :(
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