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Assassination Vacation Audiobook

Assassination Vacation

Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other, a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.
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Publisher's Summary

Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other, a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Multi-Voiced Performance
  • 2005 Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, Humor

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2629 )
5 star
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4.3 (1043 )
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4.3 (1055 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    G Nevada City, CA, USA 04-18-06
    G Nevada City, CA, USA 04-18-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    "Too much for me..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Gallipolis, OH, USA 03-25-06
    Timothy Gallipolis, OH, USA 03-25-06 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "History for history haters?"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Albuquerque, NM, USA 03-01-06
    Mary Albuquerque, NM, USA 03-01-06 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    "the best"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saranam Framingham, MA USA 12-22-05
    Saranam Framingham, MA USA 12-22-05 Member Since 2015

    the Soprano

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    10
    2
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    0
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    "loved it!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Runkles-Pearson Portland, Oregon 11-03-05
    P. Runkles-Pearson Portland, Oregon 11-03-05 Member Since 2015

    knitting lawyer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
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    4
    4
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    0
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    Overall
    "First-rate"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Valley Village, CA, United States 10-22-05
    Lisa Valley Village, CA, United States 10-22-05 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
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    70
    11
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    1
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    "Fun if you are interested in American History"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Bow, WA, USA 09-08-05
    Tim Bow, WA, USA 09-08-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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    11
    5
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    0
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    "a good one"

    A good book; entertaining and interesting. Some say the author's voice is a little irritating, but I liked it. It was like having my niece read for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lara Princeton, NJ, USA 06-10-05
    Lara Princeton, NJ, USA 06-10-05 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    Overall
    "A new appreciation for President Garfield"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cliff Security, CO, USA 05-04-05
    Cliff Security, CO, USA 05-04-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "A must for people concerned with CURRENT events"

    Like the previous reviewer I reserve 5 stars for the best and I give this 5 stars. Ms. Vowell brings to the listener what are obscure historical facts to most of us in such an entertaining way you don?t realize you are learning something. That is the mark of a master teacher. Her commentary on the current political events in our time and how they relate to past historical events is most insightful. Even if you don?t share her political views, her oratory will make you stop and think about your own beliefs. We as a nation need to do more of this introspection and Ms Vowell is an excellent guide. I also highly recommend ?The Partly Cloudy Patriot? by the author.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Pleasanton, CA, USA 06-29-05
    John Pleasanton, CA, USA 06-29-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    71
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Terrible"

    It's sounds like Lisa Simpson of the Simpson's cartoon show reading a book that shes never read before. Could not finish it.

    9 of 19 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    Harlow Essex England
    8/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A lovely story about assassination and family"
    What did you like most about Assassination Vacation?

    The little details.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Assassination Vacation?

    Robert Todd Lincoln rejuvenating the life of the brother of the murderer of the his father.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    See above


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Robert Todd Lincoln's fear of presidential death


    Any additional comments?

    These are lovely books telling a story we only hear mentioned.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • G. Evans
    England, UK
    6/12/11
    Overall
    "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 :(

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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