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Assassination Vacation Audiobook

Assassination Vacation

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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 (2736 )
5 star
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4.3 (1142 )
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4.3 (1155 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (54)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Cora Judd 08-19-07
    Cora Judd 08-19-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    512
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    271
    38
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    34
    0
    Overall
    "full of heart"

    What a fun book; droll and super-interesting. The reader is a pitch perfect match for Vowell's writing voice. Not for listening to while otherwise occupied -- it requires full focus. I'll listen to this one again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Reading, MA, USA 04-11-07
    Sarah Reading, MA, USA 04-11-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    3
    Overall
    "Good, but my mind drifted a bit"

    Good, but my mind drifted a bit. Although Sarah Vowell is often quite funny.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim North Hollywood, CA, USA 01-19-07
    Jim North Hollywood, CA, USA 01-19-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "A lot of that voice"

    I've always liked the author on the radio or in TV bits, but wow. Listening to that voice for this long... wow. I know she makes fun of herself for being psychotically interested in minute details of assassinations, but since I'm not that interested in where an assassin did his laundry, the novelty ran out quick.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Chavez Huntington Beach, CA USA 12-08-06
    P. Chavez Huntington Beach, CA USA 12-08-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    118
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    567
    37
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    3
    4
    Overall
    "Love her humor"

    Sarah Vowell is smart and funny and so are her books. I enjoy her point of view and her ability to see the absurd. She really brings an insight to our countries history that is not taught in schools and I love her little squeaky voice!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Redwood City, CA, USA 07-26-06
    Nicole Redwood City, CA, USA 07-26-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Quirky"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessie Raleigh, New Caledonia 04-19-06
    Jessie Raleigh, New Caledonia 04-19-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "I love sarah, but..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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    8
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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
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    0
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    Overall
    "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
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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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