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)
I read many of the customer reviews prior to downloading this book so I was prepared for the "mousey" voice of the author/narrator and while it was a bit distracting at first, it didn't spoil the experience of what is a well researched and somewhat humorous book on a facinating, if not macabre topic. Unfortunately, the author's obviously biased political views and her tendancy to paint everyone who isn't a fairly left-leaning Liberal with the broad brush of being "misguided" I found to be tiresome. I don't recommend this one unless you are prepared to filter through the political opinions and personal beliefs to get to the interesting facts.
Take out the constant references to George Bush and the Iraq war and she could have covered much more detail. I bought the book to review history not a lecture on the present state of affairs!
This was a great read(Listen). Well worth the time. I found myself sitting in my car after arriving at my destination to learn more wacky history as told by the author. Bravo.
Obscure, delightful, poetic and hilarious - I would buy, read, watch and listen to anything by Sarah Vowell. She makes me proud to be an American. This is the best thing I have ever listened to from Audible. Do yourself a favor and get this one.
This book suffers badly from the author reading it herself. There was never much inflection in her voice, mostly annoying and monotone. If it were read by someone else, I may have rated it higher.
Great listen while trying to sleep.
I'm going to purchase the book, as much of the book was interesting.
Yes, I did. I found it oddly beautiful, a tid creepy now and then, and wierdly poetic. It gave a fine view, and offered itself up as a starting place to think of so much else. Oh, and it is funny. Thanks Sarah.
I don't think anybody realizes that Sarah Vowel was the voice of the daughter Violet in the Pixar movie "The Incredibles." A video essay of hers called "Vowellette" is featured on the DVD, and she is hilarious in it and very smart. Based on that, I am definitely buying this book.
This is horrible. I have only finished 1 hour of it, and I have come to that conclusion; actually I knew after 2 minutes, but I was hoping it would get better. The author may have had better luck if she had someone else narrate the book, but honestly I'm not sure that would hide the terrible sarcasm/wit she was trying to achieve. The narrator/author's voice is reminiscent of a simpleton reading an unknown passage (which shouldn't be to the author) with a Jr. High School voice and inflection. Just horrible.
This book might be construed as false advertising. I was looking for a different, humorous read and thought Ms. Vowell might be just the thing. However, it only took about 3 minutes of the book for her to start bashing President Bush. Thanks, but no thanks. If I want political commentary, I'll look in the political section. Very misleading, but now I get the title.
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