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 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.
It's hard to describe how much I hated this book. It had so much potential, and the celebrities and authors who did cameo appearances are some of my favorites. But this book was a flop from start to finish. First, the author/narrator's voice is grating. The guest appearances are awkward. The subject matter is fairly interesting, but not presented in a fresh or amusing way. The author is heavy handed in injecting her political views into the piece and insulting those who are not in lock-step agreement. She is the most painfully politically correct author I've ever encountered (she was aghast when a church choir of 30 only had two African American members) I am not a religious person, but even I found her derisive tone when discussing religion offensive. Overall, I wasted a lot of time listening to this book hoping it would get better and that I would at least learn something, and I'd like that time back.
Since joining Audible last year, I have been rediscovering a love of history. Unfortunately, this book just doesn't do it for me. Not only is the voice annoying, but the content includes many politically slanted conclusions that distract from her obsession with assassinations. I wish I had sampled it first.
The narrator's voice is horrible. It is read by the author. I should have listened to the preview before I bought this.
This book would be really great, if it had been written by someone else. Someone who doesn't constantly criticize others (everyone from school girls to senior citizens) and throw in her personal political viewpoint. The material is great, but the snide tone of the author and the IRRITATING voice of the narrator made this a painful listen.
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