The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is a central drama of the American experience. Its impact is felt to this day, and the basic story is known to all. Anthony Pitch's thrilling account of the Lincoln conspiracy and its aftermath transcends the mere facts of that awful night during which dashing actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head and would-be assassin Lewis Payne butchered Secretary of State William Seward in the bed of his own home. "They Have Killed Papa Dead!" transports the listener to one of the most breathtaking moments in history, and reveals much that is new about the stories, passions, and times of those who shaped this great tragedy. Virtually every word of Anthony Pitch's account is based on primary source material: new quotes from previously unpublished diaries, letters and journals - authentic, contemporary voices writing with freshness and clarity as eyewitnesses or intimate participants, providing new images, a new vision, and new understanding of one of America's defining moments.
With an unwavering fidelity to historical accuracy, Pitch provides new confirmation of threats against the president-elect's life as he traveled to Washington by train for his first inauguration, and a vivid personal account of John Wilkes Booth being physically restrained from approaching Lincoln at his second inauguration. Perhaps most chillingly, new details come to light about conditions in the special prison where the civilian conspirators accused of participating in the Lincoln assassination endured tortuous conditions in extreme isolation and deprivation, hooded and shackled, before and even during their military trial.
Pitch masterfully synthesizes the findings of his prodigious research into a tight, gripping narrative that adds important new insights to our national story.
©2008 Anthony S. Pitch (P)2011 Ernest W. Fleischer
"No reader will come away unmoved, even at this distance, by anguish about the event. The author elicits our feelings for even the plotters in captivity and on the scaffold. A real page-turner about real history." (Publishers Weekly)
"Pitch has come up with the best title of the year, taken from Tad Lincoln's piteous cries upon learning of his father's assassination by John Wilkes Booth. This is an intense, vivid and moving portrayal of a family (and a country) brutally deprived of its leader." (Chicago Tribune)
"The next best thing to being there is reading Anthony Pitch's They Have Killed Papa Dead!': The Road to Ford’s Theatre, Abraham Lincoln’s Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance. He writes about the desperate efforts to protect the president, who was always in danger, plus the devastating grief and cruel injustice that came after Lincoln’s death." (Christian Science Monitor)
A wonderful book about the Lincoln assassination - meticulously researched, beautifully written, compellingly read by Milton Bagby. Its canvas is wide: the assassination itself is about the midpoint of the book (a bit like Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"); the rest of the book recounts, in a sometimes electrifying narrative, the efforts of investigators to piece the story together, arrest the conspirators, track down John Wilkes Booth, and put the conspirators on trial.
There was more than one miscarriage of justice in the aftermath. Some who were only tangentially involved, like Samuel Mudd or Mary Surratt, were given extremely harsh sentences (in Mrs Surratt's case, death by hanging). John Surratt, on the other hand - Mary's son, who was more intimately involved with the conspiracy but who managed to elude capture for two years - went free after a hung jury.
Pitch's focus throughout the book is on the human cost of the tragedy. He has a broad sympathy for all the participants: even Booth manages to elicit some sympathy in his last days and hours.
I've read and listened to several books on the topic, starting with Jim Bishop's "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" some 40 years ago. This is the most accurate, balanced, comprehensive, and readable of the lot. I would highly recommend it as the first place to go for an account of the Lincoln assassination. And I'll definitely be looking for other books from the same author and the same narrator.
This is worth listening to multiple times as there is so much to this story that you cannot absorb it all at once.
I have read the book than listened to it and listening to it brought all the characters and the flavor of the time to life. You become part of the story rather than an outsider looking in
When Lincoln started to understand how he needed to use his Presidency to change history.
This makes book makes a history lesson come alive!
The story of Abraham Lincoln's assassination is not new, but it is fascinating and amazingly dramatic. This performance brings out all those elements. it brings history alive due to the narrator's dramatization and voicing of the various characters.
The story is the story. What makes the difference is the performance.
No I haven't heard his other performances.
I was entranced in the performance of the book, I listened in the car, in the house, in bed, etc. I knew what was going to happen, but I needed to hear this performance of it.
I have read several accounts of Lincoln's murder, but this one contained many more details of the time leading up to that night, the night itself and the weeks thereafter, as well as those who were involved on both sides of the law. Mr. Pitch masterfully recounts these details to the extent that I could practically feel myself on site as an observer.
As a narrator, Milton Bagby did a superb job. This is a narrative full of intricacies, personalities and emotions, and he kept all the threads of these where they belonged as he wove them together following Mr. Pitch's pattern. His delivery was smooth, appropriately modulated, emotionally correct, and subtly -- but definitively -- varied between the characters.
Between the writing and the narration, it was easy to remain engaged with and entertained by this book.
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