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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

4.2 (2951 )
5 star
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4.3 (1356 )
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Performance
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  •  
    John Pleasanton, CA, USA 06-29-05
    John Pleasanton, CA, USA 06-29-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    10 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Baker Amsterdam, Netherlands 06-28-05
    A. Baker Amsterdam, Netherlands 06-28-05 Member Since 2008

    Andy Baker

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History Made Fun"

    Yes, she's a total Lefty. Yes, her voice can sometimes be a little too much. And yes, her editor could have been a little more heavy handed with the cute bits. But Sarah Vowel is really smart and the way she links historical events is absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed it and I am listening to it a second time. It's history made fun. With a side of Republican bashing - lekker!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Tampa, FL, USA 06-26-05
    Jim Tampa, FL, USA 06-26-05 Member Since 2012
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    "History CAN be fun!"

    I was never a big fan of history... all those names and dates are mind boggling, especially when offered in the typical cold and unpassionate style of most biographical material. Ms. Vowell makes learning about these events fun (and funny) and most importanty - easy to relate to and memorable. Her voice is a bit grating (thus, not the full 5 stars)... but, much like comedian Steven Wright, it may not have worked any other way.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lara Princeton, NJ, USA 06-10-05
    Lara Princeton, NJ, USA 06-10-05 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    7
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    "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
  •  
    David Sterling, VA, USA 06-04-05
    David Sterling, VA, USA 06-04-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Get someone else to read it."

    In The Incredibles her whiney voice is cute. After 1 hour I had had enough. Just couldn't finish it.

    8 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    thos-lg Lemon Grove, CA 05-31-05
    thos-lg Lemon Grove, CA 05-31-05 Member Since 2006

    thossmith

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sarah Vowell is one of the best..."

    It is a true joy to listen to Sarah Vowell narrate her text. Not only is she witty with her words, but her voice sets off her writing in a way that no other could match. Sarah's narration of "Assassination Vacation" makes history interesting and takes it to a very personal level. This is one of the best audio books I have ever listened to.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 05-30-05
    William 05-30-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrible narration"

    Great subject completely mishandled. Three flaws: (1)the narration makes this impossible to listen to. Authors with this type whiney voice should never mar their works by wanting to deliver them verbally. (2)The material was presented in a haphazard and unconnected manner. If the author had an organization to it, it never came out. (3) The senseless political repartee scattered throughout the book was childish.

    8 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cliff Security, CO, USA 05-04-05
    Cliff Security, CO, USA 05-04-05
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    "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
  •  
    Chris Harrisonville, MO, USA 06-22-07
    Chris Harrisonville, MO, USA 06-22-07 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting but frustrating"

    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.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Hamtramck, MI, USA 05-16-05
    Christopher Hamtramck, MI, USA 05-16-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dry as sand but much funnier"

    This plain-spoken, dead pan humorist takes you by surprise in a similar way that David Sedaris does. There is absolutely nothing flashy about her, and her cracks are delivered with as straight a face as her cold hard facts about the killing of presidents. I found myself wondering how she ever got people to listen to her in the first place. Thank goodness someone did! She is proof that not just the obnoxious, crude or outrageous can capture the spotlight.

    This book will teach you as well as entertain you. It will endear you to the author as much as it endears you to Lincoln; it will also turn you against Wm. McKinley, who may rival Bush for his love of violence and manipulation.

    If you enjoy Sedaris, books that take you on a literal journey like those of Bill Bryson or Michael Palin, or Jon Stewart's America, this should be your next book. So why 4 stars? Honestly, this book is a notch below some of the aforementioned.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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