Ever wonder about that guy John Wilkes Booth? Sure, your history teacher in grade school told you about Lincoln and then ends the lecture with “and then, while at Ford’s theatre, a man name John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln.” What John Wilkes Booth a crazy deranged person or did his actions have real meaning?
American Brutus by Michael W. Kauffman sets out to tell of John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. The first comment that I have about this book is that it is written very well. It is written like it should be a mystery thriller. It keeps the reader entertained even though we know what happens to Lincoln. It keeps the reader interested and had you changed the names of the people in the book, you would have thought it was a fiction novel, not a history book.
John Wilkes Booth was a very handsome smart man. He believed that Lincoln was a tyrant and like I have book reviewed on my other blog, I do not disagree with Mr. Booth. Booth thought that like Brutus versus Caesar, it was his job to try and save the republic. What is really interesting is the fact that he was a very successful actor and was considered one of the most handsome men in America at that time. So imagine George Clooney assassinating the President.
Sure, he was a southern sympathizer and people debate how racist he really was but the truth of the matter is that he thought Lincoln was abusing the Constitution and he was. Now, I am not saying that murder is justified in this case but what I am saying is that he had a clear logical thought out plan. In fact, his original plan was to kidnap Lincoln and hold him hostage. It was an elaborate plot that most American’s do not hear about in history books.
The book also does a good job of setting the scene back then and no one cannot deny that the Civil War was a time for big change in American politics and society. Some changes would happen much later but one of the most interesting things I found near the end of the book is the trial of the conspirators and their defense about murder. Murder back then was not federally illegal and it usually was a crime against local authority. It may not seem like a big deal to some but today many Americans could not imagine murder not being mandated illegal.
Overall, this book is a great read. It gives you the full story behind John Wilkes Booth and fills in a lot of history that your grade school teacher did not teach. One thing is for sure though, this book reads like a thriller and even if the reader is not that interested in history or history books, they will still be captivated by the story. Honestly, someone should base a movie off of this book.