Dress up, pseudo-intellectuals, because it's time for an evening out at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. But tonight's performance won't be your standard fare. Instead, we'll be spending some time with noted actor and presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth.
Booth wasn't in the cast on the fateful evening when President Lincoln and his wife went to see "Our American Cousin." But Booth certainly crashed the show when he shot Lincoln, made a daring leap from the president's box to the stage below and, with dagger in hand, announced to the audience with considerable flourish, "Sic semper tyrannis." (Thus always to tyrants!)
Booth then exited the Ford's Theater and made his escape on a horse.
It all happened in a heartbeat, so fast that some in the audience thought it was part of the show while others remained frozen in their seats as Lincoln's killer fled.
But there was much more to the Lincoln assassination that just the act itself, and that's why "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies" by Michael Kauffman is the latest choice of this pseudo-intellectual conspiracy theorist.
Booth, a Marylander whose loyalty was to the South, is the main character in this tale of conspiracy and intrigue. But while the leading character, he's not the only character in the planning and plotting that preceded the conspiracy.
A famed actor whose travels took him far and wide, Booth's contacts have never been fully determined. Further, the motives may have been known only to him.
Was he the ringleader of a plot to kidnap President Lincoln in the waning days of the Civil War? Or was that just a cover story designed to obscure the real plan, the decapitation of the government through simultaneous assassinations of President Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward?
Whatever the plan was, the story is well told and the details elaborate in "American Brutus." It's certainly worth the attention of Lincoln buffs as well as others interested in the details behind of one this country's most foul deeds.
Here are revious recommendations from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club:
[–] "Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission" by Hampton Sides.
[–] "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris.
[–] "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord.
[–] "April 1865: The Month That Saved America" by Jay Winik.
[–] "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand.
[–) "Lindbergh" by A. Scott Berg.
[–] "The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963" by Laurence Leamer.
[–] "The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case" by Sam Roberts.
[–] "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy.
[–] "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich.
[–] "Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World" by Steve Neal.
[–] "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis.
[–] "Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone" by Martin Dugard.
[–] "In Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors" by Doug Stanton.
[–] "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34." by Bryan Burrough.
[–] "Flags of our Fathers," by James Bradley.
[–] "Cary Grant: A Biography" by Marc Elliot.
[–] "Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager" by Buzz Bissinger.
[–] "Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York" by Kenneth Ackerman.
[–] "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967" by David Maraniss.
[–] "Flashman" (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.
[–] "Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink" by David Margolick.
[–] "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City" by Jonathan Mahler.
[–] "Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" by Selwyn Raab.
[–] "The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball." by John Taylor.