Mint In the Box!

12 04 2012

Much was made recently of the decisions of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum and the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor’s Center to sell a John Wilkes Booth bobblehead doll action figure in their gift shops, and the subsequent decisions of those entities to discontinue the sales of the item in the wake of a public outcry. I, of course, could not resist the opportunity to get one for my library. It came today. I think some of the earlier stories manipulated JWB by purposely tilting his wobbly noggin in such a way as to make him, somehow, more sinister in appearance. With his head on straight, he doesn’t look any crazier than Senator Jim Lane of Kansas.

In All His Assassinistic Glory!

Mint In the Box!

Did You Know?

A Teaching Tool!

Ford’s Theater

2 02 2012

As part of my little tour of Washington, D. C. back in June 2011, I walked over to Ford’s Theater. I’d never been there before. The current complex has a much larger footprint today, but you can still make out the original building (click on all the below images for larger ones):

The Petersen House across the street, where AL died, was closed for renovations:


There’s a lot of cool assassination ephemera in the basement museum, including the door to the President’s box, the gun that did the deed, the boot that Dr. Mudd cut off Booth’s broken leg, and one of the hoods worn by (most of) the conspirators as they made their way from their cells to the courtroom:


But my favorite was this fundraiser quilt that was signed by notable figures of the day, including my two favorite Georges:


I feel bad for Zach Harton (2nd panel, top row), don’t you?

The tour concluded with the reconstructed theater:


Of course, I’m always looking for the sights and sites less seldom seen. In this case, it was the back of the building, and as usual I had the place to myself. I made my best bet as to which doorway was the one used by Booth to exit the building, mount his Peanut-tended horse, and make his escape up the alley (he had to make a left right around the spot where I took the first photo below). Even without the lovely Carol Merrill’s help I think I picked the right door, based on what I found on the threshold:


Craig Swain’s visit to the Ford’s Theater museum.

Robert Moore’s relative was on stage that fateful night!

“The Conspirator” Trailer

27 01 2011

It looks like Robert Redford’s The Conspirator will be making its debut on tax day, April 15, 2011.  Here’s the trailer (hat tip to Hop Tak):

Back to Booth

20 11 2010

Yep, I get suckered in every now and then.  I run across a new release in the book store and/or hear the author of that book on C-Span and, despite the fact that the book will be available used or as a remainder in one of the many used book stores I frequent within 6 months, I lay out the cash.  More often than not, this happens in the case of a book on Lincoln.  And also more often than not, the book goes unread.  But every once in a while I pick one up that I know I’ll read, and these are usually in that peculiar subset of the Assassination.

The other day I bought My Thoughts Be Bloody, touted as The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth that Led to an American Tragedy.  I heard the author, Nora Titone, on C-Span: she does one of those presentations where you’re pretty sure every word has been scripted out (in contrast to my own presentations, where with the exception of quotations I speak off a very general outline).  There have been at least two other books published over the past 18 years that specifically examine the relationship between the Booth brothers, and Michael Kauffman’s American Brutus also spends some time on it.  Regardless, Titone’s is the story of how Wilkes was affected by the very strained relationship he had with his older, more talented, more respected, and more powerful brother Edwin.  I’ll read this once I finish the difficult to finish West Pointers and the Civil War (the title is misleading and it lacks focus and structure, but there’s a lot of good stuff in it).

Titone’s book has a shiny silver color, not unlike that of another new Lincoln book, Bloody Crimes by James Swanson.  This combines the stories of Lincoln’s funeral procession back to Springfield with the pursuit and capture of Jefferson Davis.  Swanson appears to be taking a page from Stephen Ambrose’s playbook by blending a story he has already written (the funeral train was a big part of Swanson’s previous work, Manhunt – which also had a shiny silver cover) with another story that just happened to be going on at the same time.  I guess that’s a good gig if you can get it.  I hope that the covers are the only similarity between Titone’s book and Swanson’s – I read Manhunt and, while it’s very well written, there’s not much there there.  Know what I mean?


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