Killing Lincoln Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

O'Reilly, Bill, and Martin Dugard. Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever. New York: Henry Holt and, 2011. Print.


Killing Lincoln is a book written by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The information about Martin Dugard on his website says that he is a running enthusiast and a successful cross country coach. He has written several novels on his own, as well as co-authored books with Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson. Bill O’Reilly is much more well known as a talk show host for FOX. Before his success in television O’Reilly was a high school history teacher, which could explain his background for writing a book like this. Of the two, O’Reilly would ...view middle of the document...

He has the book split into 4 parts that focus on different points in time during the last few weeks of Lincoln’s life. It also has relatively short chapters in each of these 4 parts that help to make for a quicker read. O’Reilly is writing in the present tense, and in a more informal way than a normal historic non-fiction. In his note to the readers he states that this book is written as a thriller, which I do believe he accomplishes by getting into the thoughts and emotions of each character rather than just stating the facts. Overall the structure and writing style make this 336 page book read quickly and enjoyably.
O’Reilly starts off with his first section being called “Total War.” This part of the book begins on April 1, 1865 which is two weeks before Lincoln is killed. In this sections he covers the ending of the civil war, and the final battles between General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant. He also credits some of the other significant players in these last battles, such as Sheridan, Custer, and Longstreet. Instead of just giving facts about these battles, O’Reilly gives us a possible insight into what these soldiers were thinking and feeling towards the end of the war. During this first part of the novel, the author is intentionally foreshadowing the death of lincoln by showing that Lincoln would refuse extra security, and would even do things by himself. He almost seemed to know that he was going to be killed, and just refused to be afraid of it.

The second part of this novel picks up in Washington D.C after the war has been declared over. This part is called “The Ides of Death.” Lincoln is focused on repairing the nation after this devastating war. Lincoln, who is widely considered a great speaker gives a speech that is somber and factual, not gripping and emotional like he usually gives. This section of the book is focused on Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth, and their thoughts and actions after the war. Booth originally planned to kidnap Lincoln and not engage in “Black Flag” warfare, which would have meant killing the president. Eventually though, his hatred for Lincoln becomes too strong, and the confederate cause seems almost completely lost, so Booth decides that assassination is the only course of action that remains available to him.
“The Long Good Friday” covers the span of time between April 14, until Lincoln is pronounced dead on April 15. This is a part of the book that has some parts of the conspiracy that will probably never be fully understood. There are guards that are not at their post, and bridges being left open that should not have been. The same theme persists here that Lincoln knows that he will not live until the end of his second term, but he probably did not expect that killer to come so soon. This section ends with a famous quote by Edwin Stanton after the silver coins had been placed over Lincoln’s eyes. He said, “Now he belongs to the ages” (232).
Part four of the book is called “The...

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