American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatical Family : Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth

American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatical Family : Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes BoothThis book was a delightful surprise Well written,with sympathy to all characters And the coincidences An interesting examination of an American family that impacted American political and theater history. The Story Of Th Century America S Legendary Theatrical Family Junius, Edwin, And John Wilkes Booth Smith S Chronicle Of The Booth Family Draws Readers Into The Glittering World Of The Theater And Into A Family Beset By Insanity And Fateful Dreams Of GloryPages Of Photos Very interesting to read about the whole Booth family I knew a bit about John Wilkes Booth of course, but next to nothing about the other members of the family I had no idea that Junius the elder was a vegetarian as well as an alcoholic who was considered by many to be insane Edwin had to act as his keeper when he went out touring, and got his own start one day when Junius was too out of it to go on stage Edwin and Junius Jr spent some time acting out in California during the Gold Rush John was considered by some to be a better actor than Edwin I d always heard he was second rate The lives of the family members were severely damaged after the assassination something I d never thought about When I finished the book and read the about the author section, I realized that I d read another of his books When the cheering stopped The last years of Woodrow Wilson I don t think he s the best author I ve ever encountered, but he does know how to tell an interesting story I may have to seek out some of his other books.I ve read that American Brutus John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies is a much better biography than this book, so perhaps I ll read that soon. Obviously this book is going to focus on John as opposed to Edwin However, I enjoyed the discussion of Edwin s theatre circles and what happened to the rest of the family in the aftermath of the assassination There may be better books out there about Edwin and John but this was a nice way to get introduced to the family. I have studied Lincoln extensively over the years Ok, to be honest, I m slightly obsessed with him, butparticularly with Mary Todd The undergraduate college I attended allowed for students under the guidance of a faculty advisor, to write an individual course One such course I designed was the study of the way in which Lincoln and Mark Twain influenced modern American speech I m an English nerd You can t study Lincoln without studying the Civil War or without studying his assassination But strangely, I only knew a small amount about Booth as a person and virtually nothing about his family except that they were all actors or otherwise connected to the theater This book was fascinating in how deeply it delved not just on John, but on the entire family I found myself actually liking John as he was described and it was really heartbreaking to me to know what he had done I had always assumed he assassinated Lincoln because he was pro slavery given his pro southern inclinations, however this wasn t the case at all He was angry about the states rights issue, which is something a lot of people forget to talk about when discussing the Civil War I know it wasn t brought up much in any of the history classes I took in school, or if it was, it wasn t explained well enough to stick Regardless, I love that this book taught me something new My biggest critique is the author s depiction of Mary Todd Granted, the book wasn t about her, therefore, you can t expect him to have engaged in copious amounts of research regarding her However, it seems as though he just took the standard issue line of she was crazy and drove everyone around her nuts and ran with it History, particularly the part written by men and particularly at the time when her asshole eldest son was still alive to have an influence on it and make no mistake, the guy was a prick of gigantic proportions , has treated her cruelly and unfairly Stop and consider the amount of tragedy the woman endured Anyone would lose it for awhile But she and Lincoln shared a deep love and enduring bond People forget that And it bugs the crap otu of me I just feel that even though this book was not focused on her, anyone who starts out with the intention of touching this part of history owes it to the memory of the people involved to do the best that they can to present an accurate picture of the principal players I don t think the author quite met this standard I do see from other reviews that there are other books that people have suggested that go into further depth on the family I ve added them to my reading list My review is currently 5 stars because I did enjoy it and other than my personal pet peeve as mentioned above, I felt it was well written and the information was organized and very accessible and readable I may alter my opinion after reading some of the other books, but if I do will notate it in this review. Really found this one fascinating, I had no idea that Booth was so famous before the assassination as I knew very little about him Full review to come. Interesting book about American History. I was invited to read and review this title by Open Road Media and Net Galley Thanks to them for the DRC, which I received in exchange for an honest review This title was released to the public October 4 and can be purchased any time you want it.Although I love a good night at the theater as much as anyone else, I came to this bearing a love of history and a strong affinity for the American Civil War I didn t realize to what extent this would be purely a biography of this family of actors, and it was because of this that I became somewhat disillusioned.Smith has carefully documented the lives of Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth He talks about their predecessors, their early development, and their careers, and he documents everything he talks about Those studying nineteenth century American actors will want this book, because these men were the most famous of their time period, tickets to see them perform much sought after My problem is with the elephant in the room.It s hard not to approach John Wilkes Booth without thinking about military history, and about his role in what was essentially an incipient CIA within the Confederacy Other sources neatly document the fact that it was not a case of simple mental illness on the part of an assailant that made President Lincoln, the greatest president in the history of the USA, die There was a great deal of planning involved, of research about where he would be and when he would be there Contacts were made, and a plot was launched that was initially muchfar reaching in scope, but with the surrender of Lee s army, others within the cadre left town fast and didn t look back Booth was the one that decided he was going to follow through, one way or the other How much of it was due to a longing for an historical spotlight, how much was due to emotional instability, and how much was a calculated effort to revive the Confederacy by assassinating Lincoln, we do not know, but what we do know, and what Smith doesn t say, is that this was not a matter of simply yielding to impulse, of losing one s sanity and suddenly deciding to kill a great leader It was done in a calculated way, and I can t respect this biography when this information is omitted All we hear about are references to early signs of madness , as if this horrible deed can be swept to the side by the use of one well placed word.That being said, The New York Times loved this book If the history of acting is your wheelhouse, you may want to read it There s nothing of method or technique that will help a developing actor, but it doesn t pretend to be It s about the actors lives and careers, and that s pretty much it.Those that treasure history as a bigger picture, or that are looking for some tiny morsel to help them understand what made John Wilkes Booth carry out this monstrous, well planned killing will remain as much in the dark when the book ends, as they are now. I have changed reduced my rating on this, because I just read American Brutus, which is in a whole different league The review on that will be forthcoming.This was an interesting book, details the family history of the Booth s, their great talents and debilitating problems They really were a famous or infamous bunch before the assassination It is interesting to note that those who knew John Wilkes Booth best never thought it possible before the assassination that he would go to such extremes.He had Southern sympathies, of course, but he was such a genial, handsome man, everyone found him charming and vivacious, he was just at the beginning of a great stage career and was secretly engaged to a popular socialite Lucy Hale And he was only 26 when he unintentionally made Lincoln a martyr The plotting with his companions started as something muchbenign, a kidnapping at most It got twisted and eventually led to the plan to take all the heads of the country out in one night He fulfilled his part of the plan to a T, and we are all lucky that his co conspirators were not as successful He never understood, during the 12 days before his eventual capture and death why people reviled him so for killing the man he saw as The Great Tyrant, responsible for the Civil War In his mind, he was dispatching justice for the suffering of the entire country in one fell swoop at the theater It is the ultimate American tragedy.

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  • Paperback
  • 286 pages
  • American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatical Family : Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth
  • Gene Smith
  • English
  • 10 October 2019
  • 9780671873011

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