Edwin Booth and his younger brother John Wilkes Booth were, in many ways, two of a kind. They were among America’s finest actors, having inherited their father’s commanding stage presence along with his penchant for alcohol and impulsive behavior. In other respects, the two brothers were very different. Edwin was more introspective, while John was known for his passionate intensity. They stood at opposite poles politically, as well: Edwin voted for Abraham Lincoln; John was an ardent advocate of the Confederacy.
Award-winning author James Cross Giblin draws on first-hand accounts of family members, friends, and colleagues to create vivid images of Edwin Booth and his brother John Wilkes, best known today as the man who shot Abraham Lincoln. He traces the events leading up to the assassination and describes the effects of John Wilkes’s infamous deed on himself, his family, and his country. Comprehensive and compelling, this dual portrait illuminates a dark and tragic moment in the nation’s history and explores the complex legacy of two leading men—one revered, the other abhorred. Notes, bibliography, index.
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James Cross Giblin is the author of more than 20 critically acclaimed books for young people. His most recent book for Clarion, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, received the Robert F. Sibert Award for Informational Books. Mr. Giblin lives in New York City.From School Library Journal:
Starred Review. Grade 6-9–Actors Edwin and John Wilkes Booth each had a compelling stage presence and a fondness for alcohol, just like their famous father, Junius. Edwin spent his life perfecting his craft and building a reputation as the finest classical actor of his time. John was impulsive, popular with the ladies, and best known today as the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. The text is carefully researched, drawing heavily on firsthand accounts from family members and liberally illustrated with photographs, most from the Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library. The writing is engaging and eminently readable, and presents history in a manner that is, in essence, consummate storytelling. Giblin traces the events leading up to the assassination, discussing the Civil War, John Wilkes Booth's love for the Confederacy, and the plots he and his colleagues hatched to kidnap Lincoln. The effects that the assassination had on the country, and his family, are clearly presented. The search for Booth and his coconspirators rivals the excitement of police procedurals as Giblin chronicles efforts by law enforcement to bring the group to justice. Edwin's later life and his contributions to American theater are discussed. Behind all his successes, however, stood the ghost of his brother John, and the act that would forever link the Booth name with disgrace. What a story! This is nonfiction at its finest.–Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD
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