Lincoln's Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America's Greatest President

Univ. Pr. of Kentucky. Oct. 2015. 244p. photos. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813166087. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780813166094. HIST
Canavan uses her journalistic skills as a reporter for the Delaware Business Times to reconstruct the last hours of Abraham Lincoln's life, largely through the eyes of those who witnessed the assassination, carried Lincoln's body to the house across from Ford's Theater, tended to the president in his death throes, and assembled at his bedside to watch and weep over him—and, for some, to help maintain the government in a period of turmoil. The author introduces minor figures who observed or participated in handling Lincoln's death and his funeral; she provides a revealing profile of John Wilkes Booth and his ambitions but offers no new arguments on the conspiracy or the significance of the assassination.
VERDICT Canavan's approach brings readers close to the immediate actions, but, in the end, she cheats her subject by forgoing much historical analysis or any attempt to connect her work with the abundance of literature on the assassination, or even to assay the larger conspiracy that Booth and others hatched. The result is a book that is a "good read" but not one that will much change what we already know.
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