Killing Lincoln, By Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. (Post One)

Compared to the numerous novels I have read, Killing Lincoln is the notable outlier of the pool. What separates this book from your usual novel is the 3rd person omniscient perspective. While the story is about the momentous days and thoughts that led to Lincoln’s assassination, the authors don’t feel the need to stay focused to the story, adding in their own insight and biases into it. One aspect that I quite enjoy is the common use of quotes and historical pieces of evidence to seamlessly fabricate more details and imagery into the plot. Along with increased clarity the usage of quotes also gives variety in the ways the authors express the character’s thoughts. The entire book is written in such a way that evidence and commentary is translated on and off to keep readers engaged yet free to make their own opinions.

I will admit at first I wasn’t sure if the book was going to go any farther than list a lot of boring facts but I was proven wrong as I went deeper into the book. One of the major symbols in the story that was introduced was the ides, a term coming from Julius Caesar’s assassination. The ides were known as a lunar cycle in Rome and as the day Julius died. The authors brought this up because they wanted to let the readers know how like Julius’s death, Lincoln’s death was well predicted beforehand and in a sense, inevitable. I’m excited to read Killing Lincoln and to learn more about our history’s darkest times.

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7 responses to “Killing Lincoln, By Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. (Post One)

  1. alexvlaisavich

    I too think that Killing Lincoln is a great way to the see the events leading up to the assassination of one our nation’s greatest Presidents in a whole new lens. I do agree also that O’Reilly does a great job of foreshadowing Lincoln’s death and his references to possible assassination attempts helped give the reader a sense of the grim events to come. It’s terrible to think that Lincoln was destined to die after reforming the United States, but when reading the book, it seems that the country needed a martyr so that everyone would unite and rebuild the country so that Lincoln’s dream of a reunited nation would come true.

    What also impressed me about the novel, was the descriptive and extremely interesting historical facts presented to the reader. I never knew that Booth had been at Lincoln’s side during his second inauguration, or that he had tried to attack him right then and there. I also enjoyed learning about General Robert E. Lee’s desperate attempt to save the confederacy, and all of the times he and his army slipped out of the grasp of the Union’s forces. O’Reilly gives great descriptions of bravery and courage at the end of the civil war, and that without Lincoln’s will to see things through, there might not be fifty stars on the flag today.

  2. 2nd Post: One flaw I find in the author’s writing style is that he tries to add a judgemental tone to the words. It is a common practice for O’Reilly to antagonize John Wilkes Booth and to praise Lincoln instead. What I do not appreciate about this is that this story is told in an omniscient perspective, a view that is not meant to force opinions. It feels off and not connected to the actual historical setting when they keep adding personal biases. At first this was not a problem that I noticed, but it kept growing as the book progressed. I do agree with Alex that the historical facts implemented in the book make it enjoyable to read.

    While we all know that the climax of the story is the eventual death of Lincoln, the plot beforehand makes the event much more suspenseful. The details about Booth and Lincoln’s thoughts help us understand the reasons for the actions they take during the story. The author explains how Booth was going to act, by finishing his murder saying a Latin phrase meaning, ” Thus always to tyrants” (182). Through this quote Booth’s boastful attitude and motivation can be seen. This characterization just makes the climax seem even more dramatic.

  3. alexvlaisavich

    Although the omniscient perspective can add personal bias, I think that the bias is appropriate since Lincoln is and will always be an American hero. That way, the author can praise Lincoln and make Booth seem like more of a villain, which makes readers feel even more passionate about the topic. Like Peter said though, it does have weaknesses. The omniscient point of view makes the book seem like more of a history text book since readers see all events as they actually went down in history, instead of seeing them from a personal perspective. Without a first person narrator, it’s harder to connect and feel closer to important characters such as Lincoln or Booth.

    Overall, I have really enjoyed the plot of the book and watching everything fold out. It was really interesting to find out more about Booth’s personal life and how his emotional state played a large role in the decisions that he made. I have also come to observe that Lincoln and Booth are complete opposites. On one hand, Booth is a man who lives for the moment and has emotional peaks and valleys. On the other side, Lincoln is a calm and collected man who is very patient and makes logical decisions. I am interested to see how the personalities of the characters could affect the plot and how they could end up getting both Lincoln and Booth killed.

  4. In this part of the book Alex’s comment about how it’s harder to connect and feel closer to important characters seems true. However the author also does not seem to completely understand the thoughts of the characters as the story progresses, and even goes to a point to stretch history. During the time Booth is preparing for Lincoln’s assassination, he thinks in mind, “We are at war. This is not murder. You will become immortal.” (192). These thoughts that Booth are having are not very realistic and don’t portray his personality accurately. O’Reilly’s intended purpose of these thoughts are to portray Booth as a sociopathic madman, but there is limited historical evidence to prove that Booth could actually be thinking what O’Reilly wrote. It is too over exaggerated to be realistic. It is possible to believe Booth thought he was a benefactor of society for killing Lincoln, but not that he didn’t believe he was committing murder or that he would live forever.

    While this kind of exaggeration might make a more enjoyable read for a wide audience, this book should not be referenced for accurate historical material. O’Reilly has too much attention from the media to be able to write something with accurate, historic details. Instead of accuracy he uses a sense of pathos and patriotism to lure his audience in liking the book, as in my opinion the true reason O’Reilly wrote this book was only for the money.

  5. alexvlaisavich

    Although Booth’s thoughts and emotions may have been exaggerated and not entirely accurate, I think that author Bill O’Reilly was trying to show how mentally unstable he was, and that his anger drove him to murder Lincoln. Earlier in the book, Booth lost control of his emotions and tried to tackle Lincoln during one of his speeches. O’Reilly may exaggerate to an extent but his descriptions of Booth’s mental state definitely gives the reader a better understand that Booth was out of control with his anger and that it could not be contained.

    On the other hand, Booth used his anger to fuel a very precise plan on how to assassinate Lincoln. So while Booth was not able to control some emotions, he was still a very intelligent and sly man that was able to craft a plan for one of the most famous assassinations in history.

    What was interesting to me, is that Lincoln did not fear death and that in a way accepted it. Multiple times throughout the book, Lincoln displayed himself during large crowds and in battle zones that may have contained a murderer. Also, I am intrigued that Lincoln predicted his life would be cut short but that he knew it was alright since he successfully reunited a nation.

  6. Killing Lincoln, 7/10

    After finishing the book, I felt like the story had a well-rounded conclusion, describing all the events that happened after Lincoln was killed, while still being relevant to Lincoln himself. The authors didn’t go into the historical effects of Lincoln’s death, but more so in the court cases that happened after the death. The historical details and pictures remain relevant to the story, and help the readers learn more about U.S. history. However, the reason I don’t give this book a full score is because of the personal bias the authors implement , as Alex and I recognized in the past responses. I just don’t think a large bias should be happening in this style of writing, and the authors don’t even mention their bias exists. It is a very controversial book, as it frames Booth as a criminal while turning Lincoln into a hero. The problem is people aren’t as one sided as O’Reilly makes them out to be. Even Lincoln did awful things in his presidency, such as suspending habeas corpus and supporting the fugitive slave act. Of course both of these actions were intended for a good cause, but they both caused suffering to many people all over the nation.

    The facts might have been slightly twisted to portray Lincoln as a hero, but many pieces of historical evidence remained true. O’Reilly and Dugard used strong potent language to bring the reader in, and that is why I give this book a 7/10.

  7. alexvlaisavich

    “Killing Lincoln” 8/10

    Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly was a great piece of writing that helped readers rediscover history from a brand new angle. The novel describes how one gunshot changed the history of America after president Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. After crafting and executing a perfect assassination, Booth becomes the world’s most wanted man, and the largest manhunt in the history of nation begins.

    Author Bill O’Reilly’s use of an omniscient narrator helps readers see into the thoughts of all characters which helped readers understand the motives and beliefs of each character. This omniscient perspective helped readers understand the motives behind Booth’s actions, and this really helped develop Booth’s personality. Also, this perspective helped contrast Lincoln and Booth and it displayed how opposite they are. O’Reilly did an excellent job of setting the stage of the book, and developing the characters, as well as building up suspense. Most importantly, the historical context was spot on, and every part of the story was detailed. At the end, it came to a solid conclusion, and although the author included bias, I thought that it was appropriate to convey Lincoln as an American hero, and Booth as a villain.

    Killing Lincoln helps readers dig deeper into a darker part of American history, and it uncovers details that may seem very surprising to readers. Overall, it was a great historical book, and it was very detailed, but remained interesting at the same time. I enjoyed the book, and thought that it was a great way to go in depth to the topic of Lincoln’s assassination.

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