I'm not usually big on travel books or on history, but Sarah Vowell's record of her pilgrimage to sites related to early US presidential assassinations has been one of the best books I've read this year. She has a very dry and sarcastic humor that actually comes through the page and without feeling patronizing. She actually makes me want to take a tour of DC to see all these places she's talking about.
I grabbed this at a library sale, figuring that if it was bad, it was surely wishlisted. Anyways, I was very pleased to find that it was actually interesting, despite my lack of enthusiasm on the subject of American History. Yes, I am one of those people whom if you said "Garfield", I would think of the orange cat, but now I find I quite like the former president as well. Well worth the read as it's both informative and entertaining.
If you had told me that I would read and enjoy a book about presidential assassinations, I would have said you were crazy. My preferred genres are chick lit and historical fiction. But, I loved Assassination Vacation!
I decided to give this a try after seeing so many good reviews, and reading the first few pages on Amazon.com. I was laughing from the very beginning, and couldn't wait to read more. So much so, that I didn't want to wait to get it from Amazon, and went down to my local Borders to buy it that same day. I read it in just two days.
It was funny and snarky in the tradition of Jen Lancaster and Laurie Notaro, with the added bonus of actual historical facts. Like all of us, I knew the basic facts of Lincoln's assassination, but I didn't know some of the more interesting details. And I knew nothing about McKinley's and Garfield's assassinations - what I had learned in school didn't stick with me. But, now after reading this book, I know a lot more, and I think I'll remember it, because it was so entertaingly told.
For me, President Garfield will now always be Mr. Loner McBookworm. LOL! And Robert Todd Lincoln will be Jinxy McDeath.
I highly recommend this book. Even if you think this isn't your cup of tea, give it a try. It'll be worth it.
As a former funeral director I enjoy reading books on this topic. I have been fasinated with presidential deaths since I was a kid and I really enjoyed this book! The "Vacations" the author goes on sound like ones I would take. Loved the book. Loved the history. Am so glad I read it.
My first Sarah Vowell book and I'm in love! I will read basically anything she ever writes because she makes history sound exciting and brings it to life. Plus, she has the best voice in the world and I can hear it when I'm reading her words. :)
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. It focused on Abraham Lincoln and took the author to some interesting places. I found it educational and entertaining, even though it isn't something that I would normally read about.
I am not that into recent American history, and that may be why I didn't enjoy the second half of the book as much. Presidents Garfield and McKinley aren't that interesting to me. I didn't think that it was any fault of the author, for she seems to really get into geeking out at historical sites, and likes things that make my eyes melt from the boredom.
I think the book is worth reading, just for the first half, and if you are interested in the other two men, you will enjoy it even more.
I probably shouldn't be surprised that I found a book about presidential assassinations boring. I was expecting this audio version to be more entertaining since it has so many celebrity voice cameos, but no such luck. It was interesting but mostly pretty dry. I considered quitting several times but had put so much time into listening that I decided to stick it out. I recommend it only for those with a serious interest in history.
What an interesting way to learn about the history of our American Presidents. At first I thought it was silly... but after the second CD I began to learn about the men who led the country and their enemies and predecessors. Definetly a fun way to learn a bit about politics.
This is my first Sarah Vowell, and won't be my last. Her writing style is amusing but insightful, and while you might laugh out loud at some of her passages, you also learn something along the way. Who knew that the history of presidential assassinations could be entertaining...in a good way?
Sarah Vowell is now one of my all-time favorite authors! I absolutely adored Assassination Vacation, which surprised me a little, considering the subject matter was not of particular interest to me. Sarah has a way of making you passionate about what she writes, with her off-beat enthusiasm and wit.
I love a good travelogue, but this book has so much more to offer! Assassination Vacation is chock-full of bizarre historical tidbits, combined with Sarahs hilarious perspectives on history as well as her travels, retracing the steps of three past presidents (Lincoln, Garfield & McKinley) and their assassins. Sarah also offers a bonus chapter at the end of the book, focusing on the presidential bad-luck charm who was Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincolns son. (He happened to be nearby or present at all three of the assassinations.)
Ive already ordered Take the Canolli another of her books. Im excited to read Radio On and The Partly Cloudy Patriot also by Sarah Vowell.
I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of Sarah Vowell's after reading another book by her, but this book was an excellent read. I'm a history buff and enjoy good political discussions. This book did not disappoint. If you enjoy history, mystery, and scandal then this book will be a great read for you. Told from her personal points of views (literally and figuratively) it's a quick read that will get your brain wheels turning.
This book is great. My first Sarah Vowell book and I am NOT dissapointed. Ms. Vowell takes you on a road trip to the pit stops of American political murders, and makes it fun. She writes of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley's assassinations. It is informative and witty.
I love Sarah Vowell. She has a quirky, eccentric and often funny take on history that is both enlightening and endearing - you might call it a well-developed sense of the absurd. In this book she explores whatever it is that makes stories and sites of historic massacres, assassinations and incredibly bloody battles so fascinating to so many of us.
With Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell hits 3 of 4 with me as successful volumes.
In it she describes her researches into the history of 3 presidential assassinations: Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. It sounds macabre - and it is - but Vowell pulls it off and keeps a sense of humor about it.
She manages that by adding things to the simple dry history, things like her own opinions and musings on what those involved were saying and and thinking.
I enjoyed reading this, and I learned a few things in the process. Alas, my brain is lousy at holding on to details - I'm better at remembering emotions for some reason - so I'm afraid a lot of the actual history here won't stick with me.
Still, it's fascinating to learn that Robert Todd Lincoln - the president's son - was at or nearby during all three of the assassinations Vowell documents.
I will take a few other facts away from this, too: McKinley's assassin, Leon Czolgosz, was a depressed anarchist. Garfield's assassin, Charles Guiteau, was probably clinically insane. And Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, actually thought he was doing good for the country.
I recommend Assassination Vacation for it's quirky humor mixed with Vowell's opinions and real history. An odd but nice blend.
Vowell takes what could be a morbid topic (presedential assassinations) and lightens it up with humor and insight. Her interest and passion come through in her writing, making the book even better. Though the book was written from a very liberal Democrat's perspective, this is a book that anyone with even the slightest interest in history will like.
I tried to like this book but just couldn't get past Disc 2. The author is the narrator, and her voice is whiny and very nasal. Too much history for my taste. Thank goodness I checked this out from the library.