I know Sarah Vowell from her numerous appearances on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; after various reviews of Vowell’s work, many in the last month, I figured I’d give her a shot.
“History is one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between.”
It took me a while to get interested in this one. I think my primary problem was leading with Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. In history class you hear about Lincoln and Kennedy’s assassinations ad naseum; while Vowell offered some unique perspective there wasn’t a lot of new information. Perhaps some people were unaware there was a plot to murder him in Baltimore that was thwarted by Pinkerton’s crew, but I learned about that on an episode of Drunk History. My interest was much more sparked by the Garfield and McKinley assassinations because I didn’t know a lot about either of their deaths (or their presidencies). I can’t say I’ll seek out more in depth works on either president, but it’s nice to have a more fleshed out view on two of the “fly over state” presidents.
It’s interesting to see the difference between how American’s memorialize the life & death of Lincoln over his fellow assassinated presidents. Vowell visits numerous historical sites (so. many. plaques.) related to all three assassinations; she drags friends and family along on her adventures to varying degrees of enjoyments (their, not her’s- Sarah is having a grand time). Her nephew, Owen, was easily her best road trip companion.