Sunday, June 3, 2007

BOOK: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

I'm not sure what I thought this book would be about. I'd seen Vowell on The Daily Show and found her humorous. When I signed up for the Nonfiction Five reading challenge, I added this to my library list, figuring it would be funny. And it was.

Vowell is somewhat obsessed with presidential assassinations and she focuses here on Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley and their assassins. She literally goes on assassination vacations. She goes on daytrips, finds plaques all over America and through some very interesting observations and droll commentary, I learned more about American history and some old guy presidents than I ever knew. And she did a great job of writing a history book full of facts and connections - for example, Richard Todd Lincoln was present at, or near, all three of those assassinations- without losing my interest. She doesn't explain things linearly and it makes for a very chatty, enjoyable read. I imagine if you were American and knew even a little about these characters, you would enjoy the book even more.

Vowell makes some interesting connections to current events and presidents, since the more things change, the more they stay the same. History repeats itself. There was mention of the Chicago World Fair, the subject of another book Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen which is making me want to read that as a book for this challenge. I borrowed the book from a student and the fact that the Chaicago World Fair was mentioned so often in this books means it is fate (McKinley was shot at the world fair in Buffalo) that I read it.


  1. Seems like everyone who reads this one really likes it (I did). She has a very conversational style. Did you know she was the voice of the teenaged daughter in 'The Incredibles'?

  2. Hey, sounds interesting! I do enjoy history and might pick this one up.

  3. I read this one about a year ago for one of my book clubs (we also read: Devil in the White City). We enjoyed its quirky style. Some of the ladies listened to it as a book on tape and said it was even better.

  4. I'd never heard of this book. Sounds really interesting! Definitely think I'm going to have to pick this one up. Thanks!


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