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Lincoln’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

Publisher: Square Fish • 2014 • 352 pages
4.75 out of 5 • View Ratings Details • 8 Ratings

This skillfully abridged and adapted edition of O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln (Holt, 2011) retains the format of the adult title with brief chapters written in a present tense, “you are there” style. It opens in the often-chaotic closing days of the Civil War, capturing the jubilation following Lee’s surrender, the events of Lincoln’s last days, and Booth’s obsessive hatred of Lincoln and his conspiracy to assassinate him. It then describes the shooting and Lincoln’s final hours and death, the manhunt for Booth and his allies, Booth’s death, and the speedy trial and execution of his coconspirators.

An afterword relates the fates of other important figures, and appendixes include a “Lincoln’s World” that provides facts about aspects of the Civil War, time lines, and Lincoln-related Washington, DC, locations. Well-captioned illustrations, which include maps and period photos of the major players and significant locations, appear on almost every page and are both informative and interesting. This thrillerlike adaptation captures the excitement of the Union victory in the Civil War and the shock and horror that quickly followed as the country learned of Lincoln’s death and sought revenge on his assassins.

The popularity of O’Reilly’s adult title will drive interest in this version, but it definitely stands alone and will find an audience among general readers and report writers. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (Scholastic, 2009), the YA version of James L. Swanson’s adult best-seller, is more narrowly focused on the conspiracy and the massive manhunt for Booth.

Book Review from School Library Journal, by Mary Mueller

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