The audio book, read by Bill O’Reilly, is excellent. At first I found his reading of it a bit distracting. I was more used to him being a conservative “talking head” on TV, rather than an author or a reader. However, soon I was captured by the book’s retelling of a brief period of Lincoln’s life and eventual murder.
This engaging non-fiction narration largely covers the last 14 days of President Lincoln’s life. It explores his personality and his relationships with friends, family and foes, during the events and major battles from that time period during the Civil War, right up to his assassination and continuing afterwards until justice has been served.
It goes on to disclose many facts of which I was unaware about John Wilkes Booth’s family, co-conspirators and friends. This is a great tool for students as it is easy to read and is concise and clear in its description of the times. By almost all accounts, the book is very accurate in its presentation, and it remains on the best seller list week after week.
It exposes the capriciousness of war with the results of the conflicts often being largely determined by chance. Winner or loser, survivor or casualty, all are dependent upon a moment of decision which is often based on stupidity rather than strategy. Lady luck plays a great role in the consequences of the war and the Presidency. For some she smiled, but for others she turned her countenance away.
O’Reilly expertly contrasts the saint (Lincoln) with the sinner (Booth). The heroes and the villains come to life on the pages. He exposes possible controversies that remain unsolved today. He makes what could be dry history as exciting as a fictional murder mystery. The character’s thoughts seem as real as if they existed in the moment of our reading.
Most reviews that have been written about the book are glowing, but there are some that are negative that seem to be motivated by sheer politics. Written by extremely leftist journalists for publications of the same ilk, they are petty in nature and point out discrepancies in the book that do not affect its credibility or its value. An example of a negative comment is a note about a date of an event being off by a day. Since this could have simply been an error in typing, not picked up by an editor, it would seem that the reviewer was motivated by the prime intent to grind an axe, rather than to write a worthy review.