Assassination Vacation

Author: Sarah Vowell
Year: 2005
Genre: History

This was a quick, entertaining read about presidential assassinations. I haven't had this much fun since I saw Assassins (and I've had the soundtrack stuck in my head the whole time I've been reading this book). There are a lot of interesting historical details about Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, but mostly it's the story of the author's compulsion to visit morbid presidential history sites while forcing her friends to tag along.

Since it's a book full of trivia about one woman's obsession with historical minutiae, Vowell's attempt to conclude the book with a hint of grander significance (weird coincidences in history give us a sense that life might not be random and meaningless) falls flat. It doesn't matter, though - that's not the point of the book. Vowell is more like the high school history teacher who can make you like her class, even if you don't like history, because she evidently loves it so much. Since the McKinley chapter, I've been feeling strange urges to check out the new biography of T.R., and if I do, it's to her credit.

No comments: