Mike Kueber's Blog

March 11, 2012

Sunday Book Review #66 – Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 1:40 am
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Killing Lincoln was written by Bill O’Reilly (big font) and Martin Dugard (small font).  Although I had no reason for wanting to read a book by an O’Reilly ghostwriter about the killing of Lincoln, I decided to do so because (a) O’Reilly continually plugs the book on his nightly show, and (b) the book has been at the top of the NY Times book chart for months.  Furthermore, my reading of Glenn Beck’s book on George Washington turned out to be enjoyable and surprisingly informative, and perhaps the same would happen with O’Reilly’s book, too. 

Although Killing Lincoln was enjoyable reading, it caused me more than once to repeat my initial impulse – namely, why am I reading this book?  As a historical fact, the story could be condensed into a dozen pages or so instead of the 294 pages in this book, and, as a suspense thriller, I knew how the story would end. 

Killing Lincoln contained nothing insightful and provided only sketchy descriptions of the leading characters.  The only noteworthy information in the book was the rumor that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was a part of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln.  I don’t recall Doris Kearns Goodwin mentioning that in her Lincoln book, Team of Rivals, but perhaps I overlooked that tidbit amongst all of the other information that she provided.

In his “A Note to Readers,” O’Reilly says, “I thought I understood the facts and implications of the assassination.  But even though I am a former teacher of history, I had no clue….  You will learn much in these pages, and the experience, I believe, will advance your understanding of our country, and how Lincoln’s murder changed it forever.”  That, I submit, is false advertising.  While O’Reilly’s book provides docu-drama facts concerning the conspiracy, it does nothing to enhance our understanding of America and how Lincoln’s murder changed it.  His vice-president Andrew Johnson is dimly portrayed as a dumb, extremist drunk, but the book ends with the capture of Booth, so we never learn how Reconstruction proceeds under Johnson.  There is no way to understand how Lincoln’s murder changed everything without a discussion of what actually happened.

In the end, Killing Lincoln appears to be nothing more than pabulum churned about by O’Reilly enterprises to fatten his coffers and strengthen his connection with his constituency of viewers.     

 

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5 Comments »

  1. In the end, 2 good reasons to write a book, eh?

    q

    Comment by Q — March 13, 2012 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  2. q, remember Bob Davis continually talking about strengthening the connection between USAA and a member by increasing the number of products that the member owns? O’Reilly seems to be applying the same principle.

    Comment by Mike Kueber — March 13, 2012 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

  3. i do, usaa still believes, bill does.

    Comment by Q — March 14, 2012 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  4. […] surprised everyone by authoring a #1 best-seller in 2011 titled Killing Lincoln, which was #66 of my book reviews.  One year later, against all odds, he (and co-author Martin Dugard) has […]

    Pingback by Sunday Book Review #96 – Killing Kennedy « Mike Kueber's Blog — January 12, 2013 @ 4:46 am | Reply

  5. […] Jesus is Bill O’Reilly’s follow-up to bestsellers Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy.  Both of those books were excellent; Killing Jesus not so […]

    Pingback by Sunday Book Review #108 – Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard | Mike Kueber's Blog — October 30, 2013 @ 8:29 pm | Reply


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