Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

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Our Score

 

Killing Lincoln

Killing Lincoln is an excellent historical account of the time surrounding the end of the Civil War. While it’s suitable for middle grade up, it should be categorized as young adult because the book was not written for children.

Pros

Killing Lincoln goes into detail about the end of the Civil War. O’Reilly and Dugard go into great detail to put Lincoln’s assassination into historical context. The best part was the details about John Wilkes Booth, his co-conspirators, and what they did before and after the assassination. Bill O’Reilly narrates the audio version of Killing Lincoln, and I highly recommend it.

Cons

Not too many. Really sensitive children might be troubled by the details of Lincoln’s injury and the broken leg John Wilkes Booth sustained. While not overly graphic, both are rather detailed. Blogger’s note: when I went to Ford’s Theater and saw the suit Lincoln wore, I nearly passed out, so I might be a bit on the squeamish side. Because of the nature of assassinations, this might preclude families from listening to the audio version or allowing sensitive readers to read this book until they can handle this aspect. There is minimal,  if any unsuitable language. There may be a couple of minor oaths and/or racial slurs in the context of quotes and correspondence.

Rating

5 Stars. Overall, Killing Lincoln is well-written and engaging. Most of all, the istorical details are the highlight of this book are fascinating. My husband and I listened to the audiobook, which I highly recommend. Bill O’Reilly narrates and has an engaging voice.

Personal Opinion

We have listened to all of the O’Reilly-Dugard “Killing” books, and this is the second in my series on these books because I think each of them offers fantastic insight into the social and political climate at the time. However, not all will carry 5-star ratings even though the writing quality and level of detail are the same. Not all are family friendly due to varying degrees of objectionable content especially in the books covering more recent events.

Discussion points for parents & teachers:

  1. Discuss some of the difficult decisions President Lincoln had to make. Would you have made the same choice?
  2. John Wilkes Booth came from a prominent family and his brother was the equivalent of a famous movie star. What it might have been like to grow up like this?
  3. Put yourself in the place of a Confederate after their side lost
  4. Discuss the challenges faced by newly freed slaves.
  5. Consider some of the problems the Union faced reuniting the country.
  6. General Ulysses S. Grant
  7. General Robert E. Lee
  8. Jefferson Davis
  9. Secretary of State Seward and other political leaders of the time
  10. The Lincoln Family
  11. The conspirators

Parents will appreciate the historical account of this time in history. For teachers and librarians there are so many great topics that can springboard from this book.

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Gretchen Engel
In high school, Gretchen E K Engel competed to write her English teacher’s favorite essays and earn highest marks in physics. Science won over the arts, and Gretchen became a chemical engineer. An environmental consultant by day and speculative fiction writer by night, she has authored hundreds of technical documents and several short stories.

3 Replies to “Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard”

    1. So sad. I did both of my high school term papers on Civil War topics. The siege at Vicksburg and the role of New Orleans in the war.
      This book is more of a wrap-up. It’s a similar timeline to the biopic Lincoln. Bruce Catton wrote a lot of detailed accounts. I used some of his books for reference.

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