For a Biography of John Wilkes Booth, Terry Alford Turns to Amateur ResearchersHistorians in the News
tags: Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, conspiracy, assassination
Countless words have been written about John Wilkes Booth since he shot Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater 150 years ago on Tuesday. But the assassin, amazingly, has not yet received a full-dress biography.
That changes this week with the publication of Terry Alford’s “Fortune’s Fool,” which delivers fresh revelations about the darkly magnetic Booth’s early violent tendencies (he tortured cats as a boy), up-and-down stage career, growing political extremism, and grisly final hours.
Mr. Alford’s book, published by Oxford University Press, is already being hailed as an important contribution, with the Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer praising it in The Wall Street Journal as “so deeply researched and persuasively argued that it should stand as the standard portrait for years.”
That research included nearly 25 years in libraries and archives, but also something more unusual: immersion in the world of the Boothies, as the amateur researchers, buffs and obsessives bent on tracking down every last detail and relic relating to the assassination proudly call themselves.
“They have dug up wonderful material over the years,” Mr. Alford, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, said in an interview. “They aren’t professionals, but they have found lots of things historians have missed.” ...
comments powered by Disqus
- The Quiet 2013 Lunch That Could Have Altered Supreme Court History
- It’s Not Anti-Catholic to Ask Amy Coney Barrett About Her Religious Group “People of Praise”
- The Incredible Influence of James A. Baker III
- ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Star, and His Fans, Are Taking Indigenous Studies
- Amy Coney Barrett and the Triumph of Phyllis Schlafly