Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln by John C Fazio
This is a comprehensive work on the assassination of Lincoln and the attempted decapitation of the United States Government in the closing days of the Civil War. After a Foreward by Joan L. Chaconas, it begins with the prelude to the national fratricide and ends with the incarceration, trial and sentencing of all but one of the assassin’s action team and one innocent man and an in-depth analysis of conspiracy. In between, the author covers the underground mosaic; John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators; the great kidnapping ruse that concealed the attempted decapitation; conundrums, enigmas and mysteries relating to key players (Parker, Forbes and Cobb); the assassination itself and Booth’s escape; attempted decapitation of the government; the death of the President; pursuit of the fugitives and the death of Booth; and Edman Spangler’s innocence. The author makes use of hundreds of sources to justify his rejection of the simple conspiracy theory and his affirmation of the Tidwell, Hall and Gaddy thesis of the complicity of the highest levels of the Confederate Government and its Secret Service Bureau, including the operatives in Canada, whose twofold purpose was retribution and snatching independence from the jaws of a toothless and chaotic government.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I know what you’re thinking…oh no, not another Lincoln book–and whilst I understand that sentiment, allow me to ensure you that this one is worth the time to read and actually does present some new information and ideas.
Being fascinated with this subject myself, I’ve read most everything about it that I can get my hands on. When I saw this book I had fears that it would be a compendium of repeated information, but that is not the case. This author has made great strides to correct false information that has been repeated as truth, and to present ideas and back them up with hard evidence. Mr. Fazio asks questions in this writing that I have not seen elsewhere.
I found this to be a well-rounded book, with a good, solid background history. Whether this is your first Lincoln book, or if you have been studying the man and his life and death for some time, this book will have something to offer you.
Some of the points discussed at length in this book are:
The attempts on Lincoln’s life prior to the actual assassination.
Who was who in each circle, the president’s and that of the confederates.
Charles Forbes and his involvement.
A sensible debate over Booth’s supposed jump from the presidential box and his resulting broken leg.
Differences of opinion of historians on multiple events
As well as many more points. I was most impressed by the research this author compiled on Booth. John C. Fazio has presented the most worthwhile description of the man and his motivations that I have seen yet in any book.
There are photos included in this book that I have not seen used in prior books. I also appreciated the author’s view on Spangler and his role in the events.
This is an extensively researched, well-worded book that did more than just repeat a conspiracy theory for the millionth time. I appreciated the author’s approach to presenting information and not attempting to sway the reader in any particular direction.
This would be a perfect choice to introduce this subject to anyone who is just beginning to research it, as well as a great addition to any collector’s library. I was greatly impressed.
This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.