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February 08 , 2009

The Darkest Dawn

Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy


"While waves of laughter echoed through the theater, James Ferguson kept his eyes focused on Abraham Lincoln. Although the president joined the crowd with a ‘hearty laugh,’ his interest seemingly lay more with someone below. With his right elbow resting on the arm of his chair and his chin lying carelessly on his hand, Lincoln parted one of the flags nearby that he might see better.

"As the laughter subsided, Harry Hawk stood on the stage alone with his back to the presidential box. Before he could utter another word, a sharp crack sounded. As the noise echoed throughout the otherwise silent theater, many thought that it was part of the play. But just as quickly, most knew it was not." —from Chapter Twelve

"Among the hundreds of books published about the assassination of our 16th president, this is an exceptional volume.... [It captures] a you-are-there feeling...." —Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum, and member of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission

It was one of the most tragic events in American history: The famous president, beloved by many, reviled by some, murdered while viewing a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington. The frantic search for the perpetrators. The nation in mourning. The solemn funeral train. The conspirators brought to justice. Coming just days after the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln has become etched in the national consciousness like few other events. The president who had steered the nation through its bloodiest crisis was cut down before the end, just as it appeared that the bloodshed was over. The story has been told many times, but rarely with the immediacy of The Darkest Dawn. Thomas Goodrich brings to his narrative the care of the historian and the flair of the fiction writer. The result is a gripping account, filled with detail and as fresh as today’s news.

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