In Assassination Vacation, humor writer and history buff Sarah Vowell, perhaps better known as the voice of Violet in The Incredibles, takes readers on a non-fictional tour of the historical sites associated with the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley.
Sure, we all know that Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.. But how many of us know that four conspirators were locked up in a fort in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles off the coast of Key West? It was news to me. Of course I knew that Garfield was not just a lasagna-loving cartoon cat, but also an assassinated president. But I had no idea that he spent two months recuperating from the shooting before he eventually died in New Jersey.
Oddly enough, this book on presidential assassinations feels complete, even without President John F. Kennedy’s fateful day in Dallas. (I bet Vowell could write an entire book on that assassination alone.) Vowell prefers to focus on the 19th century politics and presidents in order to draw parallels to and critiques of the early 21st century political climate. Vowell is a harsh critic of George W. Bush, and her analysis may offend some readers.
Overall, what might be an otherwise dull, dry history tome is instead a humorous, rambling romp through American history and politics. You’ll laugh a lot as you cruise from one obscure historical site to another with cheeky Vowell as your guide.