The Unsolicited Confessions of J Wilkes Booth
J F Pennington
In 1890, actor John Wilkes Booth – long presumed dead – emerged from twenty-five years of anonymity in his wilderness refuge to expose those truly responsible for the Lincoln assassination and its ensuing cover-up, to unite with the children he had never known and recover what he might of his sense of purpose and dignity.
After shooting President Abraham Lincoln, Booth fled into the night, and government reports claimed he was killed twelve days later. But the man who was shot in the head and burned in a tobacco-shed fire before being covertly transported to Washington was never fully identified. Friends, as well as members of America’s premier family of the theatre of which he was a member, were barred from even viewing the body, the only photograph taken of the corpse was never printed, and then lost, and a strangely ceremonious martial court presided over a secret burial. Rumour immediately began to circulate: Booth was still alive.
In Lincoln’s Assassin, Jeffrey Pennington presents Booth’s own story of flight and return, detailing how another was shot in his place as he escaped to nominal freedom and obscurity, leaving behind all his personal belongings and the stage-life he once knew. The larger conspiracy in which he was embroiled is unpicked in stylish fashion, exploring the political landscape in which Lincoln lived and died. Written in a confessional style, it aims to offer an insight into the true motivations at the heart of the Lincoln assassination, an event that continues to be the subject of much theorising and interest.