Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Booknotes: John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him

New Arrival:
John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him by E. Lawrence Abel
  (Regnery History, 2018).

It's well known that presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth did okay with the ladies. John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him is both a study of his female relationships and collection of fairly lengthy biographical inquiries into the lives of those known to or alleged to have been romantically involved with him. The book's 39 chapter headings feature a long list of names, but the dramatis personae at the front lists fifteen women.

From the description: "Before he shot the president of the United States and entered the annals of history as a killer, actor John Wilkes Booth had quite a way with women. There was the actress who cut his throat and almost killed him in a jealous rage. There was the prostitute who tried to kill herself because he abandoned her. There was the actress who would swear she witnessed him murdering Lincoln, even though she was thousands of miles away at the time. John Wilkes Booth was hungry for fame, touchy about politics, and a notorious womanizer. But this book isn't about John Wilkes Booth---not really. This book is about his women: women who were once notorious in their own right; women who were consumed by love, jealousy, strife, and heartbreak; women whose lives took wild turns before and after Lincoln's assassination; women whom have been condemned to the footnotes of history... until now."

Apparently, after Booth was shot and captured five photographs of women (one being his fiancee, Lucy Hale, the rest stage actresses) were discovered in his pockets.  As mentioned above, the book explores their lives among many others, including what courses they took after Booth's death. Also, examined is Booth's troubled family history and "the part a sexually transmitted disease played" in his determination to kill the president.

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