The Day Lincoln Was Shot Essay - Critical Context

Jim Bishop

Critical Context

Although authoritative, The Day Lincoln Was Shot is a book that will appeal to young adults. It was neither intended for the scholar nor written for a young adult audience, although it may appeal to either group. Its popularity with young adults is largely because of the story itself, one of the most dramatic events in American history. The book is also appealing, however, because of Bishop’s narrative style. He treats these true events as a modern suspense story, thus making an interesting segment of history doubly fascinating.

Although the book contains a comprehensive account of these twenty-four hours in history, it also raises many interesting questions in the young reader’s mind. Such a reader may wonder about the details of Booth’s apprehension; about the real truth regarding Mary E. Surratt, the woman who was hanged; about what was said in newspapers and church sermons that Black Easter Sunday following the assassination; and about where Lincoln was buried. The fact that such questions are raised is an indication of the book’s quality and of its value for young adults. It is certain to stimulate further interest in Lincoln, the assassination conspiracy, and the Civil War. It is important to be aware, however, that writers of history or biography must select from a multitude of facts. Thus, even though this is an immensely readable book on a highly interesting and significant topic, it is only one of the books on the subject of Lincoln to which young readers should be exposed.