narrated on camera by Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks
“As a history major, I wish my required reading had been as well written as this truly vivid and emotionally engaging account of Lincoln's assassination. And as a former combat infantry officer, I found myself running for cover at the Civil War battle scenes. This is the story of an American tragedy that changed the course of history. If you think you know this story, you don't until you’ve read Killing Lincoln. Add historian to Bill O'Reilly's already impressive résumé.”
—Nelson DeMille, author of The Lion and The Gold Coast
“Killing Lincoln is a must read historical thriller. Bill O'Reilly recounts the dramatic events of the spring of 1865 with such exhilarating immediacy that you will feel like you are walking the streets of Washington, DC, on the night that John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln. This is a hugely entertaining, heart-stopping read.”
—Vince Flynn, author of American Assassin
“If Grisham wrote a novel about April 1865…it might well read like Killing Lincoln.”
—Peter J. Boyer, Newsweek
My new book Killing Lincoln is true and truly shocking. It has been 150 years since the beginning of the Civil War, the bloodiest war in our nation's history, a conflict so full of horror it is almost impossible to describe. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, only days after the end of the war, was a terrible tragedy. Much has been speculated about the events leading up to the murder and immediately afterward, but few people know what really happened.
Before historian Martin Dugard and I began writing this book, I thought I understood the facts and implications of the assassination. But even though I am a former teacher of history, I had no clue. The ferocious assassination plan itself still has elements that have not been clarified. This is a saga of courage, cowardice, and betrayal. There are layers of proven conspiracy and alleged conspiracy that will disturb you. You will learn much in these pages, and the experience, I believe, will advance your understanding of our country, and how Lincoln's murder changed it forever.
This book is a departure from the contemporary nonfiction I have written for more than a decade and from the daily news analysis that I do on television. But the lessons you will learn within these pages are relevant to all our lives. For those of us who want to improve the United States and keep it the greatest nation in the world, we must be aware of the true heroes who have made the country great as well as the villains who have besmirched it.
Finally, this book is written as a thriller. But don't let the style fool you. What you are about to read is unsanitized and uncompromising. It is a no spin American story, and I am proud of it.
April 3, 2011
Long Island, New York
The anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America’s Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln’s generous terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln’s dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.
In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies’ man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country’s most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history’s most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.
Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook edition of Killing Lincoln