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By W.C. Jameson. Taylor Trade Publishing. 208 pages. $22.95
Thursday, August 15, 2013
W.C. Jameson is an award-winning author of 80 books and more than 1,500 articles and essays. However, his latest publication, “John Wilkes Booth: Beyond the Grave,” may provoke more controversy than all of his writings combined.
When he was 10 years old, the future writer became interested in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, following the discovery that they were related. Even more astounding, he was led to believe the outlaw was never captured or killed and went on to live a long life. Utilizing recently discovered documents and diaries found in private collections, Jameson builds a formidable case to support those theories.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that before Lincoln’s assassination, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton plotted with a host of high-ranking government officials to have the president and Vice President Andrew Johnson kidnapped in an attempt to rescue the Republican Party’s wounded reputation and attain a victory in the next presidential election.
One of the men involved, Booth, was a popular actor and well-known in Washington as a Southern sympathizer who hated Lincoln. There were numerous secret meetings and much haggling about how to accomplish their goal.
Then, when the Confederate Army surrendered, an incensed, hard-drinking Booth made several attempts to kill Lincoln and finally succeeded on April 14, 1865. With so many witnesses present, there was never any doubt concerning who pulled the trigger in Ford’s Theatre that night. But beyond the point in time when the assassin galloped away and crossed a bridge into Virginia, the trail grows ever murkier with conflicting accounts at almost every turn of events leading up to Union soldiers surrounding a barn where the man they cornered was felled by a single bullet.
It certainly appears that the effort to capture Booth alive was either inept or that Stanton and the other conspirators wanted him silenced. As many witnesses reported, the man they claimed was him had green eyes, red hair and a long mustache. Yet the actor had dark eyes, black wavy hair and had shaved off his mustache while eluding capture.
Beyond the physical differences between the two men, there are a multitude of discrepancies in all the official reports, enough to stagger one’s imagination, leading any rational thinking person to question whether Jameson’s “John Wilkes Booth: Beyond the Grave” is the most accurate account covering the most written about assassination in American history.
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