John Surratt: The Lincoln Assassin Who Got Away

Michael Schein. History, $18.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-933909-96-7
In this gripping true crime thriller, Schein (Just Deceits: A Historical Courtroom Mystery) makes a persuasive case that Confederate leadership was involved in the Lincoln assassination, though he concedes that "at this late date that is beyond definite proof." He notes that unlike in the murder of J.F.K., the unresolved question with respect to Lincoln's death is not whether there was a conspiracy, but who was involved. While he is cautious in his conclusions, Schein convincingly interprets documentary evidence as showing that "all three of the top Confederate leaders were providing active support" to the kidnapping plots led by John Surratt, an admitted Confederate spy, and John Wilkes Booth, which evolved into plans to murder Lincoln. Schein relies heavily on primary sources, including transcripts of Surratt's 1867 trial, which ended in a hung jury, but he does so with an attorney's eye, noting inconsistencies (including conflicting testimony about whether Surratt was in front of Ford's Theater on the fateful night) and witnesses' motives to lie. He also makes clear the embarrassing prosecutorial errors that enabled Surratt to escape justice. Open-minded readers will find Schein's research and arguments thought-provoking. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/18/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Paperback - 978-1-934733-95-0
Paperback - 382 pages - 978-1-934733-99-8
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