cover image In the Line of Fire: Presidents' Lives at Stake

In the Line of Fire: Presidents' Lives at Stake

Judith St George. Holiday House, $22.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1428-4

The grim but compelling details surrounding the four successful and seven unsuccessful assassination attempts on the lives of American presidents are the focus of St. George's (Sacagawea) latest offering. Four chapters focus on the deaths of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy, with the most attention paid to suspenseful reenactments of their assassinations and death scenes, including information on the assassins, the vice-presidents who were thrust into the country's highest office and an analysis of the effects of each president's death on the country. Historical engravings illustrate the fatal encounters of the first three presidents, with photographs and illustrations of funeral scenes providing the somber note in McKinley's and Kennedy's chapters. While St. George never sensationalizes the deaths, the dramatic way in which she relates the events at times undercuts the gravity of the fact that actual human lives were lost (Kennedy's chapter retains the greatest immediacy). Perhaps most interesting of all is the fifth and final chapter, which includes brief sketches of botched or foiled assassination attempts against Andrew Jackson (whose assassin believed himself to be King Richard III of England), Theodore Roosevelt (who, rather than going to the hospital after being shot, gave a stump speech) and five other presidents. Since readers may be less familiar with these accounts, this last chapter will likely prove to be the most involving and revealing. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)