Adventures in Reading

Nonfiction: Assassin’s Accomplice by Kate Clifford Larson, 2008

“…the Assassin’s Accomplice will recover a little-known chapter in American history: the full and dramatic account of the life and trial of Mary Surratt, the woman who nurtured and helped cultivate the conspiracy to kill President Abraham Lincoln.”

Most school age children in the United States can tell you that President Lincoln was killed at Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth, but did you also know that a conspiracy surrounded the assassination that would lead to the execution of four additional individuals including Mary Surratt — the first woman to be executed by the United State’s government?

Kate Clifford Larson’s The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surrat and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln is part biography, part true crime testament, and part social commentary on the dichotomous roles of women in the Civil War era. Mary Surrat was a widow, land owner, and Southern sympathizer during the war, though she lived in the precariously positioned Maryland. Larson’s research began with the supposition that Mary was not entirely guilty and did not deserve the death penalty, but her research unveils exactly how deep into the conspiracy Mary was.

What I love about The Assassin’s Accomplice is the simple readability. It’s such an interesting topic and Larson conveys the story in such an interesting manner. This is definitely a nonfiction work that was written to be enjoyed by the reader and targeted at a much wider audience than fellow historians. Additionally, the book adds some interesting humanity to the assassination of Lincoln and the trial that followed.

Conclusion: Keeper.



I haven’t heard a word about this one, but it sounds fantastic.

Comment by Andi

Andi: I don’t think I would have ever discovered it, but a friend of mine is a Civil War history buff and told me it was a must read.

Comment by bookchronicle

Glad to hear you liked it–I have been reading really great things about this one lately and will be adding it to my wishlist!

Comment by Trish

If you are interested in this book and live in Boston, please come to an upcoming author talk at the Boston Athenaeum…

The Boston Athenæum presents a book talk by Kate Clifford Larson, author of The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln, on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public, but reservations are required at (617) 720-7600. The cost is $15. The Boston Athenæum is located at 10 ½ Beacon Street on Beacon Hill near the State House. For more information, visit or call (617) 227-0270.

Comment by Kirsten Alexander

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