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.