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domenica, ottobre 02, 2016

American Gothic The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family--Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth by Gene Smith

"My unfortunate brother..."

He had forgotten. For some little seconds he had forgotten what happened and with his mind Edwin was back at the happiest time of his teenage age when he was in company of John.

But that one...was a name that couldn't be named. There was a man very hated in his family: his brother John Wilkes Booth in the night of April 14th 1865 assassinated brutally in a conspiracy the most beloved President of the USA: Abraham Lincoln.

Booth were a family of actors, but you mustn't think for a while that this family was a little family of actors of series B and so one of them did it for desperation, exasperation. No. All the opposite. They were the strongest ones of the USA, very famous, rich and powerful.

Their geniality started with the dad of Edwin and John, Junius Brutus.
Married with a lady in UK, where he lived, he decided to emigrate in the USA where he spent the rest of his life re-meeting another woman with which he has had numerous children.

Real devastation for the first wife and Richard the beloved son born in UK. Richard the son of Junius Brutus discovered the affair once decided to afford to the USA for discovering the New World and making a great surprise at daddy...

Junius Brutus Booth was a man with a great geniality and an extreme passion for alcohol but the most prominent actor existing in the USA.

Edwin and John his children were more than promises: great stars, maybe John the one who, later, would have killed Lincoln, the best one of the two. Edwin told his dad never learnt him anything. He did it all alone on the road.

A wonderful life their ones, plenty of tours in the USA and also outside, great success, they owned theaters, sometimes a life border-line, they were real stars, as it could be now a very famous actor of theater.

But it happened. It happened also in a family like this one where no one should be discontented. One of them decided to shot the President of the USA.
And no one, according to people close to John Wilkes Booth later can understand why he did it.

We know for sure that this young famous actor with a present and future so brilliant and secure thanks to his numerous talents sent all to hell for killing Lincoln, because of some contrasts of ideals with the President. At first the idea in 1864 was to kidnap him but later the group of conspirators gave up.

The idea of Lincoln I developed reading the book was of a very good man. A man conscious of what he was doing for the country and conscious that maybe he could also lose his life killed by an extremist who wouldn't never accepted the abolition of slavery so dear in the South of the USA.

In a way he prepared his family at this event. Lincoln told them till at the nausea that this option wasn't excluded at all.

Although he knew it and he told often to them of the option of the assassination no one was prepared to it.

The devastation of his departure, because he was a very good man, left as always happen in these cases desperation, horror, and people lived without peace for the rest of their lives.
This one maybe the saddest and more understandable drama. The rest of family and friends maybe lived the tragedy thinking that they were just some survivors of this terrible event in a way or in another. Some of them suffered of severed breakdowns, other ones committed crimes as well.

Their life didn't return at any kind of normality for sure and for most of them that episode a real curse.

It was a day like another one that April 14th 1865 for Abraham Lincoln.

He worked, he tried to see who could follow him at the Ford's Theater (located in Washington) that evening where there was "Our American Cousin."
Theater a great passion for this big man.
Some friends refused to follow the presidential couple because busy, his oldest son decided this time of not going, someone else followed him like major Henry Rathbone and miss Clara Harris, the fiancee. The killer at some point afforded close to the box of the President (it was all prepared) and shot him. A bullet ruined the right part of his brain. He was declared dead the day after at 7:22.
The wife completely devastated never returned to the normality and no more found peace.

Is it possible to survive at all of it? In part yes, but for Edwin Booth it was hard like also for the rest of his family. A real curse, able to destroy positive lives after all, successful lives.
Edwin not lived anymore as the best actor of theater at first but like the brother of the man killed Lincoln.
He continued to work until very old but that shadow followed him wherever he went. Some things in a life are unforgettable and you can't forget no more that your brother once killed the President of the USA who tried with all himself to change the country for better. He founded anyway the Players, the society with members like Mark Twain, but also later Hemingway, Herbert Hoover, Humphrey Bogart, Harry Truman, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Dwight Eisenhower, Walter Cronkite, Bing Crosby etc.

John and the other four conspirators killed, after some years the family obtained the body of the young man buried without too many compliments and understandably too much respect.
The corpse was seen by the family. I won't reveal any particular but yes it is true nails and hair grow for other three-four months after our departure.

I find the book hyper informative, greatly exhaustive, linear and a great portrait of the various protagonists on the big stage of life in a crucial moment for the USA. All united by this big passion for theater, that passion later would have brought as in a fiction, at the assassination of the most beloved President of the USA, Lincoln. To him, fatal.

For someone like me who didn't know a lot apart for an article I read on the Boston Globe time ago, this book a great revelation.

I find that Gene Smith the author of American Gothic
The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family--Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth, that will be published this Oct 4th by Open Road Media as an eBook made a super work.
He didn't miss any particular of the life of all these men.

I was contacted by Open Road Media, and they invited me to read this book thanks to NetGalley. I accepted enthusiastically.
Not knowing anything of the topic or just few things, I was thrilled, and trust me I couldn't imagine that the so-called actor who killed the President could be someone so relevant for the art and show of the USA. Living in Italy the American History treated just marginally.
Another thing I want to mention, without to spoil too much of this eBook is that Abraham Lincoln was the first president to being killed in the History of the USA.

I strongly suggest it to you because the book is always exciting and plenty, plenty of informations. Sometimes you will get lost for hyper-information. A great big bravo to the author for this historical research put in a colloquial way for every kind of readers.
The book can be strongly suggest also in case of thesis on the topic, because it's a Bible in this sense and because teenagers won't find it as topic of study enjoying what they will read and being very prepared at the same time.

I thank Open Road Media for the trust :-) and NetGalley! as always.

Anna Maria Polidori

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