Assassination Editions of Smithsonian Magazine

Lincoln assassination Smithsonian Magazines 2015

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Smithsonian has published two different editions of their magazine with articles relating to the event.

The normal, March 2015, subscriber issue of Smithsonian Magazine features the image of Booth’s derringer on the cover.  Contained in this issue are four articles about different aspects of the assassination.  These articles can be read online through the Smithsonian website:

The second magazine is a special collector’s edition devoted entirely to the assassination story.  This is a stand alone issue featuring images of Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth on the cover.  It contains articles by noted authors Michael Kauffman, Edward Steers, Jr., James Swanson, Asia Booth Clarke, Lloyd Lewis, Jay Winik, Doris Kearns Goodwin and more.  Many of the articles are edited excerpts from the books by the different authors, but the magazine still provides a multifaceted look at the story and impact of Lincoln’s assassination.  The edition is thoroughly illustrated with period images and with the work of several modern artists.  One of my favorite illustrations in the magazine is this “assemblage” image of the conspirators by artist Polly Becker.  It is somewhat reminiscent of the original “Ring of Conspirators” image from Benn Pitman’s edition of the trial:

Conspirators by Polly Becker

Conspirators by Polly Becker

Sadly, the articles contained in this special collector’s edition of the Smithsonian Magazine are not available to read online.

Both of these magazines are currently on sale at newsstands and bookstores.  Attendees of this year’s Surratt Conference on March 21st, will also be able to purchase copies of these magazine there.  Time, of course, is limited to acquire both of these magazines.  The normal March issue featuring Booth’s derringer will be replaced by the April issue in less than a month’s time, and the special collector’s edition has a note to newsstands to only display it until May 17th.

In the spirit of my previous giveaway of the book, John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Art Loux, I am offering a free copy of both of these magazines to one lucky commenter on this blog.  Given the many authors involved in producing these magazines, I thought it would be fun to have you all discuss your favorite Lincoln assassination book.

Therefore, if you would like to win a free copy of both, the March 2015 issue and the special 150th anniversary issue of Smithsonian Magazine, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post describing what book on the Lincoln assassination is your favorite and why.  In one week’s time, on March 7th, I will pick one of the commenters at random to receive a free copy of these two magazines.

So get commenting below for your chance to win a free copy of these assassination editions of Smithsonian Magazine courtesy of The contest is now over. You may continue to comment, but any new comments will not be entered into any drawing.  Thank you all for participating.

Contest Rules: To win a copy of a.) the March 2015 issue of Smithsonian Magazine and b.) the “Special 150th Anniversary Issue” of Smithsonian Magazine, you must write one (1) comment on this post describing your favorite book on the Lincoln assassination and why it is your favorite. A valid email address must be attached to the comment in order to win. Multiple comments from the same person will be counted as one entry.  Contest will end on March 7, 2015 at 20:00 EST.  The winner will be notified via email.  If no response is received within three (3) days, a new winner will be chosen.  In the event that the winner chooses to forfeit the prize, another winner will be selected.  Winners agree to have their name and comment used in a future post.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 31 Comments

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31 thoughts on “Assassination Editions of Smithsonian Magazine

  1. I have read a lot and I mean a lot of books on the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and any books on
    John Wilkes Booth and my favorite by far is “The Last Confederate Heroes” by William L. Richter. I feel
    like each of the characters lived again and breathed again. This is my favorite because it delves into the
    the assassination from a side which is often swept aside: The Confederate side. The research is detailed. It is an unapologetic must read for people who want to see how the “Heroes” actually came to the deed of assassination. It also shows how the confederate government was involved based on a book by authors Tidwell, Hall, and Gaddy called “Come Retribution”. William Richter has done a fantastic job with this book!!

    • Thanks for commenting, Ennette! William “Wild Bill” Richter is a consummate historian. Even his historical fiction books like “The Last Confederate Heroes” are footnoted and referenced to a T. His new book, “The Assassinator: The Trial and Hanging of John Wilkes Booth” is a great read also.

  2. George

    This is the link to the goings on at Ford’s Theater on the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination

  3. Kathy

    Cool, Dave. Thanks for letting everyone know about them.

  4. theosfan2012

    The best book related to the assassination in my opinion is “20 Days” by Dorothy and Phil Kunhardt. The copy I have has been in my mothers family since she was a girl. She would look at the pictures and read the captions underneath the photos. It was passed down to me when I was nine, which was right around the time I began researching the assassination. Like my mother, I started looking at the pictures. I wanted to find out more so I read the whole book and the rest is history. I am now 18, and researching the Lincoln assassination is one of my favorite hobbies. I will always remember “20 Days” as the book that made me a Boothie. Thanks to that book I was “busted” by a member of the Surratt Society in September 2014 while on the Booth escape route tour at Ford’s Theater spouting out everything the ranger was going to say in his upcoming ranger talk. At the Mudd house, people were surprised when I said that Booth shaved his mustache there in an attempt to disguise himself. I hope to release my first research paper on the assassination at the Lincoln Tribute in April and look forward to sharing knowledge with other people there. I know if we meet we will have a lot to talk about, Dave.

    • Thanks for commenting, Tom. Twenty Days is a wonderful book with extremely vivid illustrations. It is an excellent starter into the field of Lincoln’s assassination and funeral.


  5. Paul Hancq

    Manhunt, by James L. Swanson. It is a riveting book. I had trouble putting it down.

  6. Gene C

    For me the best book is “20 Days.” And what makes it so good are the pictures. No longer were the people involved just names on a page. They had faces, you can almost feel their personalities and the stress they were enduring. It made the places and people real, not just characters in a story. Even today, after all these years and books about the assassination, if someone who has little or no knowledge of the assassination asks me what book to read first, it’s “20 Days”. It is in a class by itself.

    • Gene,

      I am also a very visual learner. I love pictures and I am always seeking out new images. I completely understand and share your affinity for Twenty Days.

      By the way, have you ever read Swanson and Weinberg’s “picture book”, Lincoln’s Assassins. It, too, is a wonderfully visual look at the assassination story.



  7. Although I have now more than 60 assassination books, my favorite is still The Day Lincoln Was Shot. It’s not to heavy on facts and leaves the many conspiracy theories alone. I always recommend it to anyone interested in the event as the best entry level read there is. (For an off the grid read and if you can find it, Roy Chamlee’s Lincoln’s Assassination is great.)

    • It’s amazing to me how many people became Lincoln aficionados because of Jim Bishop’s classic The Day Lincoln Was Shot. It is an extremely well written book and, even after all these years, brings people to the story.

      Thanks for commenting, David, and keep up the great work on your film:


  8. mike

    I loved The Web of Conspiracy when I was in elementary school but as an adult I really enjoyed American Brutus. Michael Kauffman made me feel like I was there and knew the players. Amazing work.

    • Mike,

      I will admit my own bias and appreciation for Michael Kauffman’s almost encyclopedic American Brutus. By reading its pages, you can clearly tell Mr. Kauffman has spent a lifetime engrossed in amazing research.


  9. Steve

    If I were to choose a favorite book about the subject, I guess it would be Blood on the Moon by Edward Steers. My parents mailed it to me as either a birthday or Christmas present right before I deployed to Iraq when I was in the Army. Reading it made me want to research more about Booth and the assassination. And a desire to examine all of the bits of evidence from different perspectives.

    • Steve,

      I love your quote about having, “a desire to examine all of the bits of evidence from different perspectives.” I share this same desire which is what motivated me to start this blog. Booth’s act deserves the condemnation it receives, but there is still great value in examining his perspective in order to understand his crime better.

      Thank you so much for commenting.


  10. I don’t need copies of the magazines since I already have them :-), but I would like to call out that my interest in the Lincoln Assassination began after a 1976 family trip to Ford’s Theater. Walking through the doors, I felt – at the age of 10 – that I had been there before. Without having seen any photos in books or the encyclopedia (no internet back then), I knew what lay behind each door, up the spiral staircase and the views from the dress circle. No, I do not think I am the reincarnation of either Lincoln or Booth, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was there once. I told my grandmother about it on the trip and she bought me Jim Bishop’s “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” at a bookstore across the street. Since then, I’ve been hooked!

    I would say that my favorite book now is “Manhunt”, and I also love “American Brutus”. My favorite blog? THIS ONE, of course.

    • Dop,

      I’m lucky you already own the magazines since my ego was tempted to just give them to you due to your flattery! Thank you for the nice words.

      It’s amazing that you have such an instinctive connection to the assassination story. I know of others, like you, for which parts of the drama feel extremely intimate and personal. Who’s to say you weren’t present the night Lincoln was shot, in some form or another. What’s important is that you realize the importance of and connect with this story. The ability to find something you’re passionate towards and connected to is a truly marvelous thing.

      Thanks for commenting. For those of you who don’t know, Dop was kind enough to send me his vacation pictures from his trip to Fort Jefferson: Thanks again, Dop!


  11. Emily M

    I echo the review of Manhunt – I listened to it on CD in my car and it was riveting!

    • Thanks, Emily. Manhunt is very much this generation’s The Day Lincoln was Shot. Both are hugely popular and work to bring people into the story.


  12. Carlee Chew

    The one and only book I have read so far about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination is Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with Lincoln and the events leading up to and after his murder. I just learned about the collectors edition from the normal edition I already receive. I just finished reading the blood relics article and it hurt my heart hearing how every year on the anniversary of his death, there is no one there to remember this wonderful man! I would have gone if I could but I am horrible with directions so I would need someone to take me. But being as though this year is the 150 anniversary, I have begged my parents to take me for my 20th birthday present. This is all I want. To visit the place where one of the greatest men to ever live, took his last breath; and to honor him the way he should be honored every year.

    • Carlee,

      Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer is a great place to start. Thanks for sharing it. I wouldn’t worry too much about Lincoln not getting the recognition and remembrances he deserves. Mr. Swanson visits Ford’s Theatre at night at about the time of the assassination. He admits that few, if any, people show up then to join him. However, if Mr. Swanson would wait a few hours, he would find that a far better way of remembering Lincoln occurs the next morning. Every year at 7:22 am on April 15th (the moment when Lincoln died) the Park Service conducts a wreath laying ceremony. In my mind, this is a better time and venue to remember Lincoln’s final sacrifice.

      Thanks for commenting!


  13. Ed Cunningham

    May I humbly nominate “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” by Osborn H. Oldroyd, Heritage Books, 2007. This book was written by Oldyoyd in 1901 as he literally walked the Booth escape route. He talked to many of the people who helped Booth, who were still living in 1901. The maps are old but very accurate and interesting and his conclusions are fantastic and compelling. Oldroyd was a “Lincoln Scholar” before Holzer was born. He lived in Lincoln’s Springfield house for 9 years prior to writing the book. He visited Zechariah Swamp and stayed in the swamp to see what it was like for JWB and Herrold. He visited Mudd’s house and talked to Mudd’s family. I think any scholar of the assassination must read this book and I nominate it to win the award, since I subscribed it takes 4-10 weeks to deliver, so I may not get the issues mentioned. Best wishes and I LOVE this website.

  14. Tom

    The very first Lincoln assasination book that I read is still my favorite – Jim Bishop’s “The Day Lincoln Was Shot”. I still have my well worn 1964 Perennial Library edition. I like it for all of the reasons David said earlier, but mostly because I can still remember how completely drawn-in and entranced I was by it, having not read anything like it before. I’m sure there are better researched and written books out there now, but this is the one that started my whole interest in this subject.

    • Tom,

      You are far from alone. The Day Lincoln Was Shot seems to be the book for so many who have become interested in the assassination story. Thank you for commenting!


  15. Robert

    I have 3 favorites. Twenty Days. It is a collectors edition copy right 1965, Blood on the Moon and Manhunt. To describe my reasons in print would take more time than I could imagine. I will say of all the books I have read about Lincoln and the assassination, I feel these are the most accurate. I am more interested in archival material than opinion and theory. If I had to pick one, it would be Twenty Days.

    • Robert,

      The trio of books you mention are all excellent. Dr. Steers did a wealth of research on Blood on the Moon, and it clearly shows. Thank you for commenting.


  16. Paul Fisher

    After glancing over my growing bookshelf of assassination literature (thankfully, my wife is very forgiving), my eye keeps stopping on “They Have Killed Papa Dead” by Anthony Pitch. Having just finished this new addition to my library, I felt that it wonderfully conveyed the story of the assassination without being dry and plodding, an important characteristic of books on history. It succeeded in not being just another book on Lincoln’s assassination. Easily on par with Kauffman, Steers, and Swanson with respect to scholarship and readability. Admittedly it is hard to truly pick a favorite. Too many good ones out there.

  17. Bill Binzel

    My favorite book is Come Retribution, because it was a real game-changer. While there are many excellent books on what happened, CR was the first serious investigation into why it happened. So much of the “traditional history” theories of Booth’s motivation; his travels in late-1864 and early-1865; his introduction to Dr. Mudd and John Surratt; the recruitment of the other conspirators; the course of his escape and the assistance he received; the notion of being just a “crazy, drunk Southern Sympathizer”; etc., simply did not seem plausible. For me (and I suspect others), CR did more to stimulate my thinking and re-examination of what I thought I knew about Lincoln’s assassination than any other single book. While it may not have all the answers (and its authors would likely be the first to admit that), I believe that Come Retribution has influenced the authors who have come after it, and will have a greater influence on research into the assassination over the next 50 years than any other one book had in shaping it in the first 100 years.

  18. Pingback: Winner of the Assassination Editions of Smithsonian Magazine | BoothieBarn

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