That O’Reilly Book on Lincoln

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Quite a few people have written me asking my opinion of Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Lincoln. I did waste the money on the book and read it. There is nothing at all in the book — not a single word — about the Lincoln presidency, the war, or even Lincoln’s political speeches. Nothing. It is merely an excruciatingly boring, minute-by-minute narrative of the daily events in the five days or so before the assassination. There is not one original passage in the entire book since it is entirely based on the dozens of other books that have been written on the same subject, but without a single footnote, reference, or bibliographical reference. I assume the book is a big seller because O’Reilly has a very big mouth, a very big ego, and his own television program. The book is so void of substance that I couldn’t think of how to review it on LRC in a way that anyone would find remotely interesting.

One of the sillier aspects of O’Reilly’s book that is shared with almost all other Lincoln hagiographies is that he pretends to know what was in the mind of Lincoln when he did this or that. There are numerous phrases like “what he was thinking as he entered the White House was . . .. ” as though it is possible to read the mind of a man who died 150 years ago (or yesterday, for that matter).

10:35 am on November 11, 2012