Finely detailed and engaging, "Killing Lincoln" will have history buffs mesmerized from beginning to end.
Hosted by Tom Hanks, the two-hour mixture of scripted drama and documentary-style narrative details the months leading up to the murder of Abraham Lincoln. The piece divides its time between Lincoln and his murderer, John Wilkes Booth, through those final months.
Frankly, "Killing Lincoln" sparked my fascination in history again. The book, co-written by Bill O'Reilly, is a page turner, and the TV version (8 p.m. today, National Geographic Channel) never fails to impress on every level.
Here are a few of the nuggets that came out of "Killing Lincoln." (Naturally, like many bits of history, they can be called into question):
Around 1,500 people witnessed the assassination of Lincoln. However, no two accounts matched up.
Tad Lincoln, the president's youngest son, died of heart failure about six years after his father died. Tad was only 18.
Five major plots were formulated to kidnap or kill Lincoln. None of them was significantly executed.
Booth was a well-established actor of his day and was on his way to being an A-list star. Of course we're talking theater since that was the primary venue for actors in those days.
In August of 1864, Lincoln was riding alone in the middle of the night — a habit he apparently enjoyed — when a bullet barely missed him. The bullet left a hole in his hat, though, showing just how close he came to being shot.
On April 2, 1865, just days before his murder, Lincoln dreamed of his own death. Reportedly Lincoln had other such dreams previously. This dream, though, seemed particularly vivid.
Lincoln's Secretary of State was attacked in his home on the same night Lincoln was killed at the theater. The Secretary of State was targeted by Booth and his co-conspirators.
Lincoln was too tall to fit into the bed where he died. Lincoln was 6-foot-4.
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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