Friday, February 2, 2007

Historical Political Travel: Assassination Vacation

I'm currently reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (get it in the remaindered pile at your bookstore now). It's a pretty funny account of Vowell's trips to various locations associated with the past assignations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley; "visiting everything from grave sites and simple plaques (like the one in Buffalo that marks the place where McKinley was shot) to places like the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where fragments of Lincoln's skull are on display." The best part though is Vowell's hilarious wit as she engages in a macabre trip around the country in search of assignation paraphernalia. In the opening of the book she explains how (due to her feelings about the current administration) she can begin to understand how someone decides to kill the president, although she emphasizes that she does not wish anyone to harm Bush. Previously she viewed Booth and others as crazies, but today with animosity towards the president so high, assassination isn't such an alien possibility. And being that those who truly dislike Bush are the same liberals that won't let their kids play with guns and abhor hunting, the idea that some part of them is angry enough to sympathize with killers is off putting. Like waking up one day and saying, "Gee, I don't know why but I really feel like clubbing baby seals". Anyway, it's a fun read with lots of humor and history. Kind of like Bill Bryson meets Dave Bary meets David McCullough.

1 comment:

Steven Solomon said...

Among the most popular anatomical specimens and historical artifacts on display here at the National Museum of Health and Medicine are those related to President Abraham Lincoln. These include the bullet that ended his life, the probe used to locate the bullet, a blood-stained shirt cuff from the museum surgeon who attended the autopsy, and bone fragments and hair from Lincoln's skull. The collection also includes a pencil drawing of the deathbed scene made by the museum's medical illustrator immediately after the removal of Lincoln's body from the house in which he died. Casts of Lincoln's face and hands that were made by Leonard Volks when Lincoln finished his presidential campaign in 1860 are also on display.

Steven Solomon
Public Affairs Officer
National Museum of Health and Medicine,
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,
6900 Georgia Avenue at Elder Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307