Richard Woodward reviews book Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell; photo (M). Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell – New York Times bestselling author of The Wordy Shipmates and contributor to NPR’s “This American Life” Sarah. What do you get when a woman who’s obsessed with death and U.S. history goes on vacation? This wacky, weirdly enthralling exploration of.
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Sarah Vowell exposes the vacxtion conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacationshe takes us on a road trip like no other — a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.
From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Vvacation Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism.
We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial.
The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue aesassination it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and — the author’s favorite — historical tourism. Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are all kinds of lighter diversions along the way into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult.
She lives in New York City. Vowell makes an excellent traveling companion, what with her rare combination of erudition and cheek.
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