Monday, October 09, 2006

Assassination Vacation

by Sarah Vowell
NPR regular Sarah Vowell, with her little-girl voice and quirky essays, may seem like an odd person from whom to get a history lesson. But Assassination Vacation is a truly engaging cross-section of American history, using the assassinations of Lincoln, McKinley, and Garfield as a starting point. Vowell travels across the country, often with friends or family in tow, to visit historical sites and flesh them out with surprising detail. I can't say I ever knew anything about McKinley or Garfield, and I doubt I would normally pick up a book about either President, but after a few dozen pages I was willing to let Vowell take me wherever she went. She's like your favorite aunt-you might not start out sharing her passions, but you know it'll never be boring. (NOTE: My wife and I listened to the audio version, which I highly recommend. Not only do you get Vowell's unique voice, but an odd assortment of celebrities join in, such as Stephen King, Jon Stewart, and Conan O'Brien.)

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