In The Assassin's Accomplice, historian Kate Clifford Larson tells the gripping story of Mary Surratt, a little-known participant in the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln, and the first woman ever to be executed by the federal government of the United States. Surratt, a Confederate sympathizer, ran the boarding house in Washington where the ...
In The Assassin's Accomplice, historian Kate Clifford Larson tells the gripping story of Mary Surratt, a little-known participant in the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln, and the first woman ever to be executed by the federal government of the United States. Surratt, a Confederate sympathizer, ran the boarding house in Washington where the conspirators-including her rebel son, John Surratt-met to plan the assassination. When a military tribunal convicted her for her crimes and sentenced her to death, five of the nine commissioners petitioned President Andrew Johnson to show mercy on Surratt because of her sex and age. Unmoved, Johnson refused-Surratt, he said, "kept the nest that hatched the egg." Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, The Assassin's Accomplice tells the intricate story of the Lincoln conspiracy through the eyes of its only female participant. Based on long-lost interviews, confessions, and court testimony, the text explores how Mary's actions defied nineteenth-century norms of femininity, piety, and motherhood, leaving her vulnerable to deadly punishment historically reserved for men. A riveting narrative account of sex, espionage, and murder cloaked in the enchantments of Southern womanhood, The Assassin's Accomplice offers a fresh perspective on America's most famous murder.
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Publishers Weekly, 2008-04-07 Was Mary Surratt an accomplice in Lincoln's assassination and justly sent to the scaffold? Larson freshly tackles these questions in this spirited narrative, mining just about every shred of evidence. While having started out believing in her subject's innocence, she ends up convinced that Surratt was guilty of joining John Wilkes Booth's plot to kill the president. Less sure, however, that Surratt should have swung from the gallows, Larson (Bound for the Promised Land) leaves this deeply freighted moral question open, as it should be. The tale itself could not be better told, nor could the cast of characters be brought more to life. What mars the work is Larson's maddening, anachronistic use of "Mary" to name her subject (no "Abe" for Lincoln here, no "John" for Booth) and her missing the chance to draw out the implications of the role of Surratt--a widow in an otherwise all-male plot--for our understanding of women's place in her day. But it's now up to those who still think Surratt innocent to prove Larson wrong. They'll be hard put to do so. Illus., maps. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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