My Thoughts Be Bloody…and witty and bright?

The Sunday Salon.comThis past week wasn’t a great one for reading. However, I did finish one book: Wycliffe and the Last Rites by W.J. Burley and I started My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy by Nora Titone on Friday night. The Wycliffe book was okay, though, not great, and the book about the Booth brothers is good so far, although I don’t know if the author will convince me completely of her thesis, as fascinating as it is.

Click on cover to browse inside the book.

Her thesis is that when John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, he was motivated not just by the war between the North and the South, but also by the bitter rivalry he had with his brother to become a star of the theater like their father before them. Even though I might not be convinced by the end, so far I’m finding the story intriguing, beginning with Edwin Booth’s death and then Junius Booth Sr.’s coming to America with his mistress and the Booth brothers’ mother, Mary Ann Holmes. If nothing else, I’m learning about a period of history I know little about beyond having a class on the Civil War and Reconstruction in college more than 15 years ago. It also is good becoming reacquainted with an old friend: history, especially American history.

Since this is such a tome, weighing in at nearly 600 pages even on e-book, I probably am going to break my rule of being a monogamous reader and dip into something a bit less hefty at the same time. I’m not sure yet exactly what I’ll read in addition to My Thoughts Be Bloody, but I’m thinking I might continue Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series or Lawrence Block’s Burglar/Bernie Rhodebarr series or maybe even start Block’s Matthew Scudder series.  Of course, I’ll let you know by Wednesday’s Midweek Review what I chose.


This past week my wife and I have fallen in love with That Mitchell and Webb Look which we’ve discovered on Netflix. We already were familiar with the comedic duo’s work in Peep Show, but had no idea about this series. I’ll leave you today with this literary skit from Mitchell and Webb:

What’s the last book about American history you’ve read? Do you read nonfiction otherwise? I confess this book on the Booth brothers is my first nonfiction book in quite a while. What are you reading today, this week, this month?

12 responses to “My Thoughts Be Bloody…and witty and bright?

  1. I have read quite a bit about the War of 1812 because of the bicentennial this year (and where I live). So that’s my history read so far. I am curious since you are reading about the Lincoln assassination if you have also read James Swanson’s books about it including “Manhunt”? And if so, what did you think? cheers.

  2. I love history of all kinds. It has been ages since I read any American historical nonfiction though. I’ve been hitting European history pretty hard these days. The Booth thesis sounds quite interesting. I know the Booths were on par with the Barrymores later on as far as famous theatrical families. Jealousy can make people do the most insane things.

  3. Okay, you’re the 3rd person I’ve heard talking about this. Now I think I have to check out That Mitchell and Webb Look on Netflix!

  4. Hmmm, history… It’s been a while! I have been dipping in and out of a collection of John and Abigail Adam’s letters to each other for over a year now. I also loved A Thousand Lives – which was about the Jonestown Massacre – but that’s more modern history.

  5. I love history, I actually love it so much it’s my undergraduate major! The last American History book I read was Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative. It’s a three volume set and it’s very much in depth and I learned much more about the Civil War in those three volumes than I did in the Civil War History class I took at GWU.

    I do read other non-fiction books, as you know, last year, I tackled Karl Marx’s Capital, and I also tackled The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

    Early this morning I finished reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and this week, I’m hoping to finish my reading of David Eddings’s The Belgariad.

    I certainly hope you enjoy My Thoughts Be Bloody. I’m definitely interested in seeing what you think of it. It may be something I might tackle down the road.

  6. I love history! In fact I did grad work in Medieval and Early Modern European history many years ago. For awhile, almost all the NF I was reading was Medieval history (even when not for class) but now my tastes are more eclectic. The last NF book I read that wasn’t for work was In the Garden of Beasts (by Erik Larson) – which I thought was okay; but just okay. A couple of years ago, I worked on The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (narrated by Grover Gardner) and after that, the Nazi Germany histories that I’ve come across seem a bit lacking.

    I did just read and listen to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – though why plays are put in NF areas baffles me. Plays are fiction. In this case, Shakespeare based his play on history; but took liberties with the timeline and actual events.

    I have three NFs in my listening queue that covers the next couple of months: The 4% Universe (by Richard Panek; narrated by Ray Porter;) My Korean Deli (by Ben Ryder Howe; narrated by Bronson Pinchot) and; My Dog Tulip (by J.R. Ackerley; narrated by Ralph Cosham.)

    In print, I just rediscovered A Short History of Byzantium (by John Julius Norwich) on my NF shelves. I had started this many years ago and dropped when Real Life got in the way; but I think I’ll pick it back up again. Its an abridgment of the three-volume work that JJN also wrote; but chances are I’m not ever going to get to the unabridged material. With “The Short History” I’ll rad a chapter a week and; it’ll still take me about 6 months :-/

    • After The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, all World War II history seems lacking, I understand. It’s hard for me to read World War II history as a result. When you’ve read the best, it’s hard to go backward…same with World War I history: having read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.

      Bronson Pinchot as a narrator? Hmmm, that sounds interesting.

      I don’t think this one will take me six months, but I have a feeling it might take me at least a week or maybe even (gasp! 😉 ) two.

      • Yeah, Bronson! And it turns out he’s pretty good! He won and Audie Award (industry version of the Oscars) a couple of years ago for The Learners (by Chip Kidd) and; blew me way with his narration of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (by Karl Marlantes.) He’s up for 5 Audies this year! But if you’re looking for “Balki” you’ll have to go somewhere else 🙂

        A few years ago I worked on Eleventh Hour, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Day (by Joseph E. Persico) and became very much interested in WWI history. This war tends to get short shrift in schools and even in the War History Museum in WDC; but I find it fascinating. I have The Guns of August here in both print and audio. Maybe this summer I’ll get to The Proud Tower, The Zimmermann Telegram and The Guns of August. I read A Distant Mirror last year and, while I was baffled at her insistently adeistic approach that stripped religious motivations from people of faith (and then her criticism of their seemingly irrational actions) I did find it interesting.

  7. I just finished reading a book that was only 300 pages. It felt so long that I think I need to read a novella next.

    I think the last book that I read about American history was probably the graphic adaptation of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States last year.I read non-fiction but not often. Have a great week.

    • Most of the books I read are around 200 or maybe 250 at the most, so this one is a bit daunting for me. I’ve always wanted to read Zinn’s book, but just haven’t gotten to it.

  8. Yes, I often have to read other books along with the hefty ones. Sometimes those take a really long time to read!


    Like your new header….