Assassination Vacation

  • by Sarah Vowell
  • Narrated by Conan O'Brien, Stephen King, Dave Eggers, Jon Stewart
  • 7 hrs and 24 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she 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 Dry 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, 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 lighter diversions into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a 19th-century biblical sex cult.
In Order of Appearance:Conan O'Brien...Robert Todd Lincoln Eric Bogosian...John Wilkes BoothStephen King...President Abraham LincolnDave Eggers...Mike Ryan Catherine Keener...Gretchen Worden Jon Stewart...President James A. GarfieldTony Kushner...John Humphrey NoyesBrad Bird...Charles Guiteau & Emma GoldmanDaniel Handler...President William McKinleyGreg Giraldo...President Theodore Roosevelt David Rakoff...Leon Czolgosz


What the Critics Say

2005 Audie Award Nominee, Multi-Voiced Performance
2005 Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, Humor
"Vowell has a perspective on American history that is definitely funny." (School Library Journal) "Wacky, weirdly enthralling....This is history at its most morbid and most fascinating and, fortunately, one needn't share Vowell's interest in the macabre to thoroughly enjoy this unusual tour." (Publishers Weekly) "An engaging tour....Audiobook listeners get serious bang for their buck, including guest appearances by Stephen King (as Lincoln), Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, and Eric Bogosian, among others." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A lovely story about assassination and family

What did you like most about Assassination Vacation?

The little details.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Assassination Vacation?

Robert Todd Lincoln rejuvenating the life of the brother of the murderer of the his father.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

See above

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Robert Todd Lincoln's fear of presidential death

Any additional comments?

These are lovely books telling a story we only hear mentioned.

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- Amazon Customer

Hard to follow...

I really bought this for the grim but light hearted look on the history of presidential assasinations that this book promised as well as the fact that it has many famous narrators. Unfortunately the main narrator has a very distinctive voice which after a while, and bearing in mind this might just be me, but it does begin to grate a little. In fact after a about 5 hours i found that i could not concentrate on the audio because of how her voice comes across. Also, unless your listening really hard you do miss most of the other voices of the other people - theres no announcement they just come in say there bit and then disappear. I also felt that many of the wacky anecdotes seemed to be crushed together with no split or pause between them and i never knew which president she was referring to and at what time. I may have to give this another listen as I was fairly interested in the topic but for now my rating remains at a low one star :(
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- G. Evans

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-04-2005
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio