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Extended Audio Sample Assassination Vacation Audiobook, by Sarah Vowell Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (21,735 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sarah Vowell Narrator: Conan O’Brien, Dave Eggers, Stephen King, Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2005 ISBN: 9780743550291
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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 nineteenth-century biblical sex cult.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A learned, engagingly discursive, funny, sometimes even jolly ramble—literally—through the landscape of American presidential assassinations…Vowell makes an excellent traveling companion, what with her rare combination of erudition and cheek.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A funny and engaging history that revels in irony and morbid minutiae.” 

    Bookmarks

  • “A wacky, weirdly enthralling exploration of the first three presidential assassinations. Vowell…takes readers on a pilgrimage of sorts to the sites and monuments that pay homage to Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, visiting everything from grave sites and simple plaques to places like the National Museum of Health and Medicine…An expert tour guide, Vowell brings into sharp focus not only the figures involved in the assassinations but the social and political circumstances that led to each—and she does so in the witty, sometimes irreverent manner that her fans have come to expect.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Sarah Vowell, the NPR commentator with a childlike voice, provides an engaging tour of historic sites associated with presidential assassinations…More than a history lesson, Vowell’s work looks at how men of violence have forced themselves upon history, changing the course of politics and power. Audiobook listeners get serious bang for their buck, including guest appearances by Stephen King, Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, and Eric Bogosian, among others.”

    AudioFile

  • “Vowell has a perspective on American history that is definitely funny…There is much to enjoy.”

    School Library Journal

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Audie Award Finalist in 2006
  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Graham | 1/22/2014

    " This was a lot of fun. I like history, especially that of American presidents, and Sarah Vowell is my kind of quirky. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebecca MA | 1/12/2014

    " This book talks about the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, but really focuses on Lincoln, with facts throughout the whole book. I learned a lot about all of the assassinations in this book, and in particular about Lincoln. There were a lot of stories that just don't get told in the history books. However, I found that chapters were way too long and it was a bit wordy, so I found it hard to follow and at times a bit dry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine Smith | 1/5/2014

    " Humorous and factual, a wonderful way to learn history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colleen | 12/28/2013

    " Sarah Vowell manages to make this book about presidential assassinations simultaneously informative and hysterical - my favorite kind of book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 12/22/2013

    " This amused me because I like to visit presidential libraries on my vacations. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynnie | 12/16/2013

    " I love history, particularly civil war history and siteseeing. The author does have a sense of humor at times but loses herself in her ramblings. I also don't agree with some of the Northern leanings "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy Breeding | 12/9/2013

    " Great fun! Sarah Vowel looks back at the assassinated presidents without forgetting that she is very much a 21st century writer. My only gripe: I wish I could remember all the dates. And Chester Arthur? I too long for uninterrupted reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 12/2/2013

    " Funny, insightful and quirky. What else does one expect from Sarah? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lianne | 11/19/2013

    " this is one of my favorite authors and favorite books. sarah vowell has a way of making history something personal, rather than a far away concept. her writings are often humorous and always interesting "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 11/6/2013

    " Clever, humorous writing on the assassination of 3 presidents. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erica | 10/18/2013

    " I guess I'm not as into dead Presidents as I'm into Puritans. Entertaining read, nonetheless. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cwelshhans | 1/10/2013

    " This book was both informative and interesting. I learned a ton of arcane, but totally interesting facts. And I really enjoyed the conversational tone and occasional tangents. It made me want to read more of Vowell's work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie | 12/27/2012

    " Interesting read. Who know Robert Todd Lincoln figured in the first three presidential assassinations in this country?!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lara | 9/3/2012

    " I think this book is funny. I laughed out loud more than ten times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cassandra | 7/6/2012

    " I listened to this audio-book while at work. I never knew so much about presidential assassins and their respective presidents until I read this book. It is a very interesting read, indeed. I like how she describes her visits to the various sites with her nephew. :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew Cassin | 6/14/2012

    " Who knew assassination could be so fun? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 4/30/2012

    " If only all non-fiction were this accessible. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 3/22/2012

    " This is what I wish all historical non-fiction was like! Funny, personable, and not afraid to leave out the gritty (and silly) details. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Regina | 3/17/2012

    " I wonder what it would be like to be so obsessed with something like the assassinations of presidents that you would have to visit each place? There was some interesting info in this book, and Sarah Vowell's writing voice is very singular, for sure. I enjoyed it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shannon | 1/11/2012

    " I laughed, cried and learned. Wonderful, wonderful book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janice | 7/20/2011

    " I love travel books. This is a travel book that reads like a novel. Fun! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan Thoman | 6/9/2011

    " I really enjoy Vowell's dry sense of humor and how her quirkiness comes through in her writing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sara | 6/7/2011

    " I thought this book was a stinker! The information could be interesting...I enjoy history. But, I hated it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 5/15/2011

    " I love her macabre nerdiness. And her fondness for reading historical plaques. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb | 5/12/2011

    " I checked out the mp3 mostly because I loved The Wordy Shipmates...and wasn't too sure about the subject matter. Delivered good entertainment and some interesting side trips into history via connections to presidential assasins. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sondra | 5/10/2011

    " When has history ever been this chatty and fun and at the same time irreverently reverent? I just dont know! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dede | 5/9/2011

    " I listened to this book, read by the author. That made it especially entertaining despite her annoying voice. The book read like a really long This American Life podcast. She occasionally seemed to drift way off topic, but it was still good and kookily educational. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katie | 5/8/2011

    " I could not stand the author's style in this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 5/5/2011

    " I liked her style, but I'm just not very interested in history... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liz | 5/1/2011

    " Loved it!

    Joanna needs to read this :)
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzanne | 4/28/2011

    " brilliant! i knew it was great when i gave it to my then 13 year old, and lost her in teh bathtub for a few hours!!1 "

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About the Author
Author Sarah VowellSarah Vowell is a contributing editor for public radio's This American Life and has written for Time, Esquire, GQ, Spin, Salon, McSweeneys, The Village Voice, and the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Radio On, Take the Cannoli, and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. She lives in New York City.
About the Narrators
DAVE EGGERS is the author of ten books, including the national best sellers The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco. Eggers is the cofounder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country, and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools, and donors to make college possible. He lives in Northern California with his family.

Stephen King lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. He has written more than forty books and two hundred short stories. He has won the World Fantasy Award, several Bram Stoker Awards, and the O. Henry Award for his story “The Man in the Black Suit.” He is the 2003 recipient of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Chris Smith is a contributing editor at New York, where he has covered politics, sports, and entertainment. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Brooklyn.

Jon Stewart is a comedian, writer, actor, producer, director, bestselling author and former host of The Daily Show. He lives with his wife and children in New Jersey.