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.
- Vowell has a unique voice. In Assassination Vacation she recounts the history behind three
Presidents’ assassinations as she experiences them through touring places that featured significant in their lives and deaths. However, this is not a straight, chronological history.? Did you like the author’s writing style and organization? Why or Why not? US
- Assassination Vacation is only a partial history of the events surrounding the deaths of Presidents Lincoln, McKinley, and Garfield. In fact, it is part history and part travelogue into the industry created by their deaths. In this book, what do you think Vowell is trying to say about American popular culture both in the past and the present? What does she think about our obsession with both the victims and the murderers?
- What were you favorite places Vowell visited in her travels? Who were your favorite people she met along the way?
- We are taught quite a bit about
and his death in school, but McKinley and Garfield are rarely mentioned. What new things did you learn about Presidents McKinley and Garfield? Has your opinion of them changed? Lincoln
- This is a book about very public deaths, although Vowell goes to great lengths to add humor to the book. Did you find the book humorous? Did you find it ultimately uplifting or depressing?
- Did you think Assassination Vacation had enough details? What more would you like to find out about the “characters” and places in this book? Are you interested in personally visiting any of the places Vowell described?
- What are the strengths of this book? Where are its weaknesses? Would you suggest this book to a friend or another book group? Do you think this book would be a good addition to the reading list of a high school American History class? Why or why not?
- In what ways do you think this book might be controversial? Did anything about Vowell’s travelogue bother you?
- Vowell was inspired to go on her “assassination vacation,” after seeing the musical, “The Assassins.” Is there a uniquely themed vacation or tour which would interest you?