American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family-Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth - Gene Smith

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley, courtesy of Open Road Media.


                Gene Smith’s American Gothic is supposedly a biography of the Booth family.  In some ways, it is this.  Chronicling the founding of the family and the demise of its last major member.  Most of the book, however, is taken up with the infamous John Wilkes Booth and the events surrounding the assassination of Lincoln. 


                Additionally, most of the book focuses on the men of the family, understandably so considering that the women marry into and out of the family.  Yet, I found myself wishing to know about Asia in addition to the fact that her marriage was bad and that she was close John Wilkes Booth.  He also repeats the same stories about the marriage of the Lincolns without really adding or examining anything.  In fact, all women in the history get little attention, not surprising considering the event and the era, but some more about the women would have made the book stand out a bit more.


                Those criticisms aside, the book is written and sourced well.  Smith does offer quite a bit about the other Booth men, and the most touching part of the book has to do with the effect on the acting prospects of the rest of the family.  The is a beautiful passage about the burning John Wilkes Booth’s costumes by Edwin.