I've seen Sarah Vowell live twice - first here and then here. I have also listened to her many times on NPR's This American Life (TAL). I have always found her stories funny and her delivery spot-on. After seeing her at the live TAL taping I decided to try one of her books and purchased "Assassination Vacation. The book is about Sarah Vowell's investigations, during vacations, of the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. I expected her book would have the same deadpan style that I'd heard, and loved, before and I was not disappointed. After reading this book, I have come to realize that Sarah Vowell's idea of a vacation destination is very strange, almost as strange as our roadtrips.
I really enjoyed this book which, considering the subject, was a surprise. I think if anyone else wrote this book I would have been bored to tears and most like I would not have read it in the first place. Vowell fills the pages with humor and anecdotes that maintain the reader's interest. I even found myself learning something about American history. Some of the anecdotes do stray a little from the main theme but they were in most cases funny so the meandering was excusable. I find my reaction to the side stories odd since similar side stories just irritated me while I read Bill Bryson's "A Walk In The Woods".
The one thing missing from this book is Kennedy. Vowell stays away from our most recent, and controversial, presidential assassination. I would be interested in her point of view.
One thing to mention. There are parts in the book where Vowell lets her political views shine through. It turns out that I tend to agree with most of her views, especially her view of the current President, but I know some people who may be turned off by this. Even agreeing with her, I would have preferred that she had kept those political feeling to herself. This is only a minor criticism of a very engaging and fun read.
I enjoyed this book enough that I am planning to check out her other books sometime.
If you're interested in a second opinion on "Assassination Vacation", you can read the Godson's review at ManyHighways.