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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

The Ladykiller who Killed Lincoln: The Scandalous Love Life of John Wilkes Booth

00:00 51:30
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What if People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” assassinated a U.S. President? John Wilkes Booth has been despised as a traitor, hailed as a martyr, and dismissed as a lunatic. But in the 1860s he was considered the “handsomest man in America”? Before cementing his name in history by assassinating President Lincoln, this actor extraordinaire was the Leonardo DiCaprio of the 1860s. Women packed the audiences wherever Booth played, pawed him for autographs, and tore at his clothes for souvenirs.

Women could not resist him—nor could he resist them.

Today on the show I am joined by E. Lawrence Abel, author of the new book John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him. He discusses stories of stories of infatuation, flings, and heartbreak that Booth interwove throughout his theatrical career and assassination plot. We specifically discussHow Actress Henrietta Irving attempted to kill him in a jealous rageThe “Star Sisters” broke up their act after a jealous falling-out over himPhotos of five women were found on Booth’s body, and only one was of his fiancée


Booth’s life was as dramatic as any play. Actor, lover, and assassin, Booth was a complex man whose shocking crime changed the course of American history and cast him forever in the role of an American villain.
April 17, 2018
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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