Two years ago, when Bryan Young explained the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to his 8-year-old daughter after his trip to Ford’s Theatre in Washington, he was surprised by how fascinated she was.
“That was the first time she realized that presidential assassination was a thing that could happen and that it was a thing that had happened in history,” Young said. “She wanted to know about who would do such a thing, and why would they do such a thing.”
Soon, Young can give his daughter, and other kids her age, the answers. In An Illustrated History of Presidential Assassinations, out early next year, Young writes about U.S. presidents who survived assassination attempts (and the ones who didn’t) in a style that’s equal parts history textbook and bedtime story.
The book begins with the first attempted assassination of a president in U.S. history. In 1835, Richard Lawrence, delirious from paint chemicals and convinced he was meant to be King Richard III of England, shot at Andrew Jackson after a congressman’s funeral on Capitol Hill.
Jackson was leaving the Capitol through the East Portico when Lawrence struck, firing his first pistol…
…but it misfired!
Pulling his second pistol, he fired again…
…but it misfired, too!
Not one to take such actions lightly, Jackson hit Lawrence with his cane, chasing him around and hitting him until the onlookers could restrain the would-be assassin. Fortunately for everyone, Congressman Davy Crocket, hero of the frontier, was there and was able to subdue Lawrence with the other onlookers.
The book documents the most famous assassination victims, like Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. It also chronicles attempts with (under the circumstances) happy endings, like the time Theodore Roosevelt gave a 90-minute speech while bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest. And the time Samuel Byck hijacked a plane to fly into Richard Nixon’s White House. And the time John Hinckley Jr. fired a bullet that missed Ronald Reagan’s heart by an inch.
Last month, Young began raising money for the book on Kickstarter, a fundraising website. He reached his goal of $3,000 within 10 days. With less than a week to go until the campaign closes, the people of the Internet have pledged $5,238. Young said he was surprised by the response, but thinks there are parents — and people in general — like him out there who like seeing history packaged in a quirky way. Especially political history, which he says carries a certain stigma.
“In today’s day and age with such a divisive political landscape, I think people forget that we have a shared history, and that it doesn’t have to be divisive or uncomfortable,” Young said. “It can be interesting or fun even though the topic is grim.”
What We're Following See More »
"Iranian hackers have laid the groundwork to carry out extensive cyberattacks on U.S. and European infrastructure and on private companies, and the U.S. is warning allies, hardening its defenses and weighing a counterattack, say multiple senior U.S. officials. Despite Iran having positioned cyber weapons to carry out attacks, there is no suggestion an offensive operation is imminent, according to the officials, who requested anonymity in order to speak."
"Negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives late Thursday agreed to abandon efforts to reinstate harsher sanctions" against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. "Draft language advanced in the House earlier this year focused on a procurement ban for ZTE products, whereas the Senate approved language that would reinstate the sales ban for U.S. companies to sell to ZTE." The change is a major win for President Trump, who has had exempted the company from earlier sanctions as part of broader trade negotiations with China.
"President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments" to former Playboy model Karen McDougal "who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump." The FBI seized the recording during an April raid of Cohens office. "The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election," which may violate federal campaign finance laws. Days before the election, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks denied any knowledge of the payment, and said that the allegations were "totally untrue."
Conservative Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a former CIA agent, says in a New York Times op-ed this morning that Russian intelligence is "manipulating" President Trump. "The leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad," he writes.