“As I now move, graciously I hope, toward the door marked Exit,” writes Gore Vidai, “it occurs to me that the only thing I ever really liked to do was go to the movies.” Now he looks back on a life spent at the movies, with a view to explaining the various ways in which they taught him—and us—the history of the Republic. Along the way he even makes a little screen history himself.
One hundred and twenty-seven years after he fired the shot that drove a ball half an inch wide into Lincoln’s brain, John Wilkes Booth retains nearly as firm a hold on the American imagination as does the man he murdered. When Gene Smith set about writing a book on the Booth family, he found that a regular little industry had grown up around tracing the assassin’s ghostly footsteps from the box at Ford’s Theatre to the Virginia tobacco barn where federal troopers gunned him down. Smith takes us along on that strangely compelling tour.
A panoramic view of the two-party system shows how we came to have an institution the Founders never wanted—and which has been in place ever since their day … Dvorak visits America and sees the wellsprings of its musical greatness more clearly than any American … Reagan’s personal physician speculates on whether he could have saved the four assassinated Presidents … and, because we hope to retain a hold on your attention despite all the distractions of Labor Day, more.