While the National Park Service does not carry “Killing Lincoln” in the theater’s basement museum bookstore, Ford’s Theatre Society, which operates Ford’s Theatre in partnership with the park service, sells the book in its gift shop located in the ground-floor lobby of the theater. “We decided several weeks ago to carry Bill O’Reilly’s book ‘Killing Lincoln’ in the Ford’s Theatre Society gift shop,” said Paul R. Tetreault, director of Ford’s Theatre Society. “While we understand the National Park Service’s concerns about the book, we decided to let our visitors judge the book themselves.”
Henry Holt, the publisher of “Killing Lincoln,” said it was not able to provide comment. O’Reilly did not respond to a request for comment.
Other Lincoln experts also say they have found inaccuracies in the book. In a review published in the November issue of “North & South — The Official Magazine of the Civil War Society,” historian Edward Steers Jr. cites several instances where the book strays from documented history. He then asks: “If the authors made mistakes in names, places, and events, what else did they get wrong? How can the reader rely on anything that appears in ‘Killing Lincoln’?”
By taking on Lincoln, O’Reilly and Dugard have set themselves up for avid scrutiny. Few presidents, indeed few subjects, are as voluminously researched and fought over as Lincoln. Steers notes that more than 16,000 books and articles have been written about Lincoln, with more than 125 volumes on the assassination. He adds that only eight of the assassination books were written by professional historians.
Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia University who has written about the Civil War, Lincoln and the South for 40 years, said that he had not read “Killing Lincoln,” but added in an e-mail, “Many people outside the academy have written about Lincoln and the assassination, but all sorts of unproven theories about it abound and one would hope that any writer would make use of all the relevant sources (and avoid historical errors).”
“Killing Lincoln” has no footnotes. An afterword on sources lists “books, websites, and other archived information.” But to Steers, the list leaves out important primary documents.