26 MAY 1939, Page 38


The murder of Lincoln has always attracted attention both by its historical importance and by its dramatic character. The cry of the assassin, "sic semper tyrannis," won the approval of such a superior person as Matthew Arnold, not that he approved of the murder, but that a great political crime made American history almost respectable. The death of Lincoln, too, had social and political consequences of the first rank. It is on the dramatic side of the plot, the murder and the pursuit that Mr. Stern concentrates. This book (Cape, los. 6d.) is no ingenious piece of historical detective-work like Mr. Eisenschirnl's Why Was Lincoln Murdered ? but a brisk narrative written like a historical novel, full of picturesque detail and of conversations and thoughts whose authenticity must needs be spiritual. Whether history gains, even in vivid- ness, by this method may be doubted, but this is a brisk, dramatic telling of a naturally exciting story.