Friday, August 5, 2011

Assassination Vacation

Published by Simon and Schuster

In the middle ages, faithful Christians would take pilgrimages around the world to see places of martyrdom, alleged artifacts and body parts of various holy persons including Jesus and canonized saints. Vowell tells the reader at the beginning of her book that she lost her faith in God years ago. Her faith now is Democracy in America. Her pilgrimages? Places where presidents of the late nineteenth and very early twentieth century were killed, their assassins plotted and/or were captured and various body parts/clothing and other memorabilia from any of the above. And these trips were her vacations.

Think that is weird? Not as weird as the fact that this woman can take any point of view or subject and relate it to either an assassinated president or his killer in twenty words or less. Think of this as the Kevin Bacon of the political tragedy world.

Thank goodness Vowell is as funny as she is savagely against Republicans (George W in particular). Her unusual point of view and her quirky habits (she is afraid of driving so friends and relatives are roped into taking her to some of the more out of the way spots) don't exactly make her endearing but they do make Assassination Vacation to be an interesting and instructive read. I would love to see this as an optional reading in some American history class!

What did this book have to do with my faith? This book made me think about what pilgrimages I have made and those disturbing things I tend to venerate. Why do we want to visit the possible sights of where Jesus was executed. After all, the angels told the disciples to quit looking up into heaven after Jesus and get down to the business that he instructed them to be doing. If we do visit the Holy Lands, do we really need to see all these sights? Or should we simply travel in order to understand the distances and general landscape/people in which Jesus and others in scriptures lived?

In addition, Vowell herself admits that there is a fine line between her own virulent diatribe against those presidents and politicians that lean to the right and what the assassins believed and acted upon. Where is the line between doing violence in order to improve the country and talking about the same? What would really get someone to carry out an assassination attempt? I wonder sometimes about the fine line that (hopefully) keeps me from becoming either a Pharisee or a Roman soldier.

I recommend Assassination Vacation but if you are a staunch Republican, you will find her to be rude. Made me wonder what her editor cut out of the book!

Happy reading – and vacationing!


Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

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