History meets a courtroom drama in Lincoln’s Last Trial, which chronicles the last murder trial that Lincoln defended before becoming the 16th president of the United States. Told through the eyes of a court stenographer with detailed descriptions of laws of the day, facts of the case, and witness testimony, Lincoln’s Last Trial is the perfect book for people who enjoy both true crime and courtroom drama and US history.
I’m not a huge reader of history books, but I prefer nonfiction audiobooks to fiction ones, so I dove into this. Also, I was counting it as my “book about Abe Lincoln” for the FFL reading challenge. And this book is ABOUT Lincoln, but it’s not solely about Lincoln. Yes, he’s the most interesting character and clearly the stenographer is fascinated by him, but there is much more to this book. There’s familial drama and references to obscure cases we’ve probably never heard of but that sound absolutely fascinating and even some history of Illinois thrown in.
The murder trial of Quinn Peachy Harrison is a question of self-defense. When the two Crafton brothers came into the store where Harrison was minding his own business and began to rough him a bit, did that give him the right to stab one of the brothers, Greek, and ultimately end his life? And what about that death bed confession he made to a local preacher who just happened to be…the murderer’s grandfather? Not only that, how could Lincoln defend Harrison when the victim had trained for the law in Lincoln’s own office? This entire book is a fascinating look at a very specific time in American history and while I don’t think it’s that eye-opening about what compelled Lincoln to the presidency, it’s a fascinating look at one specific trial and the major figures involved.
Actually, when I was googling the trial to make sure I spelled the names right, I found this History.com article about the trial you can read as a bit of a preview, however I kind of liked not knowing how the verdict would come down until the very end! The article IS written by the authors of this book though, so you can trust it.
If you like courtroom drama with a dash of history, add this book to your shelves!