New York Times bestselling author of The Word Shipmates and contributor to NPR’s “This American Life” Sarah Vowell embarks on a road trip to sites of political violence, from Washington DC to Alaska, to better understand our nation’s ever-evolving political system and history.
Offbeat and entertaining, this audio tour of the memorials, monuments and relics linked to the first three U.S. presidential assassinations features an impressive lineup of readers, including Conan O'Brien, Dave Eggers, Stephen King, Jon Stewart and, of course, Vowell herself, whose distinct voice and deadpan delivery will be familiar to fans of NPR's This American Life . Elements of that show are evident here, particularly in the way the music that accompanies the readings (scored by Michael Giacchino of The Incredibles ) helps establish mood and heighten effect. Vowell handles most of the narration herself, with the guest narrators taking on specific roles. King, for example, voices the part of Abraham Lincoln. This approach works well most of the time, though it does make for some awkward shifts in tempo and voice. While Vowell's interplay with Eggers in the role of a tour guide sounds natural, her reenacted conversation with Catherine Keener as a museum curator seems stilted. Minor imperfections aside, however, this is a funny and expertly produced audiobook from a sharp social critic who wears her liberal heart on her sleeve. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (reviewed online at