I expected Seth Grahame-Smith’s latest book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, to be a tongue-in-cheek look at the life of Abraham Lincoln. I assumed it would be a parody of sorts attempting to use the timeline of Lincoln’s life as map and having a little fun with US history. I expected vampirism to be an analog to slavery. That was simply not the case. Seth Grahame-Smith went well beyond all of that. He took the biographical history of Lincoln, and the historically pertinent parts of US history from Lincoln’s time and wrote a compelling alternative look at one of the greatest presidents in our nations history.
Conspiracy theorists are forever trying to reinterprets facts in an effort to constitute a hidden truth. Provide enough evidence, enough quantifiable facts, and the conspiracy theory gains momentum. Essentially this book posits that vampirism was the source of many of the seemingly natural and unnatural deaths of the time period. It goes a step further and makes a convincing argument that vampires were the driving force behind slavery in early United States history.
Of course all of this is done in good fun. Anyone taking the story seriously needs to make an immediate appointment with their nearest head-shrinker. But the story is based on historical facts intermixed with some extremely creative fiction. My initial expectation for the book to be a lampoon was far from the mark. The book takes itself very seriously while still making for a fun read. In essence, Grahame-Smith asks an interesting question. What if early American history was forged by a hidden battle between good and evil? What if a supernatural secret was the formative force behind some of the United States darkest days?
The book is well worth the time to read. It is a unique and interesting alternative look at American history. Based on enough historical fact to make even the most disbelieving wonder, what if…
UPDATE: 4/26/10 9:35am
The book is currently listed at #15 on the New York Times Best Seller list. This is the 13th consecutive week making the list (listed at #7 last week).