December 2015 - REED Magazine, review by Sam Smith: "This account delivers in gripping detail the trail of bread crumbs linking Surratt to the assassination plot, tracking the fugitive as he eludes federal troops and bounty hunters across three continents, and finally through the bungled trial which ended in Surratt's release.
"A meticulously cited piece of archival sleuthing, and a potent indictment of a man overlooked, this work demonstrates that even if Surratt managed to outsmart the U.S. legal system, he will not so readily evade the scrutiny of the keen historian."
July 2015 - BELLINGHAM HERALD by Barbara McMichael: "I’m running behind: only now am I getting to a book about Lincoln’s assassination that was published this past April. But I’ve found this book to be so intriguing that I’d like to recommend it to you . . ..
"A great deal of Surratt’s work was intentionally obfuscatory – espionage was his trade. Yet Schein dives in with sharp-eyed zeal, combing through archives, presenting the research (letters, diary entries, newspaper accounts, courtroom transcripts) and parsing their legitimacy. Every chapter is followed by a long list of footnotes.
"Nonetheless, this is not a scholarly slog – the reading is immensely engaging. This is real-life drama involving idealism, narcissism, charismatic players, high stakes, treachery and tragedy.
"Not every question in this complicated narrative is answered, but how terrific that the questions have been raised once again! Schein breathes new life into a transformative episode that has been neglected for too long. “John Surratt” is a fascinating read."
Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/entertainment/article26590192.html#storylink=cpy
May 19, 2015 - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, the granddaddy of trade reviewers, lauds JOHN SURRATT: THE LINCOLN ASSASSIN WHO GOT AWAY:
"In this gripping true crime thriller, Schein (Just Deceits: A Historical Courtroom Mystery) makes a persuasive case that Confederate leadership was involved in the Lincoln assassination, though he concedes that "at this late date that is beyond definite proof." He notes that unlike in the murder of J.F.K., the unresolved question with respect to Lincoln's death is not whether there was a conspiracy, but who was involved. While he is cautious in his conclusions, Schein convincingly interprets documentary evidence as showing that "all three of the top Confederate leaders were providing active support" to the kidnapping plots led by John Surratt, an admitted Confederate spy, and John Wilkes Booth, which evolved into plans to murder Lincoln. Schein relies heavily on primary sources, including transcripts of Surratt's 1867 trial, which ended in a hung jury, but he does so with an attorney's eye, noting inconsistencies (including conflicting testimony about whether Surratt was in front of Ford's Theater on the fateful night) and witnesses' motives to lie. He also makes clear the embarrassing prosecutorial errors that enabled Surratt to escape justice. Open-minded readers will find Schein's research and arguments thought-provoking." http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-933909-96-7
May 10, 2015 - GREAT review from the influential Civil War blog "Cannonba!!": "Michael Schein’s new book is a very important addition to the historiography of the Lincoln assassination. The definitive biography of John H. Surratt, this work is deeply researched, well written, and highly informative. Schein gives us an excellent sense of Surratt the man, as well as examining the legend and myths surrounding his involvement in Booth’s plans." The reviewer concludes that this is an "interesting, entertaining, and fast-paced new book." ~ Scott Mingus, Cannonba!! Click here to read the full review.
This from Civil War historian Allen Mesch: "Michael Schein has created a page-turner, political thriller detailing the espionage activities of Confederate spy and courier, John Surratt." To read the full review: http://salient-points.blogspot.com/2015/04/john-surratt-lincoln-assassin-who-got.html
“John Surratt was indeed the Lincoln assassin who got away, but, fortunately, he will not escape history thanks to Michael Schein. In this well-researched, beautifully written account of John Surratt, Schein brings historical justice to a man that has been given a pass for too long. It is long overdue.”
~ Edward Steers, Jr., Author (among other works) of “Lincoln’s Assassination,” “The Lincoln Assassination Encyclopedia,” “Blood on the Moon,” “The Quotable Lincoln,” “His Name is Still Mudd,” and editor of “The Trial: the Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators.”
"Michael Schein has written a fast-moving, vivid account of one of the best and most bewildering stories to come out of the Civil War. A bonus is Schein's excellent analysis of Surratt's trial, one of the more interesting and bizarre legal affairs of the era. Bravo!"
~ S.C. Gwynne, author of Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson and Empire of the Summer Moon
Don’t let him get away again! This is a must read about the elusive John Surratt, Jr.’s involvement in Booth’s plot against Lincoln. Michael Schein’s fast-paced narrative propels us on a breathtaking journey as we follow Surratt from Elmira, New York to Alexandria, Egypt, to his capture, escape, arrest, trial and final freedom. Highly recommended!
~ Joan Chaconas, History Specialist, Surratt House Museum
"Michael Schein’s book takes the reader on the footsteps of John Surratt and the other protagonists of the plot against the American President Abraham Lincoln. The author explores every aspect of the young Confederate spy’s life and his incredible escape through three continents, he competently analyzes the documents related to the event and suggests sharable hypotheses when documents do not provide enough elements to understand the issues. Any intricacies in the story are told with a plain though engaging writing style, while the reader is always given the option to draw free conclusions. The final part of the work clearly shows Michael Schein’s deep knowledge of Surratt's trial papers and the close relationship with the previous trials of the conspirators.”
~ Giancarlo Onorati, author of L’Ultimo dei Conspiratori (Last of the Conspirators), Professor, “Pacifici and De Magistris,” Sezze, Italia
“Michael Schein’s novel, Bones Beneath Our Feet, does for the Pacific Northwest what Nathaniel Philbrick did for the East Coast in Mayflower. The history of First People and Boston tribes in the Puget Sound is meticulously researched and brought to life with sensitive depictions and dialog that reads itself from the page. . . .
"The author claims some poetic license in the ordering and telling of events, and uses it well, building a story on true facts and bringing those facts to life. Huge numbers of characters people the pages yet somehow are never confusing, all seeming like old friends when they reappear. Each voice is convincingly given its say with multiple points of view building up to a well-rounded depiction of trust betrayed, communication found wanting, and hope misplaced. But the deepest hopes are reserved for a land that is never truly owned. Their bones still lie beneath our feet, and forest and stream will never belong to us; they’re just on loan.” – Sheila Deeth, Gather.Com, August 13, 2011
“One of the best historical novels I've read yet. The characters engaged me from the beginning. I learned so much about this area of the country. You must read this book. I still see the boy trying to keep his disturbed mother from jumping out her bedroom window. Excellent book.” – Ann Hite, Goodreads, September 6, 2011
"[A] moving story of the unnecessary war between the Nisqually Indians led by their chief, Leschi, and the whites led by governor Isaac Stevens. . . . If you live in the Puget Sound area this is a must read. . . . The characters and scenery are so well written that I just wanted to go back to the forests, the rivers and see the hills as they were then and as Schein wrote them. Real people make up this story and we can easily relate to them.” – Cheryl’s Book Nook, September 6, 2011
"The events leading up to and following the war occur in epic proportions. Bones Beneath Our Feet is a complex, nuanced, revisionist epic with a massive cast of characters, pitched battles, reversals, small acts of human tenderness, and a climactic court scene. Characters seem both larger-than-life and humanely familiar. Schein excels at returning the Historical . . . to the human." – Karl Wolff, Driftless Area Review, October 19 2011
“Bones Beneath Our Feet is a powerful and deeply moving historical novel . . . [that] brings alive the struggles for justice by Chief Leschi and the Nisqually tribe who were being cheated out of their land by the infamous Governor Isaac Stevens. This story is a gripping one and beautifully written with vivid descriptions of the landscape that we all love. The characters, both historical and created, come alive as they fight and love throughout this big book. I especially loved his descriptions of the culture of the indigenous people, much of which may be lost today. . . . I highly recommend Bones Beneath Our Feet to all who love the land and its history as well as those who love a damn good story with fine writing. . . . Bones Beneath Our Feet has my highest recommendation!” – J. Glenn Evans, author of Broker Jim and Zeke’s Revenge, July 7, 2011
"I love your book. In fact - it was one of those 'I can't wait to keep reading but I don't want it to end' books. I felt I was right there in Virginia with all the assorted characters - I felt the sweat on the horse, smelled the fields, as villains and heroes . . . made their way one place to another, and I got scared and excited at all the right places. Bravo!" - A note received from a reader,
March 16, 2009.
“Michael Schein’s excellent debut novel, Just Deceits, is the perfect book for lovers of courtroom thrillers, historical fiction, mysteries, or anyone looking for an exciting page-turner that also stimulates the mind. Schein’s writing is crisp, the characters are vivid and engaging, and there are many unexpected twists on the way to a stunning ending. I couldn’t put it down!” – Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author of The Jury Master, Damage Control and The Cyanide Canary
"This book is incredible. It is chock full of fully developed historical characters, and the plot, based on fact, is rivetting. I could not put this book down. I was in constant suspense, richocheting back and forth in my conviction of whether the accused were guilty or not. The courtroom scenes were fascinating, the masterful arguments of Patrick Henry and John Marshall totally engrossing, and the surprise ending completely unexpected. This was so well written, and so fascinating a look at a small part of our history and some of the great men that populated the age of the birth of our nation." – Vicky Kaseorg, Amazon Verified Purchaser
"In 2007, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. commented that Americans are “the most entertained and least informed people on the planet.” The best part about Michael Schein’s remarkable work of historical fiction, “Just Deceits – A Historical Courtroom Mystery,” is that it accurately informs and compellingly illuminates in an entirely entertaining fashion. As we all know from everyday life, a good story only goes so far: the telling of the story will determine whether we listen attentively or pretend to get an important phone call and walk away. Schein is a superb storyteller: he reveals key elements judiciously, includes the right amount of detail, explains when necessary and lingers when you need a little more time. His writing is equally impressive. His prose is crisp and clear, dialects are gracefully represented and descriptions are clever, understated and steeped in the period. Readers are simultaneously happy for his guidance and glad that he remains just offstage in the shadows, focusing our attention on the characters and story. This is more than a story, however, it’s our heritage; and Schein brings to late 18th-century America what Upton Sinclair brought to early 20th-century America, an open mind and a journalist’s willingness to follow darkened forest trails, stray into the slaves’ quarters and disappear into the muddy, vulgar chaos of the green. He reveals what he finds there, whether ugly or inspiring. It is this focus on truth that reveals the true heroes both in real life and in stories like Just Deceits. It is a gritty, unflinching and moving story of Americans in a very young country dealing with challenges as old as humanity itself." - Robert Mitchell, Goodreads reviewer.