Cover image for In the line of fire : presidents' lives at stake
In the line of fire : presidents' lives at stake
St. George, Judith, 1931-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, [1999]

Physical Description:
144 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.3 3.0 36665.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.8 7 Quiz: 24287 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E176.1 .S698 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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Author Notes

Judith St. George (born 1931) was an American author, most famous for writing So You Want to Be President? Author and illustrator David Small was awarded the 2001 Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in the book. St. George wrote more than 40 books, most were historical fiction. She was born in Westfield, NJ and graduated from Smith College.

Saint George died on June 10, 2015; she was 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. Borrowing her title from the Clint Eastwood movie about a grizzled Secret Service agent, St. George provides a thorough account of our history of presidential assassinations. Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy each get a full chapter that looks beyond the fateful acts to touch on the politics and policies of the day, the transfer of power, and the motivation of the attackers. The reader comes away with a knowledge of each leader's accomplishments as well as details about medical practices and the increasing difficulty of safeguarding the president. The book's final section, "The Survivors," describes unsuccessful assassination attempts on presidents from Jackson to Reagan. St. George's attention to detail makes each account vivid and immediate, although one wishes that her quotations were footnoted to avoid seeming fictionalized. But because St. George pushes beyond the common factor of assassination, readers are treated to a concise, engaging chronicle of the legacy of four American presidents. Bibliography. --Randy Meyer

Publisher's Weekly Review

The grim but compelling details surrounding the four successful and seven unsuccessful assassination attempts on the lives of American presidents are the focus of St. George's (Sacagawea) latest offering. Four chapters focus on the deaths of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy, with the most attention paid to suspenseful reenactments of their assassinations and death scenes, including information on the assassins, the vice-presidents who were thrust into the country's highest office and an analysis of the effects of each president's death on the country. Historical engravings illustrate the fatal encounters of the first three presidents, with photographs and illustrations of funeral scenes providing the somber note in McKinley's and Kennedy's chapters. While St. George never sensationalizes the deaths, the dramatic way in which she relates the events at times undercuts the gravity of the fact that actual human lives were lost (Kennedy's chapter retains the greatest immediacy). Perhaps most interesting of all is the fifth and final chapter, which includes brief sketches of botched or foiled assassination attempts against Andrew Jackson (whose assassin believed himself to be King Richard III of England), Theodore Roosevelt (who, rather than going to the hospital after being shot, gave a stump speech) and five other presidents. Since readers may be less familiar with these accounts, this last chapter will likely prove to be the most involving and revealing. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-An informative and readable account. The first of the two main sections concerns the four slain U.S. presidents as well as their respective assassins, and also discusses the effects of these fatal events on the country. Each chapter preface relays the day's events preceding the murder in a dramatic fashion. The second half concerns the assassination attempts on six presidents and their would-be assassins. St. George includes intriguing anecdotes such as the fact that Theodore Roosevelt's 50-page speech, folded into quarters and placed in his front pocket, lessened the bullet's impact and, consequently, saved his life. At times, the book reads like a People magazine article and sometimes lacks objectivity. For example, the author attributes the country's recovery after Kennedy's death solely to Mrs. Kennedy's "courage and grace." Furthermore, St. George gives credence to superstition by noting that Reagan is the first president elected in a year ending in zero to survive his term in office. Still, the facts presented are indisputable, and the author does not shy away from controversy as she includes the findings of the 1977 House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, which stated that Kennedy "was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy." Nicely placed illustrations and photos add power to the text.-Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Abraham LincolnJames Abram GarfieldWilliam McKinleyJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy
Introductionp. 9
1. "Who Is Dead in the White House?"p. 15
2. The Summer of the Presidentp. 37
3. "Nearer My God to Thee"p. 59
4. The Eternal Flamep. 81
5. The Survivorsp. 101
Author's Notep. 129
Principal Bibliographyp. 133
Illustration Creditsp. 136
Indexp. 137