On the last, cold Sunday of February 1859, Daniel Sickles shot his wife's lover in Washington's Lafayette Square, just across from the White House. This is the story of that killing and its repercussions.
Thomas Keneally brilliantly recreates an extraordinary period, when women were punished for violating codes of society that did not bind men. And the caddish, good-looking Dan Sickles personifies the extremes of the era: as a womaniser, he introduced his favourite madam to Queen Victoria while his wife stayed at home; as minister to Spain, he began an affair with the Queen while courting one of her ladies in waiting; and in his later years, he installed his housekeeper as his mistress while his second wife took up residence nearby.
The brio with which Thomas Keneally tells the tale is equal to the pace and bravado of Sickles' life. But, more than this, American Scoundrel is the lens through which the reader can view history at a time when America was being torn apart.