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Manhunt : The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer
by James L. Swanson


Overview - What We're Reading Now
"This is a wonderfully vivid account of the nationwide hunt for John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices in the days following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Definitely a must-read for fans of American History."
Brian Franklin - Books-A-Million, Palm Harbor, FL
Editor's choice:
"If Truman Capote had lived a century earlier, this book may have been called In Cold Blood.
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More About Manhunt by James L. Swanson
 
 
 
Overview
What We're Reading Now
"This is a wonderfully vivid account of the nationwide hunt for John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices in the days following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Definitely a must-read for fans of American History."
Brian Franklin - Books-A-Million, Palm Harbor, FL
Editor's choice:
"If Truman Capote had lived a century earlier, this book may have been called In Cold Blood. As such, James Swanson emulates that brilliant work in Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. It’s a remarkable history book that reads like a thrilling true-crime novel."
The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history -- the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

At the very center of this story is John Wilkes Booth, America's notorious villain. A Confederate sympathizer and a member of a celebrated acting family, Booth threw away his fame and wealth for a chance to avenge the South's defeat. For almost two weeks, he confounded the manhunters, slipping away from their every move and denying them the justice they sought.

Based on rare archival materials, obscure trial transcripts, and Lincoln's own blood relics, Manhunt is a fully documented work, but it is also a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you've never read it before.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780060518493
  • ISBN-10: 0060518499
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: February 2006
  • Page Count: 464
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.41 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - Civil War

 
BookPage Reviews

The aftermath of a capital crime

Lawyer/historian James L. Swanson is the coauthor of Lincoln's Assassins (2001), an enthusiastically received volume that primarily provided a visual record of the persons, places and events surrounding the April 1865 murder of the president and its aftermath. With Manhunt: The Twelve-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, Swanson explores in dramatic detail John Wilkes Booth's escape from Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., along with his subsequent flight through Maryland and Virginia, which culminated in his death at the hands of federal cavalry troops.

Rather than merely present a recounting of facts already fairly well known, Swanson draws on the official record and other published testimony and then infuses his text with a fictional sensibility that attempts to get inside the minds and hearts of the principals. Booth, a noted actor in his time and a member of a famous theatrical family, takes center stage, with Swanson offering a nearly heartfelt portrait of the man's personal charisma and the fanatical devotion to the Southern cause that drove him to his deadly deed.

Swanson also comprehensively covers the backstory leading up to Booth's history-changing act—including his abortive scheme to kidnap Lincoln, which morphed by happenstance into a hastily arranged but effective assassination plan. Swanson's depiction of the nation's capital in the days following Lee's surrender to Grant is vividly wrought, as are his profiles of the public officials determined to bring Booth to justice. In particular, we're introduced to a heroic secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, who essentially took control of the government in the critical days following Lincoln's slaying.

With its colorful historical backdrop and tragic underpinnings, the book gathers steam as it goes, with Booth, hobbled by a broken leg, haltingly making his way through the countryside and later across the Potomac River, eventually betrayed by Confederate sympathizers. This is a true-adventure tale of the first rank, and, not surprisingly, the book's already been snapped up by Hollywood, with Harrison Ford tapped for the lead role as of one of the agents heading up the Booth manhunt.

Martin Brady is a writer in Nashville.

 
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