Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history.
From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, 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. James L. Swanson's Manhunt
is 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
Questions for Discussion
- What if John Wilkes Booth had missed?
- What if not only Booth, but also Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt, had
accomplished their missions? Would the murders of the president, vice
president, and secretary of state have plunged the Union into chaos and
prolonged the Civil War?
- How did the Lincoln assassination change American history?
- What was Mary Surratt's level of culpability in the assassination? Was
her execution an injustice?
- What of Dr. Samuel Mudd? Was he guilty, and of what?
- Who is the more admirable character, the actress Laura Keene or the
assassin's sister, Asia Booth Clarke?
- Is Thomas Jones, the rebel river ghost, to be admired for his code of
honor or condemned for his aid to the assassin?
- Is Ford's Theatre a monument to Abraham Lincoln, or his killer?
- In what ways, if any, is John Wilkes Booth a sympathetic character?
- Have we, nearly 150 years after the great crime, forgiven John Wilkes
- Who is the hero of Manhunt? Is there more than one?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.