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.
Chapter Two: "I Have Done It"
Legend has it that John Wilkes Booth was hiding outside in the
shadows near the front door of Ford's as the presidential carriage rocked down
the uneven dirt street and slowed to a stop, but no one really knows where he
was at that precise moment. On April 29, 1865, Clara Harris wrote in a letter,
"They say we were watched by the assassins; ay, as we alighted from the carriage
. . . and when I think of that fiend barring himself in with us, my blood runs
cold." Wherever Booth was it is almost certain that somehow he verified with his
own eyes that the Lincolns were actually inside the theatre. And he probably
wondered at the identity of Lincoln's guests and gauged whether Major Rathbone
looked like the type who could pose a threat to his plans. It didn't matter,
really; no one was going to stop him from going through with it.
Next door at Peter Taltavul's bar, the Star Saloon, it was a night like any ...
Swanson has taken a piece of history and presented it as an action-adventure story seen through the eyes of the hunters and the hunted - and quite a story it is too! He cuts through the overwhelming weight of history to focus solely on the hour-by-hour events immediately before Lincoln's assassination, and the 12-day chase following it (with a short discussion at the end covering the trials of the four co-conspirators and the post-assassination lives of those caught up in the chase).
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (719 words).
Booth's father, Junius Brutus Booth, emigrated from England in 1821 and
quickly established himself as one of the great actors of the day. Most of
his children were born out of wedlock, and most followed him onto the stage.
John Wilkes Booth started his career in 1855 in Baltimore, and then in
Philadelphia. Initially, he didn't show promise but in 1858 he moved to
Richmond, Virginia where he became more confident as an actor and grew popular with audiences.
He temporarily enlisted in the Confederate army in 1959 in order to witness the hanging of abolitionist John Brown - afterwards he returned to Richmond and was discharged. He did not fight in the Civil War (apparently having promised his mother that he would not ...
If you liked Manhunt, try these:
Jon Meacham in American Lion has delivered the definitive human portrait of a pivotal president who forever changed the American presidencyand America itself.
Informs our understanding of American politics--then and now--and gives us a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.
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