Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Manhunt

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The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

by James L. Swanson

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  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 448 pages
    Feb 2007, 496 pages

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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 join the Confederate army). However, according to some reports he was actively engaged in smuggling medical supplies to Confederate forces.

He left the stage in 1864 to concentrate on his oil investments (bought from his earnings as an ...

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