BookBrowse Reviews Manhunt by James L. Swanson

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Manhunt

The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

by James L. Swanson

Manhunt by James L. Swanson X
Manhunt by James L. Swanson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 448 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2007, 496 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Pure narrative pleasure, sure to satisfy the casual reader and Civil War aficionado alike. History

From the book jacket: 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.

Comment: There are some topics that have been written about so much that when another book comes out on the same subject it's quite difficult to do anything but yawn, so it was particularly extraordinary to see the pre-publication excitement over Manhunt when it published last year in hardcover, and not just from book critics, movie rights were snapped up before publication as well (see sidebar).

The reason for the excitement is that 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! Swanson 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).

The scene opens on an exhausted but joyous nation, the Civil War is finally over and a new era has begun; this jubilance is brought to a swift end with the assassination of Lincoln which throws the country into turmoil - would this cause the fighting to renew, indeed, was Washington under attack from Confederate forces? For 12-days the country waited breathlessly as the story unfolded through the telegraph wires, as the flamboyant Booth evaded the best the federal government could send against him, until, trapped on a farm in Virginia he gave "his final and greatest performance, not just for the small audience of soldiers at the improvised theater of Garrett's farm, but also for history."

Interesting Link: A collection of archival materials including newspaper clippings, photos and illustrations at the author's website, including a photograph of Booth with "the most beautiful eyes in the world" at the height of his fame.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2006, and has been updated for the February 2007 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  John Wilkes Booth

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Moth
    Moth
    by Melody Razak
    On August 15, 1947, India gained independence from the United Kingdom, and on that same day the ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Lonely People
    All the Lonely People
    by Mike Gayle
    Mike Gayle's charming novel All the Lonely People introduces us to Hubert Bird, an 82-year-old ...
  • Book Jacket: Perish
    Perish
    by LaToya Watkins
    It's a commonly cited fact that many perpetrators of sexual abuse, particularly men, are victims of ...
  • Book Jacket: Afterlives
    Afterlives
    by Abdulrazak Gurnah
    Afterlives, from Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, begins in late 19th century East Africa in ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Izquierdo
    by Rubén Degollado

    A masterful debut that weaves together the lives of three generations of a Mexican American family bound by love, and a curse.

Who Said...

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.