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Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 7, 2006
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The Greatest Manhunt in American History
For 12 days after his brazen assassination of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth was at large, and in Manhunt, historian James L. Swanson tells the vivid, fully documented tale of his escape and the wild, massive pursuit. Get a taste of the daily drama from this timeline of the desperate search.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- ASIN : 0060518499
- Publisher : William Morrow; 1st edition (February 7, 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780060518493
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060518493
- Lexile measure : 1060L
- Item Weight : 1.41 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.41 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #554,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I loved the details -- some macabre, others humorous -- that Swanson uses to provide a complete and arresting picture of the events of late April 1865. Such as Laura Keene, leading-lady in the production of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater on the night of the assassination, who gently craddled Lincoln's head in her lap in the moments before the stricken president was moved across the street the Petersen House. The narcissistic thespian and trigger-man, John Wilkes Booth, hungrily pouring over the news of the assassination in newspapers as though he were reading reviews of his latest stage performance. The pious, dim-witted, and self-castrated Union cavalry soldier, Boston Corbett, who shot the cornered Booth through the neck, rendering the assassin a quadriplegic for the final few hours of his life. Major Henry Rathbone and his fiance, Clara Harris, who accompanied the president and Mrs. Lincoln to the theater that night after General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant (and several others) had to turn down the request, only to provide minimal assistance during and after the attack (18-years later Rathbone would murder his wife in Germany). The authoritarian curmudgeon, Edwin Stanton, who created a virtual command center in the room next to Lincoln's deathbed at the Petersen House to track down and capture the assassins, which were, he was convinced, part of a wicked conspiracy orchestrated by the Confederate high command. The diminutive, but courageous Fanny Seward, who valiantly fought to save her father, secretary of state Willam Seward, from the vicious bowie knife blows of Lewis Powell.
It is important to note that Swanson's narrative never touches on the controversial questions of the military tribunal that sent four men and one woman to the gallows in July 1865. The sole focus is the day of the assassination and the days that followed. You can almost hear the hiss of the gaslights and smell the acrid tobacco smoke in the air as Swanson recreates scene after scene. "Manhunt" is popular history at its absolute finest.
The prose made the book felt like a NYT bestselling crime thriller. Swanson fully captures the readers attention immediately and never let's it loose from his grasp. Swanson does not write a mini biography on Lincoln or Booth, but instead focuses almost entirely on the manhunt, which is what separates this book from others. Its narrow and complete focus makes capitivating details easy to remeber, and unleashes an insatiable desire for more information.
One thing that I wished there was more of would be accounts of the failed raids and deaths of those involved in searching for Lincoln. Dozens of volunteers and soldiers met their demise while searching for the killers through swamps and in other inhospitable terrain. Also, the death of Lafayette C Baker is unfortunately inadequately covered. I'm not a fan of the conspiracy theory involving Baker and Stanton and consider it hogwash but it would have been a felicitous excerpt.
Top reviews from other countries
Through various sources we discover what made Booth want to kill the President, the people he brought into his plan, the excellent escape plan he had and the pretty stupid mistakes he made during it. We learn about his 12 days on the run and the people who both helped and betrayed him. We learn about the steps the Government took to try and capture this man, growing more desperate by the day!
This book is so well written you actually feel like you're there in the time, witnessing it all first hand. There is hardly a boring paragraph in the book and of you have a completely free day or two it will be easy to finish the book in that time, not because it's simply written but because you won't want to put it down.
The author himself I have seen on several documentaries on Lincoln and Booth and he, while I forget the details about what he does exactly, does, at least seem to, know what he is talking about. The man has done his research and presents it here as a thrilling read.
There is nothing more interesting than reading about characters like booth who we all are fascinated by. People love heroes but the villain most of the time have something about them that's more interesting to read. Booth was a young actor who had it all at the palm of his hands but gave everything up for what he truely believed in.