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Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (P.S.) Paperback – February 6, 2007
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
shot with a derringer by John Wilkes Booth (1838-April 26, 1865) in a murder most foul!Booth came from the most renowned acting family America. He was a superb actor, rake and handsome man who favored Southern Independence, hated the blacks and viewed Lincoln as a tyrant. Booth killed Lincoln after several earlier kidnap schemes went awry.
As an avid Civil War buff and student of the Lincoln assassination this is one of the two best books on the murder of the railspliter. The other great book on this topic is Edward Steers.Jr's classic "Blood On the Moon."
This book is not as dry as Steers book and could serve as the basis of a motion picture or better yet mini-series on the horrific event.
In great detail Swann tells us what really happened on the 12 day flight by Booth and his fellow conspirator David Herold on their flight to the Garrett family barn near Port Royal, Va. where Booth was shot to death by Sergeant Boston Corbett and
Herold was captured. (Herold along with George Atzerdot; Mary
Surratt and Lewis Powell would die on the scaffold on July 7, 1865.
Powell had sought to kill Secretary of State Seward in his bed where he was recovering from a painful carriage accident. He failed. George Atzerodt failed to even try to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson living in the Kirkwood Hotel.
If you want to excite a young person in American history this is a wonderful place to begin. Swann can write well and simply about complex events regarding the assassination. Finishing this book I have a new respect for Secretary of War Edwin Stanton who led the manhunt for the killers.Read more ›
First, in a sense, "Manhunt" might not be the best title, because while it does chronicle the 12-days that Booth was on the run, it is largely told through his eyes, not those of his pursuers. So maybe "Flight" or "On The Run" might give anyone who hasn't read it a more accurate idea of the narrative.
Second, the author clearly takes generous liberties in filling in the thoughts and motives of everyone involved, especially Booth, to the point where the reader has to wonder whether the narration has crossed the line from non-fiction to fictional novelization.
Put the two together, and you have the bigger issue -- a jarringly sympathetic portrait of Booth. Which is not to say that Booth didn't have sympathetic qualities or even believe in actions were justified. He surely must have. But I found too often, especially as the book wears on and the narrative becomes even more focused on Booth, that the author brushes aside his obvious flaws - among them his extreme bigotry, violent streak, hot temper and consistent deception of friend and foe alike - to paint him as something of a martyr. As the book nears its close, the author really seems to go all in, depicting Booth's pursuers as incompetent glory seekers and Booth... well, I'm telling the truth here, there's actually one passage in which a character who helps authorities is compared to Judas and another passage with a direct comparison of Booth to Jesus as he lay dying and tended to.
Again, there's much to like about this book and I recommend reading it. But since so many people have given it such sterling (5 star) reviews, I thought I would try to communicate a bit about what bothered me about the narrative. It's very good, but can't see it as 5 stars.
When I received Manhunt as a gift I inwardly signed and wondered if it was a book I would actually read, let alone enjoy. However, I was hooked quickly. The first page describes John Wilkes waking up on April 14, 1865 and reflecting on what a bad month it had been so far (fall of Richmond and Lee's surrender at Appomattox). From that point, assassination day is described from the perspective of both Booth and Lincoln. The reader learns that Booth headed a real-life conspiracy, not something that arose from conjecture, a convoluted hypothesis, and thin evidence after the fact. This conspiracy first aimed to kidnap Lincoln and take him to Richmond. Assassination became Booth's aim after the kidnapping plot broke down and he became frustrated and vengeful as the Civil War closed. The final conspiracy did not stop with Lincoln as Secretary of State Charles Seward and Vice-President Andrew Johnson were also targets.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I learned so many facts that I did not know about the search for JWB. The author made you feel that you were right there as the story unfolded.Published 9 hours ago by Barbara J. Allen
I took this book along with me to read while I visited the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL last week and it really helped to capture the drama of what I experienced. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Sam
Outstanding history written in the most detailed and interesting way. Writer puts you back in the time of the book. Just outstanding.Published 8 days ago by Jacko Penhale
I have read a lot on the. Lincoln assassination and this is one of the best accounts I've read on the conspirators, especially Booth.Published 10 days ago by meg
Well researched book with very interesting details in both the planning and ultimate execution of the beloved President Lincoln. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent account of a very extensive plot to bring down the US government near the end of the Civil War. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Nancy S. Usher