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Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's…

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (P.S.) (original 2006; edition 2007)

by James L. Swanson

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Title:Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (P.S.)
Authors:James L. Swanson
Info:Harper Perennial (2007), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:American History, Lincoln

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Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson (2006)

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A full and fascinating look at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the hunt for John Wilkes Booth. There is so much about this event that is either left out or ignored in most history classes that cover it. Things like the brutal attempt on Seward's life by Powell, Mudd's much larger part in the whole conspiracy, the multiple mistakes and misdirections that Booth and Herold took, and the fact that the whole plan for assassination came together in just one day.

Swanson has made the study of the Lincoln assassination his life's work, and it shows in the writing of this book. He covers every aspect of interest in the case, even hunting down the testimonies of people involved who kept their secrets for years, some that were not revealed until well after their deaths.

Definitely worth reading if you are interested in popular moments in American history. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Mar 18, 2014 |
As promised in the reviews I'd seen, this was a fun, addictive read. If you enjoy popular-level history, it's worth it. ( )
  LudieGrace | Dec 4, 2013 |
This book is definitely worth a read. The background to the assassination is fascinating, and I never before knew and will never now forget that it was essentially planned in one day. My god! The telling of the manhunt is very thorough although in some places a tiny bit disorganized; I could usually tell what day it was when Booth and Herold themselves were the subjects but things were a little murkier when discussing the hunters. I also would have loved to know more about the military tribunals; for instance, why in the world was the person who (as far as I can tell, completely unwittingly?) held Booth's horse sentenced to 6 years but the person who helped him escape across the Potomac set free? I know the heat of the time explains why someone who is in retrospect probably innocent can be convicted, by why was Jones set free? I'd love more details on those proceedings.

The number of people involved in the story is large, and reading this over a couple weeks meant that by the time I got to the military tribunals at the end I couldn't even remember who everyone was. (I imagine if you read this over a shorter period of time this wouldn't be as much of a problem.) I wish there had been a cast of characters type page that gave a short, one- or two-sentence explanation of who each person was.

There was also some extremely florid prose at parts, but I can forgive it. ( )
  g33kgrrl | Jul 22, 2013 |
The reader on the Book on CD distracted from my enjoyment of it. Perhaps anyone other than Mr. Thomas might have been able to keep my interest. ( )
  ClifSven | Jun 6, 2013 |
John Wilkes Booth. The Ford Theater. That’s about all I remembered about the Lincoln assassination before I read Manhunt. Now I know all the ins and outs of the dastardly event and the twelve days in April 1865 when the whole country was on the lookout for the presidential assassin. And a riveting twelve days it was!

That Booth succeeded in his assassination attempt with so little planning appears to me to be just plain luck. And if he had spent any time planning his escape (and if he hadn’t broken his leg), the Lincoln assassination might be the world’s most intriguing unsolved crime. But as it was, Booth spent a tough twelve days on the road before he died in on a Virginia farm surrounded by the 16th New York Cavalry.

One of the books we had selected for the non-fiction readers’ group at my public library was unavailable in paperback in time to read this year, so our librarian picked this one as a last-minute substitution. It’s not a book I would have selected, but once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.

James L. Swanson has done his homework (in fact, the Lincoln assassination is his life work) and Manhunt is well documented, well written and an absolutely fun read – a non-fiction thriller that fills in all the blanks for readers about one of the most historic events in US history. ( )
  NewsieQ | May 18, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
But for the most part the narrative - which relies on numerous first-hand and contemporary accounts, as well as Swanson's own retracing of Booth's steps - has a convincing feel, full of detail and dialogue. Manhunt is an enjoyable, and often exciting, portrayal of what must have been twelve of the most turbulent days in American history
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I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the Declaration of Independence...that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance...Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis?...If it can't be saved upon that principle...if this country cannot be saved without giving up on that principle...I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it.
--President-elect Abraham Lincoln during a speech on February 22, 1861, ten days before taking the oath of office as the sixteenth president of the United States.
This man's appearance, his pedigree, his coarse jokes and anecdotes, his vulgar similes, and his policy are a disgrace to the seat he holds...he is...the tool of the North, to crush out, or try to crush out slavery, by robbery, rapine, slaughter and bought armies...a false president yearning for a kingly succession...
--John Wilkes Booth to his sister at a private home shortly before President Lincoln's reelection in November 1864.
For my parents, Lennart and Dianne Swanson
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060518502, Paperback)

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.

April 14, 1865 Around noon, Booth learns that Lincoln is coming to Ford's Theatre that night. He has eight hours to prepare his plan.
10:15 pm: Booth shoots the president, leaps to the stage, and escapes on a waiting horse.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton orders the manhunt to begin. April 15 About 4:00 am: Booth seeks treatment for a broken leg at Dr. Samuel Mudd's farm near Beantown, Maryland. Cavalry patrol heads south toward Mudd farm.
Confederate operative Thomas Jones hides Booth in a remote pine thicket for five days, frustrating the manhunters. April 19 Tens of thousands watch the procession to the U.S. Capitol, where President Lincoln lies in state. Wild rumors and stories of false sightings of Booth spread. April 20 Stanton offers a $100,000 reward for the assassins, and threatens death to any citizen who helps them.
After hiding Booth in Maryland, Jones puts him in a rowboat on the Potomac River, bound for Virginia. More than a thousand manhunters are still searching in Maryland. In the dark, Booth rows the wrong way and first ends up back in Maryland. April 20-24 Booth lands in the northern neck of Virginia, and Confederate agents and sympathizers guide him to Port Conway, Virginia. April 24 Booth befriends three Confederate soldiers who help him cross the Rappahannock River to Port Royal and then guide him further southwest to the Garrett farm.
Union troops in Washington receive a report of a Booth sighting. They board a U.S. Navy tug and steam south, right past Booth's hideout at the Garrett farm. April 25 The 16th New York Calvary, realizing their error, turns around and surrounds the Garrett farm after midnight that night. April 26 When Booth refuses to surrender, troops set the barn on fire, and Boston Corbett shoots the assassin. Booth dies a few hours later, at sunrise. April 26-27 Booth's body is brought back to Washington, where it is autopsied, photographed, and buried in a secret grave.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:30 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Recounts the escape of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, and follows the intensive search for him from the streets of Washington, D.C., through the swamps of Maryland, into the forests of Virginia.

(summary from another edition)

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