S.'s Reviews > Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

Manhunt by James L. Swanson
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Sep 20, 09

bookshelves: non-fiction, read-in-2009
Read in July, 2009

I suggest reading "Manhunt" backwards. That way, when you get to the end, Lincoln hasn't been fatally wounded, Mary Todd hasn’t tottered over into madness and that poor couple of horses haven't been shot and sunk in the swamp.

Seriously though, this account of JW Booth’s capture is worth reading. The drawback is sometimes the writing lays it on too thick. It works effectively at the beginning: the assassination itself, for example, is gripping. And since Booth was an actor, the Shakespearian allusions aren’t necessarily out of place, but it all grows uncomfortably corny as the story goes on. It’s awkward enough when historians and biographers start imagining what people might have been thinking. When they start to dramatize those imagined thoughts, it makes for a real eye-roller.

While Booth and his accomplice were seeking sanctuary on the Easter weekend after the assassination, the author writes – “In the early hours of Black Easter, Booth and Herold sought their salvation, not in church, but at the door of a faithful Confederate. If Cox turned them away, Christ’s dying words on Good Friday’s cross, ‘it is finished,’ would describe their fate.” (Did you groan? I did.) Granted, Booth entertained a grand vision of himself. Still, the author needn’t humor him.
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Reading Progress

06/29/2009 page 54
11.64% "excuse my french but "jeepers!" this is good" 2 comments
07/03/2009 page 177
38.15% "being a lincolnophile, i do enjoy this, and the writing, which is occasionally over the top..."
07/06/2009 page 306
65.95% "the calvary's coming, folks!"

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Nathan Henrion "It’s awkward enough when historians and biographers start imagining what people might have been thinking. When they start to dramatize those imagined thoughts, it makes for a real eye-roller."

absolutely agree on this point!


James L. Wallace It was a very well written book, but not my favorite account. Prefer this writing of the manhunt over O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln. My all-time favorite is The Day Lincoln Was Shot, by Jim Bishop. All this being said, highly recommend Manhunt!


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