April 1865 was one of the most momentous months in American history. Richmond fell to Union troops, Jefferson Davis was on the run, the government of the Confederacy collapsed, Lincoln was assassinated, and a 12 day manhunt was launched for his killer, John Wilkes Booth. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, by James L. Swanson, is a story that dives into the mind of the famous murderer of President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth. It keeps the reader intrigued from the beginning to end the story and takes you on a journey with the assassin and many different characters. This novel was positively Shakespearean. Not in the sense of poetry, but in the sheer drama of it. The plotting, the conspiracy, the murder. Swanson does a terrific job of putting together a stunningly complete and compelling narrative of Booth's time on the lam while armies hunted for him, all from interviews with the subjects, court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and other books written by those involved at the time. He reveals the roots of Booth's motivation, and his ego, along with that of his co-conspirators and those who hunted them all. One of the subtler revelations of this book is the intimacy of Washington in Lincoln's time. In Swanson's description, it was like a small town where everyone knew everyone and could approach anyone. Only some of the residents happened to be the President, the Secretary of State, the Vice President, the Secretary of War. People would call to Lincoln from the White House lawn, and he would open a window and give a quick speech. All that stands in contrast to the barricades on Pennsylvania Avenue today. Of course, it was what happened to Lincoln that spoiled that small town intimacy, and all the trust that went with it. Journal 2:
This book was very fascinating to me and very fast passed and it carefully explains how John W. Booth planned out each step of the murder and how his friends and collogues helped him plan and try to execute the...
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