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The 12-Day Chase to Catch Lincoln's Killer

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The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

James L. Swanson's Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you've never read it before.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 12, 2005 – In the early days of April 1865, with the bloody war to preserve the union finished, Swanson tells us, Abraham Lincoln was "jubilant." Elsewhere in Washington, the other player in the coming drama of the president's assassination was miserable. Hearing Lincoln's April 10 victory speech, famed actor and Confederate die-hard John Wilkes Booth turned to a friend and remarked with seething hatred, "That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I'll put him through." On April 14, Booth did just that. With great power, passion and at a thrilling, breakneck pace, Swanson (Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution) conjures up an exhausted yet jubilant nation ruptured by grief, stunned by tragedy and hell-bent on revenge. For 12 days, assisted by family and some women smitten by his legendary physical beauty, Booth relied on smarts, stealth and luck to elude the best detectives, military officers and local police the federal government could muster. Taking the reader into the action, the story is shot through with breathless, vivid, even gory detail. With a deft, probing style and no small amount of swagger, Swanson, a member of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, has crafted pure narrative pleasure, sure to satisfy the casual reader and Civil War aficionado alike. 11 b&w photos not seen by PW.

Customer Reviews


This was a very gripping story in the chase to capture John Wilkes Booth. Not only is it exciting, but a very factual account of what transpired after Lincoln was murdered. The reader will learn of the conspiracy that Booth concocted and those who participated. One of those, Mary Surratt, helped Booth with his escape and was hanged in the summer if 1865 for her role. Robert Redford is directing an upcoming movie, called "The Conspirator," which will detail her participation. Read "The Manhunt," as you will feel that Booth is taking you along for those treacherous days after the murder of our President. Settle in with your IPad, battery up, cause you won't want to put this thriller down.


In Manhunt author James L. Swanson has created a gripping account of the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln and the assassin's activities following the crime. Mr. Swanson's story is largely dialog-driven, using words taken from first-person accounts and courtroom testimony. This technique brings the reader right into the action in a most compelling way. The plight of John Wilkes Booth as he tries to evade capture is revealed as never before. You may find, as did I, unanticipated moments when you actually feel some pity for the injured, starving, muddied murderer on the run. If you think you have read all there is to know about the Lincoln assassination I suggest you read James Swanson's vivid page-turner, Manhunt.



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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Oct 13, 2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 496 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings