Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson

There are many books I have read in the past and now wish to tell you about, but it seems like cheating to post a review so long after having read the book. Nevertheless from time to time I have posted such reviews because I believe they are worthy of some attention. And so... here is yet another.

I read Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer in the fall of 2006. My husband has met/seen the author at various functions in the past and so when we came upon this book in a bookstore we both were very curious to read it -- not only because of the very slight acquaintance with the author, but also because of the fascinating subject matter.

Manhunt opens with the morning of Good Friday 1865 and follows the steps of John Wilkes Booth as he plans the assassinations of President Abraham Lincoln and several members of his executive cabinet. As the story progresses the author describes in accurate detail the actions of Booth and his gang as they make their attacks upon their victims leading to injury and in at least one case death. While a few pages are dedicated the details of what happened to the other members in Booth's gang as they made their escapes the focus of the book is upon Booth himself and his escape south.

Be warned both the actual and the attempted assassinations, as well as a few other events in the book, are a little grizzly, but not so bad that I was unable to finish the book. If you can handle a newspaper article about a murder, read a history book about a crime or even or watch a crime show on TV today (which can be a lot worse), you can handle the historical facts surrounding the injuries and deaths to subjects within this book.

I've always loved history and I'm particularly fond of American history. Swanson's book is an excellent weaving of history and story telling, which makes for a definite page turner. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it is historically accurate it does not read as a history book. At 391 pages (excluding notes and bibliography) this book was a relatively quick read -- I think it might have taken me two weeks to finish (this was when I was working full time and didn't have as much time to read). We own a hardback copy, but most libraries should have this on their shelves as it is a recent publication.


Anonymous said...

Ooooo...sounds awesome. I'm adding it to my tbr-list. :D

Sarah said...

Sounds good! I'll have to see if our (UK) library owns a copy.
Thanks very much for leaving me a comment. Hmmm, I've never really thought about a favourite genre, I guess I probably have one but I'm not sure what it is. I know I haven't really read much SF, chick lit, memoirs, autobiographies... What does that leave me with? :D
I want to shake it up a bit though, so I'm open to any suggestions, what do you recommend?

Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah,
Btw, I wrote up a review of Silas Marner par your request. :) Go check it out.

Sonia Rumzi said...

Sounds wonderful. I like how you reviewed without spoilers. Thanks. :)

B-rad said...

Thanks Sarah! I decided to read Manhunt for myself and thoroughly enjoyed it! I usually read history books that cover a wide swath of time, measured in the hundreds or thousands of years. In contrast, Manhunt's focus on a period of just 12 days was refreshing... it read like a novel to me!

Sorry I'm coming to your review three years late!