As an inagural review for my shiny new blog, I want to give some time to “Manhunt–The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer”, by James Swanson. Not only is this a thoroughly enjoyable book on a crime that’s now 150 years old, it reads more like a thriller novel, keeping the reader enthralled from page one with never-before seen details of John Wilkes Booth’s 12 day run from justice.
If you’re not familiar with John Wilkes Booth, just imagine that, in today’s world, Brad Pitt assassinated the president, and you’d be getting close to the craziness that followed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865.
Contrary to the feeling of modern times, Lincoln was not a universally liked President in April of 1865-and John Wilkes Booth thought he was going to be a national hero after his plan to murder the President, Vice President and Secretary of State was put into motion.
Swanson paints Booth’s massive ego and delusion in broad strokes, following the mental and physical decline in the 12 days before his death in a barn on a stranger’s farm.
I recommend this even for the most casual fan of true crime-it’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s easily digestable and is a great lesson in American history.