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One of the more kinetic renderings of the Lincoln assassination, Swanson's synthesis of the sources is bound to be a cover-to-cover reading hit with history lovers. The author strategically confines his chronology to the hours surrounding the crime and the ensuing pursuit of the perpetrators, contrasting with Michael W. Kauffman's American Brutus (2004), a biography containing every iota on Booth. Swanson has Booth and his confederates disperse from their final conspiratorial meeting, gulping a last whiskey and proceeding to their dastardly deeds--except for George Atzerodt, who ran from his assignment to murder Vice President Andrew Johnson. After the scenes of Booth's assault, theatrically calculated to ensure his notoriety whether he eluded capture or not, Swanson relates how he and accomplice David Herold bluffed their way out of Washington and linked up with rebel sympathizers. Artfully arranging Booth's flight with the frantic federal dragnet that sought him, Swanson so tensely dramatizes the chase, capture, and killing of Booth that serious shelf-life (plus a movie version starring Harrison Ford) awaits his account of the assassination. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2006 Booklist
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Small wonder that Manhunt has been optioned as a major motion picture. In this fast-paced, hour-by-hour account of the 12 days following Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, Swanson (coauthor, with Daniel R. Weinberg, of Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution) allows the reader to ride along with the Union cavalry and federal agents through the streets of the nation's capital and the wilds of Maryland and Virginia in pursuit of John Wilkes Booth, his coconspirators, and the host of rebel enablers who constituted a viable Confederate underground railroad. Swanson's eye for detail and his excellent thumbnail sketches of the figures involved bring the chronicle alive. There was the simultaneous assassination attempt on Secretary of State William Seward, and Secretary of War Stanton's pivotal role in keeping the nation together during the unrest, stoked by an irresponsible press, following Lincoln's death. Swanson details the conditions endured by Booth while on the run and the foolish mistakes committed by him and his pursuers during the long chase until the last stand at a farm near Port Royal, VA, on April 26. Swanson concludes with discussions of the trial and execution of the four secondary conspirators, the subsequent squabbling over reward money, and the unfolding of the post-assassination lives of the drama's major personalities. Ably researched and seamlessly written, this engrossing book is recommended for all Civil War and Lincoln collections-and all libraries.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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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. (Feb. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved