Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer – A Brief Overview

“Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” is an extraordinary non-fiction book written by James L. Swanson. It vividly recounts the intense manhunt that ensued after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in April 1865. Swanson’s meticulous research and compelling narrative style make this book a must-read for history enthusiasts, true crime fans, and anyone interested in the events surrounding one of the most significant moments in American history.

The Story Unfolds

The book begins with the shocking assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer. “Manhunt” delves into the ensuing chaos, panic, and the urgent need to bring the conspirators to justice in order to stabilize the nation after the Civil War. Swanson meticulously covers the twelve-day manhunt that followed, as the authorities sought to capture Booth and his co-conspirators.

Swanson’s storytelling abilities transport readers back in time, vividly depicting the fear, suspense, and determination that fueled the search for Booth. Through extensive research, he documents the various obstacles encountered by the military and police forces as they pursued Booth and his accomplices, leading to their eventual capture and, in some cases, violent ends.

Praise and Recognition

“Manhunt” has garnered widespread acclaim since its publication. The book received the prestigious Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime in 2006, solidifying its position as a riveting work of non-fiction. Additionally, Swanson’s meticulous attention to detail and ability to create a gripping narrative have earned him praise from critics and readers alike.

Important Characters

Throughout “Manhunt,” numerous key figures emerge, each playing a pivotal role in the pursuit of Booth and the dismantling of the conspiracy. Some of the essential characters include:

  • John Wilkes Booth: The charismatic, albeit disturbed, actor and assassin behind the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln.
  • Thomas H. Eckert: A Union Army officer who utilized his telegraph expertise to aid in the manhunt.
  • David Herold: Booth’s accomplice and one of the primary targets of the manhunt.
  • Lewis Powell: Another conspirator who attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward but ultimately failed.
  • George Atzerodt: A conspirator who was tasked with assassinating Vice President Andrew Johnson but ultimately backed out.
  • Edwin Stanton: Lincoln’s Secretary of War, who played a crucial role in leading the manhunt and ensuring justice was served.

The book provides detailed insights into the lives, motivations, and actions of these important historical figures, allowing readers to understand their roles within the larger narrative.

The Legacy of “Manhunt”

Swanson’s “Manhunt” has left an indelible mark on the genre of true crime and historical non-fiction. The book has not only been praised for its scholarship and storytelling but has also served as a source of inspiration for adaptations in other mediums.

In 2010, “Manhunt” was adapted into a gripping documentary for the History Channel, further bringing the story to life for audiences. Its popularity and continued relevance highlight the enduring fascination with Abraham Lincoln, his assassination, and the subsequent manhunt for John Wilkes Booth.

From its meticulous research to its gripping narrative, “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” has firmly established itself as a must-read account of one of the most pivotal moments in American history.

Scroll to Top