At the very center of this story is John Wilkes Booth, America's notorious villain. A Confederate sympathizer and a member of a celebrated acting family, Booth threw away his fame and wealth for a chance to avenge the South's defeat. For almost two weeks, he confounded the manhunters, slipping away from their every move and denying them the justice they sought.
Based on rare archival materials, obscure trial transcripts, and Lincoln's own blood relics, Manhunt is a fully documented work, but it is also 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.
©2006 James L. Swanson; (P)2006 HarperCollinsPublishers
"Pure narrative pleasure, sure to satisfy the casual reader and Civil War aficionado alike." (Publishers Weekly)
"Swanson's synthesis of the sources is bound to be a cover-to-cover reading hit with history lovers." (Booklist)
"Manhunt is vigorous and clear without sacrificing accuracy....Just as Booth did, the book saves its heavy ammunition for a final showdown." (The New York Times)
This was a natural after reading The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage. The story of the plotting of Lincoln's assassination, from the point of the assassin, and the ensuing account of his escape, 12 days on the lam, and eventual capture and death are told so well that it keeps the listener on the edge of his seat. The unwitting errors in navigation that led to Booth's capture make the reader realize just what a fluke it was that Booth was brought to justice, rather than disappearing into the deep South where he might have been hailed as a hero, rather than the cold-blooded killer that he was. On the flip side, the listener gains insight into the fact that Booth believed he was a patriot to a righteous cause, that of the lifestyle embraced by the South, and that his actions were justified. This is a "must listen" for any reader who enjoys American history or biography.
James Swanson’s “Manhunt” reads like a master thriller, and Richard Thomas absolutely nails the narration of this book. The combination of Swanson’s writing and Thomas’s narration is extraordinary. At times it was hard to remember that what I was listening to was, in fact, historical nonfiction of which I already knew the outcome, because it had all the feel and excitement of an excellent fictional work. The detailed description and account of the attack by assassin Lewis Powell on Secretary of State Seward the same night Lincoln was shot, for instance, just blew me away. This book could be adapted into a wonderful screenplay, it’s that good.
Never expected that an episode of american history normally summed up in a a paragraph or two could be made into such a fascinating book.
Brilliantly researched and written...you will feel as if you are there beside Booth & his conspirators (and sometimes even inside their heads)during every step of their plotting and attempted escape.
I normally don't comment on narration, but this is the first I've heard that really does add to the drama of the story without being over the top.
Swanson craftily frames the manhunt for Booth and his co-conspirators as a tale of suspense, relying on witness testimony, trial transcripts and newspaper accounts. He shies away from speculation, and the book is the better for it.
Although the book focuses on the manhunt, providing thrills and twists at every turn, it's actually a great primer on Booth, giving us a glimpse into the motivation of this complex player in American history.
The reading is solid and fast-paced, perfectly matching the tone of the written work. You'll want to know more after listening, and that makes this book a smashing success.
In three years of being an audible subscriber, I've finally found that holy grail book - a pitch-perfect tale that never, ever disappoints and is over way too soon.
What a pleasant read. The story moved along and was quite suspenseful. I thought the story was well researched. Embarrassingly, at times I (almost) wanted Booth to escapae capture. I also really enjoyed the interview with the author at the end and I wish audio book publishers would do more interviews like that. The narrator, Richard Thomas was really wonderful! What a breath of fresh air, especially after my last several reads where the narrators were awful. (Please, someone tell authors NOT to read their own work!) Richard Thomas really read the story with nuance. I hope he decides to do more audio work.
I would recommend this book. It is fast paced and moves along very well. I found it to be informative and provided a lot of insight into many details I did not know about the Lincoln assination. It is well researched and presented in an interesting format. The reader is easy to listen to and adds to the experience. If you like nonfiction, this book will provide you with background on one of the most important parts of American history.
I just finished listening to the book and I could not stop listening to it. The narrative was compelling and I walked away feeling as if I had learned a great deal about the assassination and the assassin. I am not a Hsitory of Civil War person, but this piqued my interest. Though many questions were answered, new ones about the time period were raised for me. I definitely want to read more about this time period. Though the narrators voice was a bit quirky, the book was terrific.
The Path Between the Seas to The Great Bridge ~ Kagan's Peloponnesian War to Gaddis' Cold One ~ Mornings on Horseback to a River of Doubt ~ Tom to Huck ~ Lennie to Charley ~ Cadfael to Cross ~ Rhyme to Reacher ~ Blomkvist and Salander to Wallander and Wallander ~ Moving Cheese or Eating Frogs ~ On the Road and Into Thin Air ~ The End of History to A Short History of Everything to ... well ... everything else.
Lincoln's assassin almost escaped. It was a near thing ~ he would have disappeared into the Deep South, and perhaps out of the country, were it not for a few mistakes and some bad luck. And he would have escaped a hero and a patriot ~ at least in his own mind and in the hearts of die-hard confederates. Manhunt tells this tale.
Swanson helps us track Booth's flight, his eventual betrayal and ultimate capture and death. But he does much more. By presenting the plot to assassinate the President from the assassin's perspective, and following Booth and his cohorts through the deed and its aftermath, we are shown history through a usually neglected lens. This is not to imply any sympathy for Booth. Instead, Swanson helps us to better understand this moment of history and marvel at how historic events so often turn on mundane, seemingly trivial, details.
Swanson tells a terrific tale and recounts an important moment in our past. Thomas narrates it superbly. We gain a more-than-worthwhile Audible selection.
James Swanson has not only meticulously researched the events surrounding the assassination of President Lincoln and Booth’s subsequent 12-day flee from Union authorities, but he presents a detailed account of one of the most intriguing stories in the annals of American history in a riveting novel-esque manner that kept me on the edge of my seat almost from the outset. The narration is flawless, as is the audio quality. Definitely recommended.
I hesitated before ordering because I generally don't like ABRIDGED works, but there was plenty here.
The story was an amazing part of history in ultimate detail, and I was left feeling that the author included every bit of his research in the book. The detail was so thorough that I wondered what an unabridged version could have added. I'm not saying this was a good thing... the drama added to the depth of detail resulted in a drawn-out narration full of (supposed) exclamation marks. The description of Booth actually pulling the trigger of the gun during the assassination was longer than this review.
The read by Richard Thomas was only fair. While I have always been impressed by Mr. Thomas' acting credentials, his read was pretty much "John Boy" all the way through, without much variation for the various characters quoted.
The two star rating is for the fascinating story told here -- despite the cumbersome writing and laconic narration, it was interesting to listen to all the facts that were unknown to most before the publication of Manhunt.
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