College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

Manhunt Manhunt: the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

by James L. Swanson, Harper Perennial, 2007

Reviewed by Richard J. McGowan


This year, Washington, D.C. has enthusiastically displayed Lincoln memorabilia in all manner, shape, and form. For instance, the Library of Congress displayed the original Emancipation Proclamation, the one shown his cabinet in private. That display is entirely appropriate for the 200th birthday of the President many revere as the greatest president ever. Hence, as the year ends, it is fitting to read ¬Manhunt, which vividly portrays Lincoln's end. Lincoln's assassination began perhaps the greatest pursuit of a criminal in history. But how could the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, have eluded the greatest hunt, with federal soldiers and private investigators scouring the forests of Virginia and swamps of Maryland to find him? James L. Swanson, a thoroughly meticulous researcher and Lincoln buff, provides that account. The story involves good luck and bad, heroic characters and the worst scoundrels. Among the little snippets, presented with great detail, are the actress Laura Keene, using the drama of Lincoln's death as a steppingstone; the plotters assembling in a boarding house; and Stanton's remark when Lincoln died. At the heart of the tale, though, is the vain and villainous John Wilkes Booth. Swanson explores as he explains the man who shot Lincoln.

The federal troops finally captured Booth and Swanson has very much done the same: he captured the person of Lincoln's killer.

- Richard McGowan is an instructor of business ethics and philosophy at Butler University.