Monday, October 26, 2009

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

When John Wilkes Booth learned that Abraham Lincoln would be attending a play at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, a theater Booth had virtually unlimited access to, he couldn't believe his luck. It was finally his chance to kill the president he abhorred, but he only had a few hours to make plans. And boy did he hatch a plan that also included the murder of Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward. He quickly got his co-conspirators in position, planned his escape, and waited for the perfect moment to kill the president, a task he unfortunately completed.

 It's highly probable that most Americans know that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, but many don't know about the 12-day hunt for Booth through the Maryland and Virginia countrysides. James L. Swanson's Chasing Lincoln's Killer describes the events leading up to and after the assassination and greatly details his escape and eventual capture and death. Readers learn about the Confederate sympathizers who provided weapons, food, and shelter to Booth and his co-conspirator, David Herold, along the way; they learn about the investigation that led up to his capture; and they learn about the trials of the co-conspirators.

Chasing Lincoln's Killer is what great nonfiction should be. It reads like a heart-pounding story with enough detail to give you an intimate picture of Booth, but it doesn't overwhelm you with facts and details that make a lot of nonfiction difficult to navigate. Photographs sprinkled throughout offer visuals of the main "characters" in the book and take you back to 1865. You almost forget that this really happened and that you're not reading a novel.

Highly recommended. 

This book is the YA adaptation of Swanson's Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, and I'm eager to read it for even more detail.

Chasing Lincoln's Killer is a Cybils nominee in the MG/YA Nonfiction category.

ISBN:  978-0439903547  | Publisher/Publication Date:  Scholastic (February 2009)  |   Source: Copy from public library

Nonfiction Monday is hosted at Wrapped in Foil today.


  1. Yes, I loved this one! I listened to it on audiobook, which was fabulous. I'd definitely recommend it, too!

  2. I was just THRILLED by this book. I passed it off to my mom, dad, and brother this weekend because this book deserves a big audience.

    Love the spammy comment above. So many good keywords and yet so so wrong.

  3. Abby, I think it would definitely be awesome to listen to on audiobook, and Janssen, I agree with you that it deserves a big audience.

    BTW--I had the flu last week and somehow completely missed that spam comment. Deleted now. I seem to be getting more and more every day but hate the thought of moderating. Sigh...

  4. At least I hope that lincon's dead. it wasn't a conspiracy like other presidents before. It is quite common these kind of conspiracing on US.

  5. i love this boook!!!!!!!!!

  6. Overall I thought it was a good book. Very suspenseful. It was one of those books that I couldn't stop reading until the end came.

  7. Actually this book was very annoying to read. I prefer other stuff instead.