Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Non-Fiction: Incredible

Chasing Lincoln's Killer, by James L. Swanson--This young adult book is a distillation of Swanson's adult non-fiction book, Manhunt: The Twelve-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Liberally illustrated with newspaper clippings, woodcuts, and photographs, Chasing Lincoln's Killer is a wild ride through twelve days in history. I learned more about Lincoln's assassination in the two or three hours it took me to read this book than I recall ever learning in all my school years.

John Wilkes Booth and three others plotted to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward. His aim? The restoration of the Confederate States of America. He was convinced that, with Lincoln gone, the South could regroup and defeat the North.

Swanson leaves no room for the squeamish as he details the gruesome happenings of the night of April 14, 1865. From the doctors' probing of the bullet wound in Lincoln's skull to the knife attack on William H. Seward and his family, readers are treated to a complete, but not sensational, recounting of the atrocities.

Very well done.

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