• by James L. Swanson
  • Narrated by Richard Thomas
  • 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history, the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild 12-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.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.


Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: If only all history lessons were taught by Richard Thomas, who elevates James L. Swanson's impeccably researched account of capturing John Wilkes Booth with this masterful performance. Thomas' pacing and nuanced narration make Manhunt seem more like a gripping thriller than a history tome. —Diana Dapito


What the Critics Say

Mystery Writers of America 2007 Edgar Award, Best Fact Crime
2006 Quill Award Nominee
Audie Award Finalist, Nonfiction, Abridged, 2007
"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


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.
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- F. Elizabeth Hauser

Somewhat over the top

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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- J

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-09-2006
  • Publisher: HarperAudio