Anyone who thinks history is a dry and dull subject should read James Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. His fascinating book brings to life the 12 days after Lincoln’s assassination so effectively that you almost feel almost as if you were living through the period yourself. The dialogue in Manhunt is so real and vivid that some reviewers have erroneously described it as a novel, rather than as a history. Yet, amazingly, the dialogue is drawn word-for-word from firsthand accounts of what actually happened during this tumultuous period.
It makes you see through the eyes of people who actually lived in the Civil War and its aftermath. In that respect, it is much like William Safire’s historical novel Freedom, which brought Abraham Lincoln and his Civil War contemporaries to life. But unlike that book, it is not a novel, and it does not rely on historical recreation, nor contain the occasional factual inaccuracy. It is as engrossing as it is illuminating.