Chasing Lincoln’s Killer
James L. Swanson
Swanson’s book has been on my shelf for a while, patiently waiting its turn to be read. It jumped to the top of the stack on Friday when I noticed one of my students reading it. When she finished, she had that look…the one that says the reader has been away for a while and is reentering the present. I asked her for a critique to which se replied, “Awesome!” She then asked to go to the library to check it out again for the weekend.
I purchased Chasing Lincoln’s Killer after a family trip to Washington D.C. and our visit to Ford’s Theatre which is a must see. The theater, a working theater, and the museum below are fascinating for kids and adults alike. This book makes me want to go back and visit.
This is Swanson’s first YA book based on his adult version Manhunt which was a New York Times bestseller. Swanson grabs his young readers with the first paragraph where he assures readers that what they are getting ready to read is true. I was hooked from page one. There are photos, sketches and maps to give readers an idea of what life was like at the time of Lincoln’s presidency.
There is so much more to the story of Lincoln’s assassination than I ever remember hearing before. Swanson does an excellent job of laying out the pieces and the players in away that is reader friendly. He also includes details that make the reader feel compassion for a president who struggled to keep the nation and his family intact. The author’s description of Lincoln as the Civil War ended, his relief and happiness, the compassion conveyed for Mary Todd Lincoln at her husband’s side after he was shot, all give modern day readers the human side of the event.
The author, born on Lincoln’s birthday, tells us that he has been fascinated by the Lincoln assassination since he was ten. He tells the story, using newspapers, diaries, court transcripts and other primary sources. His passion for history is clear and readers benefit from his efforts.
I highly recommend this book to YA readers and adults. History presented in a compelling way, you’ve got to love that!