When it came to 2006 nonfiction, nothing could top February's "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer." Grippingly, James L. Swanson's true-life "Fugitive" makes for absolutely riveting reading.
Even if, like me, you don't consider yourself a history buff, know that "Manhunt" doesn't read like a textbook lecture, and for good reason: Rather skillfully, Swanson has turned one of this country's biggest events " the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth " into the stuff of thrill-a-minute exploits.
He does this not through his own imagination, either, but using journal entries, newspaper articles and courtroom testimony. Nevertheless, virtually every minute and movement of Booth's ill-fated escape attempt are accounted for; imagine the real-time concept of TV's "24" pasted onto a 140-year-old event and you've grasped the urgency with which "Manhunt" recounts its cat-and-mouse tale."Rod Lott