Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

I began interning as a Library Media Specialist in a middle school this week. One of the interesting tasks that I learned was how to process books to be shelved. I couldn't resist checking out Chasing Lincoln's Killer over the weekend. The beautifully crafted end papers portray historical primary source documents and photos that establish the book as non-fiction. The author also states:

"This story is true. All the characters are real and were alive during
the great manhunt of April 1865. Their words are authentic.
In fact, all the text appearing within quotation marks come from
original sources….What happened in Washington D.C. in the spring of 1865,
and in the swamps and rivers, forests and fields of Maryland and
Virginia during the following twelve days, is far too incredible
to have been made up."

I'm glad that the author included the above statement….because the book reads like a fictional story and it would be easy to imagine that the author filled in some of the details with historical guesses. However, all the details of the story including the description of the bullet hole in Lincoln's head, the savage attack on Secretary of State Seward and the words of J.W. Booth as he breathed his last words are recorded in sources verified by the author. I love this book for the history it presents to young adults and the spinning of the story in a way that holds a reader's attention. This book is author James L. Swanson's first for young adults and is based upon his best selling adult book Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. It's true that fact is more often than not, stranger than fiction. This book is great for tween to teen boys and girls, interested in history and drawn to non-fiction….and those that would be enjoy studying the map at the end of the book find all the points of intrigue described in the tale.

Swanson, J. Chasing Lincoln's Killer. (2009). Scholastic Press. New York.

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