I normally enjoy non-fiction History books, especially those based on American History that expand my knowledge base of a subject. My interest in Lincoln peaked when about seven years ago, I took a trip to Washington, D.C. and visited both Ford's Theatre and the Petersen Boarding House, where Lincoln died. It was touring these landmarks and seeing artifacts from the assasination that made me want to learn more than what I was taught in school.
James L. Swanson's book Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer is very detailed and well researched. Swanson clearly explains Booth's motives and accompliaces, while building a time-line of the events. Swanson seems to have left no detail unexplored.
I feel like I gained a comprehensive understanding of the events in a way that would have taken an entire college semester to explore. These classes are a rare-find, so supplementary reading, like Manhunt, are required for those interested.
On the flip side, Swanson's book was nearly unbearably dry. I read it over the course of several months and it even accompanied me on two separate trips to Europe. It just didn't grip me, which is a huge failing for a story filled with so much intrigued and action. This failing falls to the way that Swanson presented the material, not the material itself. Booth and his cohorts are an electic bunch of characters and the actual History of the events is facinating.
Swanson's presentation fluctuated between hard facts and trying to presume the emotions that the Historical figures were feeling. In many parts the pressumption of emotions was melodramatic and silly. I felt like on a scholarly level, Swanson really knows his stuff and on a fundamental level, there was nothing wrong with his writing. However, I felt disconnected to his style and this made the book very difficult to finish.
You should definitely take the time to learn about the Booth manhunt, as it is a facinating part of American History. However, I cannot recommomend Swanson's book, as the most entertaining way to go about it. It's comprehensive, but painfully dull.