Sunday, January 23, 2022

REVIEW: Chasing Lincoln's Killer (nonfiction audiobook) by James L. Swanson, read by Will Patton

Chasing Lincoln's Killer is YA nonfiction. I checked it out through OverDrive.


Chasing Lincoln's Killer follows John Wilkes Booth from his decision to assassinate Lincoln (with some mentions of an earlier attempt to kidnap him), to his attempts to evade authorities afterward and eventual death. Contrary to what the title implies, more of the book's time is spent on the assassination (and his accomplices' efforts) than on the pursuit, probably because blood, gore, and death were deemed more interesting than a couple guys becoming increasingly rank as they attempted to escape to Virginia.

This wasn't something I'd normally have read, but I needed some new work-time listening, and this was available, unabridged, and relatively short. The narrator fit the book well, and the book itself was okay considering I went into it not knowing anything but the most basic details about Lincoln's assassination. I hadn't even known that Booth had been involved in a prior plot to kidnap Lincoln.

So, yes, I learned a few things, although some googling later on indicated that some of the things Swanson wrote about as if they were fact might have been fuzzier than he presented them. I wasn't sure how uncertain something had to be for him to mention that we don't know for sure what really happened, because there were definitely times when he pointed moments like that out.

Those with a low tolerance for gore should approach this with caution. The descriptions of Lincoln's assassination are graphic, right down to the path the bullet traveled in Lincoln's skull. Even the description of the efforts to take Lincoln somewhere more dignified to die were pretty gory. Lewis Powell's attempt to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward was also very detailed.

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