Manhunt!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I just finished reading a fascinating, hard-to-put-down book called Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson. It is a remarkable account of John Wilkes Booth's escape and hiding after assisinating President Lincoln. If you enjoy historical novels with just enough creative liberty sprinkled in to make it readable like a novel, a la 1776, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, John Adams, etc., then this is a must read. Swanson has a follow-up book called, "Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trials and Executions" that I will be scouring amazon.com and ebay for. Since we just returned from our 10th anniversary cruise, bought a new house, and had to replace the water main already, I'll have to find it for $1.68 or less in order to be able to buy it before July of 2012. (I have a birthday in November, if anybody is keeping score at home).

The Booth family had a legacy as perhaps the preeminent stage acting family of its time. John Wilkes Booth, before becoming known as Lincoln's assassin, was one of the more famous actors of his time, pre-Hollywood, of course. His initial plan was not only to assassinate Lincoln, but to also kill Vice President Andrew Johnson, General Grant, and Secretary of State William Seward. He planned to take down the entire government by eliminating its top leadership. Because of the audacity of the plan and John Wilkes Booth's already public persona, Swanson chronicles how much of the memorabilia from Ford's Theatre, the home where Lincoln was treated, homes that sheltered Booth, locks of hair, etc. was immediately picked up by morbid collectors. Just on a random note, here are some odd sports items that I hope get preserved for future history.

1. Copies of BYU's 1984 National Championship Game. (And that all basketball and football tapes from 1998-2005 mysteriously disappear)
2. Mark McGwire's rec0rd-setting home run ball. (Sure he was probably on steroids, but that season I went out of my way to watch all of his at bats. I still remember watching him hit the record-breaker. It completely saved baseball after the strike)
3. Tecmo Bowl on the original Ninetndo (There was nothing as much fun as running for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns with Bo Jackson in one game)
4. Evander Holyfield's disfigured ears (They serve as a reminder to me to never mess with Mike Tyson because even when you win, you lose)
5. Kareem Abdul Jabbar's goggles and short shorts. (Just so I can show my children that the all-time NBA scoring leader looked like a complete nerd)

3 comments

Ang said...

Moving AND reading historical biographies? You're such a man. Hope you're doing well, settling in, so on and so on. Moving is exhausting. Forrest has been reading a good book called Mayflower that you might like. (If you can guess, it's about the Pilgrims). He keeps telling me little Pilgrimy factoids. As far as sports items that should be preserved, how about that picture of you as one of the shortest players on the Hunter Jr. High basketball team? It gives me hope that Ethan will someday grow.

7:51 AM
Sandy said...

Wow - that post of yours was quite the historical ride. John Wilkes Boothe and terrible BYU sports all in one informative place.

Actually, I had no idea Lincoln's killer was an actor. So does that mean he really did it, or he just ACTED like he did?

1:46 PM
jeff said...

i really liked manhunt as well. very interesting read.

11:18 PM