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Only two things set James L. Swanson’s new book apart from a typical Hollywood thriller: Manhunt has no romantic subplot, and it actually happened. Unlike most screenplays, Swanson’s gripping telling of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth in the days following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is backed up with contemporaneous documents and eyewitness accounts. Complete with a crime, a villain, and a chase, the tale unfolds in Civil War-era Washington and highlights the remarkable ease with which Booth pulled off the assassination—not a single government agent was protecting the president that night at Ford’s Theatre. And Swanson leaves no doubt about the killer’s motives—white supremacy and allegiance with the Confederacy. Sure, the book’s subtitle, The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, gives away a bit of the suspense—but most of us are ignorant enough about the specifics that Swanson’s detailed narrative will keep us reading. Swanson appears at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Ryan Grim)