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Apple+ TV Joins the Chase for Booth

By Edward Epstein

Washington, D.C.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Apple TV+ has unveiled the trailer for Manhunt, its upcoming seven-part mini-series about the 12-day hunt for John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

The series is based on Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, which became a best seller after its 2006 publication. Author James L. Swanson, who has written six other books, won an Edgar Mystery Writers' award for the book. Swanson, a lawyer who lives in Washington, D.C., is also a collector of Lincoln memorabilia and artifacts.

In its promotional material, Apple describes the mini-series, in typical Hollywood hype, as "a conspiracy thriller about one of the best-known but least understood crimes in history. This is the astonishing story of the hunt for John Wilkes the fate of the nation hangs in the balance."

Of course, much has been written about the Booth conspiracy to kill Lincoln and other top officials of his administration just at the moment of their victory over the Confederacy. These include such notable books as Blood on the Moon by Lincoln Group member Edward Steers Jr. and Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth by Terry Alford, who has spoken to the Lincoln Group more than once, the last time being last December.

And there is the Surratt Society and Museum in Clinton, MD., named for and dedicated to the preservation and historical interpretation of the Surratt Tavern, run by John and Mary Surratt, Mary was part of the Booth conspiracy and was hanged for her role in the affair. John had died in 1862. Meanwhile, their son, John Jr., was tried as a Lincoln conspirator but not convicted. The trial ended with a hung jury.

But for the general public, the upcoming series could be informative and thought-provoking.

The series stars Anthony Boyle as Booth; Tobias Menzies as Secretary of War Edwin P. Stanton, who spearheaded the pursuit of Booth and his co-conspirators; and Hamish Linklater as Lincoln.

Ironically, most of the series was filmed in the heart of the Confederacy, around Savannah, Georgia. That state has attracted a lot of filming work because of tax breaks. But the Miller Theater on Broad Street in Philadelphia was used as a stand-in for Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot.

Booth was pursued for 12 days, from Washington into Maryland and then into Virginia, before he was killed in a barn in Port Royal, Va., on April 26.

The final episode in the Apple TV+ series will debut on April 19. The Booth mini-series is the latest in a procession of major TV and video productions about Lincoln. It follows CNN's Lincoln: Divided We Stand in 2021 and the History Channel's Lincoln in 2022, which was based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Leadership in Turbulent Times. She served as an executive producer for the series.

Those many hours of new video output show the public's continuing interest in the life and vision of Abraham Lincoln.

Assassination image from the Library of Congress


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