Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James L Swanson  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Young Adult; Children;

Born: February 12 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Swanson was born in Chicago on Lincoln's birthday and attended The University of Chicago where he was a student of Illinois author, John Hope Franklin.

Biographical and Professional Information

James L. Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of ''Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.'' A former senior fellow in constitutional studies and former editor-in-chief of the ''Cato Supreme Court Review''. A graduate of the University of Chicago and the UCLA School of Law, he was a member of the law review and recipient of a moot court distinguished advocate award. He served as assistant to Chairman Susan Liebeler at the U.S. International Trade Commission, clerked for Douglas H. Ginsburg, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and was a special assistant in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, where he worked on Supreme Court nominations. He is the founding and current editor of the ''First Amendment Law Handbook'', an annual volume on recent developments in constitutional law and freedom of speech. He has written articles on intellectual property, the First Amendment, and other topics, and his work has appeared in the ''Chicago Tribune'', the ''Los Angeles Times'', ''American Heritage'', and other newspapers and magazines. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (P.S.)
ISBN: 0060518502

William Morrow Paperbacks. 2007

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

James L. Swanson's Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you've never read it before.

Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse
ISBN: 0061233781

William Morrow. 2010

In Bloody Crimes, James L. Swanson—the Edgar® Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt—brings to life two epic events of the Civil War era: the thrilling chase to apprehend Confederate president Jefferson Davis in the wake of the Lincoln assassination and the momentous 20 -day funeral that took Abraham Lincoln’s body home to Springfield. A true tale full of fascinating twists and turns, and lavishly illustrated with dozens of rare historical images—some never before seen—Bloody Crimes is a fascinating companion to Swanson’s Manhunt and a riveting true-crime thriller that will electrify civil war buffs, general readers, and everyone in between.

Chasing Lincoln's Killer
ISBN: 0439903548

Scholastic Press. 2009

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author James Swanson delivers a riveting account of the chase for Abraham Lincoln's assassin.

Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia.

Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis
ISBN: 0061560898

HarperCollins. 2010

New York Times bestselling author James L. Swanson brings to life the fast-paced, suspense-filled story of Abraham Lincoln's and Jefferson Davis's final journeys through our wounded nation following the Civil War.

This suspense-filled true-crime thriller—the young readers’ adaptation of Swanson’s Bloody Crimes—explores two epic events of the Civil War era: the manhunt to apprehend Confederate president Jefferson Davis in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the momentous 20-day funeral pageant that brought President Lincoln’s body from Washington, DC to his home in Springfield.

Full of fascinating twists and turns, and lavishly illustrated with dozens of rare historical images, Bloody Times captures the riveting stories of these two fallen leaders who changed the course of history. It’s perfect for young readers who enjoy dramatic nonfiction tales from the likes of Steve Sheinkin and Patricia McCormick.

This book contains a note from the author, a glossary, a list of important Civil War figures, and a guide to visiting the historic sites mentioned within. A companion to the bestselling and highly acclaimed Chasing Lincoln's Killer.

Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution
ISBN: 0061237620

Harper Perennial. 2008

This definitive illustrated history of Abraham Lincoln's assassination follows the shocking events from the tragic scene at Ford's Theatre to the trial and execution of John Wilkes Booth's coconspirators. Few remember them today, but once the names Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Edman Spangler, Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlin, and Dr. Samuel Mudd were the most reviled and notorious in America.

In Lincoln's Assassins, James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg present an unprecedented visual record of almost three hundred contemporary photographs, letters, documents, prints, woodcuts, newspapers, pamphlets, books, and artifacts, many hitherto unpublished. These rare materials evoke the popular culture of the time, record the origins of the Lincoln myth, take the reader into the courtroom and the cells of the accused, document the beginning of American photojournalism, and memorialize the fates of the eight conspirators.

The President Has Been Shot!: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
ISBN: 0545490073

Scholastic Press. 2013

A breathtaking and dramatic account of the JFK assassination by the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER!

In his new young-adult book on the Kennedy assassination, James Swanson will transport readers back to one of the most shocking, sad, and terrifying events in American history. As he did in his bestselling Scholastic YA book, CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER, Swanson will deploy his signature "you are there" style -- a riveting, ticking-clock pace, with an unprecedented eye for dramatic details and impeccable historical accuracy -- to tell the story of the JFK assassination as it has never been told before.

The book will be illustrated with archival photos, and will have diagrams, source notes, bibliography, places to visit, and index

End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
ISBN: 0062083481

William Morrow. 2013

In End of Days, James L. Swanson, the New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, brings to life the minute-by-minute details of the JFK assassination—from the Kennedys' arrival in Texas through the shooting in Dealey Plaza and the shocking aftermath that continues to reverberate in our national consciousness fifty years later.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, has been the subject of enduring debate, speculation, and numerous conspiracy theories, but Swanson's absorbing and complete account follows the event hour-by-hour, from the moment Lee Harvey Oswald conceived of the crime three days before its execution, to his own murder two days later at a Dallas Police precinct at the hands of Jack Ruby, a two-bit nightclub owner.

Based on sweeping research never before collected so powerfully in a single volume, and illustrated with photographs, End of Days distills Kennedy's assassination into a pulse-pounding thriller that is sure to become the definitive popular account of this historic crime for years to come.

Chasing King's Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin
ISBN: 0545723337

Scholastic Press. 2018

In his meteoric, thirteen-year rise to fame, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a mass movement for Civil Rights -- with his relentless peaceful, non-violent protests, public demonstrations, and eloquent speeches. But as violent threats cast a dark shadow over Dr. King's life, Swanson hones in on James Earl Ray, a bizarre, racist, prison escapee who tragically ends King's life.As he did in his bestselling Scholastic MG/YA books Chasing LIncoln's Killer and "THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT!", Swanson transports readers back to one of the most shocking, sad, and terrifying events in American history.With an introduction by Congressman John Lewis, and over 80 photographs, captions, bibliography, various source notes, and index included.



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