“Why are you here?” I asked, only half joking.
James Swanson -- overnight sensation and best-selling author of Manhunt: The Twelve Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, grinned as he continued to sort the papers in his office on a Friday afternoon, which also happened to be the prettiest spring day at the height of cherry blossom season in Washington, D.C.
If ever there were a guy you wouldn’t expect to find at the office on such a perfect afternoon, it would be a guy who has just made seven figures from his book and movie advances alone.
Without hesitation, James responded, “I believe in the cause.” In other words, his work at The Heritage Foundation where our vision is to, "Create an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish."
The response deserves a bit of reflection: there he was, while his book was on The New York Times Best Sellers list for seventh week in a row -- toiling away at a non-profit organization when he could have been, well, just about anywhere else in the world living it up.
The nonchalant answer typifies James -- a man committed to what he loves, which are all things constitutional, all things conservative, and all things Lincoln -- and gives insight into why he enjoys enormous success in both his “day job” and with his first book.
His commitment to the rule of law, the fight to protect the constitution and plain ’ole hard work have twice landed him a position with one of the most brilliant legal minds in the nation -- former Attorney General and now Heritage Foundation Reagan Fellow, Edwin Meese.
James’ life-long personal interest in the assassination of Lincoln has inspired him to assemble one of the great collections of authentic Lincoln artifacts and memorabilia, including the playbill from Ford’s Theater the night the president was shot and a piece of an actress’ dress stained with his blood.
His quest for truth -- the hunger to know every detail, to learn every move, to scour clippings, letters, government reports, trial records and countless archives for tidbits on the fallen president and the search for his killer, has enabled James not to just write about history, but to take the reader on a journey so vivid and real you actually believe you are part of the posse.