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 momentousday 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


10 thoughts on “Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse

  1. Straw Straw says:

    One of my pet peeves is when authors write a good book, get a second book deal, and then rush to write said book There are many problems with this one 1 it needs an editor to cut out the copious amount of material that is also found in his first book 2 he needs to cut down on the Mary Lincoln bashing and 3 it needs to quit using the obscure term catalfaque every other fecking page It was disappointing and you would be better served finding any number of other books that handle the dual s One of my pet peeves is when authors write a good book, get a second book deal, and then rush to write said book There are many problems with this one 1 it needs an editor to cut out the copious amount of material that is also found in his first book 2 he needs to cut down on the Mary Lincoln bashing and 3 it needs to quit using the obscure term catalfaque every other fecking page It was disappointing and you would be better served finding any number of other books that handle the dual subjects better


  2. Joe Joe says:

    The author of the very good book, Manhunt The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln s Killer, sticks with that same time period, the spring of 1865, and chronicles Abraham Lincoln s final days, murder and extended funeral in parallel with the plight, escape from Richmond, journey south and capture of his Confederate counterpart, Jefferson Davis These separate historic events taking place as the Civil War concluded.Swanson also uses the same narrative style he used in Manhunt to tell these two stories ut The author of the very good book, Manhunt The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln s Killer, sticks with that same time period, the spring of 1865, and chronicles Abraham Lincoln s final days, murder and extended funeral in parallel with the plight, escape from Richmond, journey south and capture of his Confederate counterpart, Jefferson Davis These separate historic events taking place as the Civil War concluded.Swanson also uses the same narrative style he used in Manhunt to tell these two stories utilizing anecdotes and first hand accounts, back filling with brief biographical sketches and highlighting excerpts from, letters, handbills, newspapers and diaries This wealth of historical detail works some of the time, but unfortunately not all particularly during the middle of the book The narrative becomes bogged down with both the 1300 mile journey of Lincoln s funeral train each individual stop along the way touching and poignant in its own way, but all very similar in general and Davis journey south, staying one step ahead of the Union Army, meeting with mixed reaction from the southern populace shunned in one town, embraced in another until his final capture in Georgia Although I understand that this critique is much easier to highlight than to solve, there arethan a few narrative lulls in Bloody Crimes On the positive side the author provides very good portraits of Lincoln and Davis, who although were very different men, shared several common albeit at times tragic experiences, i.e as young men the loss of their first true loves to disease and the deaths of beloved sons while serving in the executive office The reader is also privy to the personal lives of both men, including their relationships with and behavior of their respective spouses Mrs Davis Varina at times understandably panicked as she fled Richmond with her young children and leaving her husband behind, somehow managed to keep her head and was always highly functional A quitter she was not.Mrs Lincoln Mary Todd is not portrayed in such a flattering light She is described by the author as mercurial, jealous, insulting, rude, selfish, deceitful, paranoid, financially dishonest and, without doubt, mentally unbalanced An opinion I have no problems with And Swanson highlightsthan a few examples to back his words up For instance, she left Tad, the youngest Lincoln son, home alone the night his father was shot and in the subsequent days selfishly played games with where her husband would be buried These later antics while the nation mourned and much resource monopolized in the planning and execution of the cross country funeral train the First Widow dithering with petty concerns about which town andimportantly who deserved the resting place of the beloved President To compound the issue Mary did not travel with her husband s remains, holing up in the Executive Mansion, while the new President, Andrew Johnson, carried on his duties from a hotel room.Mary has always been a Lincoln conundrum with many previous authors books either glossing over her faults or attempting to defend her tantrums, spending habits and at times downright irrational behavior as temperamental It s refreshing to read an account with the proverbial bark off On the down side, some readers may cringe at the lesser, but grisly details supplied here, i.e Lincoln s autopsy and the state of his corpse as it traveled cross country And lastly, this reader found a few instances where less info would have sufficed Four or five pages are spent describing the scene outside Ford s Theater just after Lincoln was shot, including the hypothetical narrative that the ensuing panic mimicked that of a fire We all know what happened inside the theater and it wasn t a fire These over padded moments are frequent enough to impede the narrative An interesting read, but nowhere near as engaging as Manhunt


  3. Gary Land Gary Land says:

    This was an excellent book on a somewhat unusual subject Swanson argues that the process of Lincoln s death pagaent, particularly his funeral train, turned him into America s secular saint Many years later, though on a smaller scale, Jefferson Davis became a symbol of the South s Lost Cause, but time has not sustained this image well This volume surprised me in two ways First, it makes Davis a muchsympathetic figure than most other works that describe him Second, although he is not This was an excellent book on a somewhat unusual subject Swanson argues that the process of Lincoln s death pagaent, particularly his funeral train, turned him into America s secular saint Many years later, though on a smaller scale, Jefferson Davis became a symbol of the South s Lost Cause, but time has not sustained this image well This volume surprised me in two ways First, it makes Davis a muchsympathetic figure than most other works that describe him Second, although he is not the author s subject, the invisibility of Andrew Johnson puzzled me Through descriptions of Lincoln s funeral and the subsequent journey of his body by train to Springfield, Illinois, I kept wondering when Johnson was sworn in as president and where he was during all these ceremonies Although there are a couple of brief references to him, it almost seems as if the nation did not need a chief executive during these days Nonetheless, Swanson has written a highly readable book, which makes me want to obtain his earlier work, MANHUNT


  4. Louise Louise says:

    Parallel Lives Not Parallel Legacies This starts with Robert E Lee s telegrams to Jefferson Davis about his inability to hold defensive lines and his surrender days later at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 The narrative of events ends with Davis s capture on May 10, 1865 A summation of Davis s last years and an analysis of history s memory of the Lincoln and Davis follows The title is a little off since there is not much on the bloody crimes and the book isthan the chase for Davis an Parallel Lives Not Parallel Legacies This starts with Robert E Lee s telegrams to Jefferson Davis about his inability to hold defensive lines and his surrender days later at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 The narrative of events ends with Davis s capture on May 10, 1865 A summation of Davis s last years and an analysis of history s memory of the Lincoln and Davis follows The title is a little off since there is not much on the bloody crimes and the book isthan the chase for Davis and Lincoln s death pageant.Other biographies cover this period for each of the principals The Avenger Takes His Place Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation covers the short period following Lincoln s assassination through the life of Andrew Johnson I don t know if Lincoln and Davis have been featured in a single volume covering this eventful period before this If they haven t this book is not only welcome, but long overdue.As President Lincoln prepared for his fateful night at Ford s theatre on April 14, Davis had already fled not just Richmond but Danville, VA as well As the doctors were tending to Lincoln and mourning for him began, Davis was unwelcomed in Charlotte, NC and supporters, soldiers and cabinet members began to go their own ways It took almost a week for news of Lincoln s assassination to reach Davis, and when it did, Davis s thoughts turned to how Andrew Johnson would differ from Lincoln in pursuit of him Davis didn t consider that he d have a bounty on his head as a potential conspirator.The description of the nation s mourning for Lincoln, his casket traveling to its resting place all managed with 19th century technology communication, is not only a highlight of the book, it is beautiful prose While the nation pours out its heart for Lincoln, by contrast, Davis is on the run, he is camping in a tent 27 years later, after a two year incarceration, financial failures and an eventual retreat to the home of a supporter, Davis had a similar funeral train with mourners expressing both personal and symbolic grief for the South s losses in the war.Throughout the book author James Swanson draws parallels of the two men They were born a year apart and not far away from each other They both lost their first loves to a similar disease probably typhoid and buried young sons Both represented the hopes of their constituencies as expressed in their respective funeral processions While Davis s cause, may be dressed up with states rights rhetotic, today we have a conscious or unconscious acceptance that it really was about slavery Lincoln lives on, and his stature seems to grow each year while Davis name and legacy wanes.This book is highly recommended for its scope and its page turning qualities


  5. Susan (aka Just My Op) Susan (aka Just My Op) says:

    Based on the length of the subtitle, The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln s Corpse, I should have known that the book wouldn t be short Because of some incorrect online information hey, you can get wrong info on the Web , I expected about 200 pages and was just a little disconcerted to find around 400.I shouldn t have worried This book was informative, entertaining, and thoroughly readable The story starts a few days before the Lincoln assassination and follows L Based on the length of the subtitle, The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln s Corpse, I should have known that the book wouldn t be short Because of some incorrect online information hey, you can get wrong info on the Web , I expected about 200 pages and was just a little disconcerted to find around 400.I shouldn t have worried This book was informative, entertaining, and thoroughly readable The story starts a few days before the Lincoln assassination and follows Lincoln before his death, and his body after his death It begins at the same time to tell the story Jefferson Davis as his hopes of winning the war were turning to dust, and continues until his death The two stories are intertwined in the book, just as they were in reality, with information about what was happening to each of them on the same days.Most U S citizens know a fair amount about Abraham Lincoln Fewer of us, including me, know much about Davis The author gives insight into his character as well as putting to rest some of the myths about him, and I found it quite fascinating.The cities that hosted Lincoln s corpse on the trip to his burial genuinely mourned him, but there also was competition over what city could provide the most elaborate welcome and settings for the viewing It all seems quite macabre, especially considering the length of the tour and the state of embalming science at the time I found the descriptions of the various floral tributes, hearses, and catafalques a bit too detailed for my taste but it certainly gave substance to that final trip.Although the copy that I read was an Advance Reader s Edition, it contained quite a few photographs and illustrations that added to the story Reading it makes me want to read the author s earlier work,Manhunt The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln s Killer.Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review


  6. Rob Rob says:

    UPDATE This book never got better The writing was completely boring, even to a history buff like me The thrilling chase for Jefferson Davis was anything but thrilling There was no sense of drama and only the vaguest and feeblest attempt to capture the emotions which accompanied the chase and the actual capture This book may as well have been a checklist of historic facts First this happened then this happened then this happened and then he died This was the most disappointing book UPDATE This book never got better The writing was completely boring, even to a history buff like me The thrilling chase for Jefferson Davis was anything but thrilling There was no sense of drama and only the vaguest and feeblest attempt to capture the emotions which accompanied the chase and the actual capture This book may as well have been a checklist of historic facts First this happened then this happened then this happened and then he died This was the most disappointing book I have read in a very long time.This book gets worse and worse I have no doubt the author did a ridiculous amount of research but that alone does not make a good book I could go into a library, copy copious amounts of material, and paste them together, but I would not have created a book The author seems unsure of what is important versus what is not important He goes into excruciatingly minute details of certain items, and then completely glosses over things which I presume would be interesting The best things I can say for this book are 1 it makes meinterested to learn about Jefferson Davis and the fall of the Confederacy, 2 it clearly demonstrates that no one isfascinated with all things Lincoln than this author and 3 if there is ever a trivia question posed to me regarding any detail of the life of the assistant mortician who rode with Lincoln s body on the funeral train, or how much per board foot the U.S was charged for the lumber used to create grandstands for the funeral, or the name of the proprietor who supplied the black cloth for Mary Lincoln s funeral dress, I now know I can t imagine why anyone would care but I now know.Every critic quoted on the back cover of this book who lauded it as compelling thrilling and riveting should be banned from every writing another review and or punched in the face depending upon your temperament, of course


  7. Simon Simon says:

    It s a clever idea to link the hunt for Jefferson Davis with the Lincoln funeral procession, and Swanson pulls it off There are some interesting biases that come through He dislikes Mary Todd Lincoln to the point of being contradictory At one point he criticizes both her and Robert Lincoln for failing to bring Tad to his father s deathbed, but six or seven pages he records the first lady as calling for her younger son s presence I also think he tends to idealize Jefferson Davis out of all pr It s a clever idea to link the hunt for Jefferson Davis with the Lincoln funeral procession, and Swanson pulls it off There are some interesting biases that come through He dislikes Mary Todd Lincoln to the point of being contradictory At one point he criticizes both her and Robert Lincoln for failing to bring Tad to his father s deathbed, but six or seven pages he records the first lady as calling for her younger son s presence I also think he tends to idealize Jefferson Davis out of all proportion to the man s actual talents, and there is an unfortunate tendency on Swanson s part to make the Lost Cause a lotromantic proposition than it actually was for, say, black citizens of the South There are also quite a few scenic side trips along the way with minor characters But generally, the book holds interest, although the pictures scattered through it are so fascinating and so well chosen that the reader can only wish for


  8. Paul Pessolano Paul Pessolano says:

    Bloody Crimes is a folow up to Swanson s highly successful, Manhunt The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln s Killer This book is quite unique in its telling of the events surrounding the death of Abraham Lincoln and his funeral and the chase to find Jefferson Davis.The book starts with the assassination of Lincoln and then parallels the chase for Davis, and the transporting of Lincoln s body from Washington to Springfield, Illinois.Swanson highlights the funeral train carrying Lincoln s body, the tow Bloody Crimes is a folow up to Swanson s highly successful, Manhunt The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln s Killer This book is quite unique in its telling of the events surrounding the death of Abraham Lincoln and his funeral and the chase to find Jefferson Davis.The book starts with the assassination of Lincoln and then parallels the chase for Davis, and the transporting of Lincoln s body from Washington to Springfield, Illinois.Swanson highlights the funeral train carrying Lincoln s body, the towns that the train went through, and the reception received at every stop The reader will be amazed at the preparations made for the trip and the pageantry that was put together to honor the assassinated President.The other side of the story is the evacution of the Confederat Capitol by Jefferson Davis and his attempt to continue the fight from another location Jefferson is totally dedicated to the southern cause and it s people He is continually advised to give up the fight and flee to a foreign country He resists fleeing until the last moment but finds that he has waited too long and is captured.The culmination for Lincoln is his internment in Springfield, Illinois The story of Jefferson Davis continues as he released from prison and finds that he may berevered now than when he was Presidnet of the Confederacy Bloody Crimes tells the story of two men whose lives converged on both matters of principles and beliefs This book can be enjoyed regardless of whether you enjoy history or not, or whether you espoused the cause of the North or the South


  9. Barb Barb says:

    Not as engaging as Manhunt a lot of the urgency from that book is missing It obviously isn t there in the parts about Lincoln s journey back to Illinois, but it isn t there in the parts about Jefferson Davis s flight, either It seems like Swanson might have some ambivalence toward Davis Swanson clearly isn t ambivalent about Mary Lincoln he does not like her, and the bias shines through clearly every time she comes up in the story Fortunately, because she was in seclusion for this period, Not as engaging as Manhunt a lot of the urgency from that book is missing It obviously isn t there in the parts about Lincoln s journey back to Illinois, but it isn t there in the parts about Jefferson Davis s flight, either It seems like Swanson might have some ambivalence toward Davis Swanson clearly isn t ambivalent about Mary Lincoln he does not like her, and the bias shines through clearly every time she comes up in the story Fortunately, because she was in seclusion for this period, she doesn t come up often Yet Swanson seems to know for a fact that she was WRONG for not allowing Tad to be on the train I m not sure how I feel about Mary Lincoln, but I can say that she haslayers than Swanson is willing to give her credit for Overall, not a bad read I learned some details in the section on Lincoln, but not much mostly just a few interesting stories that Swanson dug up but aren t particularly vital to the overall story The information about Davis was pretty much all new, if only because I knew nothing before


  10. Elaine Nelson Elaine Nelson says:

    Fascinating coverage of a part of the Civil War that I d never really thought about the immediate aftermath of Lee s surrender and Lincoln s assassination In particular, I was intrigued by the slow unwinding of the end of the Confederacy Davis s hopes to keep going, the surrenders of the various armies, the insistence of his associates that Davis either flee the country or try to keep the Confederacy going in Texas What bugged me, ultimately, was the entirely sympathetic treatment of Da Fascinating coverage of a part of the Civil War that I d never really thought about the immediate aftermath of Lee s surrender and Lincoln s assassination In particular, I was intrigued by the slow unwinding of the end of the Confederacy Davis s hopes to keep going, the surrenders of the various armies, the insistence of his associates that Davis either flee the country or try to keep the Confederacy going in Texas What bugged me, ultimately, was the entirely sympathetic treatment of Davis and the Confederacy, which just made me madder and madder in the last portion of the book Davis lived to be a VERY old man, ultimately receiving the adulation of Southerners as the exemplar of the Lost Cause And good griefin a lot of ways IMHO the Lost Cause is one of the root causes of the mess of modern American politics So cue gnashing of teeth trying to read the last chapter in particular