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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,323 ratings  ·  335 reviews
On the morning of April 2, 1865, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, received a telegram from General Robert E. Lee. There is no more time—the Yankees are coming, it warned. Shortly before midnight, Davis boarded a train from Richmond and fled the capital, setting off an intense and thrilling chase in which Union cavalry hunted the Confederate president.

Two week
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by William Morrow (first published 2010)
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Gary Land
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 much more sympathetic figure than most other works that describe him. Second, although he is not ...more
Paul Pessolano
"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
Sep 08, 2010 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: U.S. History Buffs
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
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, ...more
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 is more than the chase for Davis an
Elaine Nelson
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
Unlike many books covering the events of April 14, 1865, this book's main focus isn't on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, except to tell about the event itself, as much as it describes what happened from the moment Lincoln was shot until he was laid in his grave. There are dozens of excellent books out there if one wants to read about the assassination of Lincoln and its conspirators but this book is for those who want to read about the pageantry and spectacle of his funeral and transport t ...more
Brenda Clough
This review originally appeared in the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Magazine (

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is upon us, and the tide of publications and commemorations is rising fast. Since the Civil War essentially kicked off the modern funeral industry, this increasing interest offers many relevant books for us. Award-winning author James Swanson’s previous volume was a gripping account of the escape and capture of John Wilkes Booth. His new book BLOOD
Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis tracks in a narrative timeline the events leading up to and beyond one of the nation's most memorable and tragic times in American History, that is the assassination of an American hero, Abraham Lincoln and the subsequent manhunt for of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis.

While most of us know quite a bit about the demeanor and leadership of Lincoln, few of us know about the man behind the legend of D
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jim Gallen
“Bloody Crimes” is the dual story of two presidents, Abraham Lincoln as he lived the last days of his life and whose funeral train retraced his route from Springfield to Washington and Jefferson Davis as his nation collapsed and he fled for his life and a place to make a stand.

The story begins with its focus on Richmond, where Davis receives progressively direr reports from his army, eventually advising him to evacuate the capitol, while Lincoln is with his army awaiting the chance to take posse
Bloody Times by James Swanson is a very informative and detailed nonfiction book about the death of Abraham Lincoln and the relationship between himself and the confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Abraham Lincoln is the main character in this book and he is portrayed as a strong and passionate leader for his country. His past is quite sorrowful as he has had many deaths in his family including two of his sons, Eddie and William, his mother, his brother, and his sister. The book mentions brie ...more
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Owen Bianchi December 18, 2014
Bloody Times, by James L. Swanson, is a book about the funeral for the great Abraham Lincoln and the manhunt for Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. This book is a nonfictional narrative that goes through the events that occurred in the U.S from 1865 when the Civil War was coming to an end, to the death of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. This amazing tale goes on from Buffalo, New York, where Lincoln’s dead body was shown on displa
Stephanie Pounds
Bloody Crimes is a recap of the last few weeks of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. In both the North and the South, their wartime leaders began journeys. Lincoln, in death, moving from Washington to Springfield and Davis, in flight, escaping Richmond. I chose this book on a recommendation from a friend and because I enjoyed Swanson's earlier work, Manhunt. He does disappoint. Going into the book, I knew the basics of the journeys (less about David than Lincoln), but Swanson fleshes out ...more
I'm guessing that this author of "Manhunt" (hunt for John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators) was asked by his publisher to follow it up with another book. Some of the links between Lincoln's funeral procession and hunting for Jefferson Davis are weak...however, there is lots of fascinating material here.

This is the first time I've gotten an idea of how Jefferson Davis saw himself and his cause. After Lee surrendered, Davis thought he's be able to continue the war. It's hard to admit defeat.

David Bird
On the whole, I preferred this to Manhunt, Swanson's earlier work about the chase for John Wilkes Booth. This volume feels less padded and over-dramatized.

I was especially grateful that Swanson included a quote from Lincoln about the suffering of slaves as the epigraph on the chapter detailing Davis's imprisonment. As much as Davis was considered a martyr to the cause, at no point did he suffer from treatment that would have excited the least comment if applied to one of the slaves that he foug
I had some issues with this book. In some places it is rambling and overly detailed--to the point where I felt like skimming passages. There were editing discrepancies, too--for instance, on one page it says that Edwin Stanton, who was in charge of picking out the clothes that Lincoln would be buried in, selected a suit that "was new, so the president had not had the opportunity to wear it out." Yet just a few pages later, Lincoln's body is described being on display in his coffin "dressed in th ...more
Not something I'd normally read, but I find I am interested in the civil war. This is a book about Lincoln's train ride back to Springfield. I knew Lincoln went back home on a train, and that they stopped so people could view the body, but really had no idea the pageantry and expense that went into the whole thing. Call me stupid, but I never knew the confederate states had their own President, Jefferson Davis. The book makes a lot of comparisons between Davis and Lincoln. Davis, was better educ ...more
Damon Lively
Bloody Crimes was important for me to read – in lineage to the book “Manhunt” and to better understand the entire story around Lincoln’s death and burial. With that said – there isn’t a completely - compelling story. There again is some re-hashing of parts of the assassination and redundancy to “Manhunt” which was annoying. The story starts off fine – covering the Peterson house aspects of Lincoln’s death and really setting the background of Davis and his history (also sharing some information s ...more
The sequel to James Swanson's "Manhunt" follows the parallel paths of Abraham Lincoln's funeral and Jefferson Davis's escape after the fall of Richmond.

It's readable. But I would have preferred concentrating on the Davis story and its ties with the trials of John Wilkes Booth's assassination conspirators. Sometimes the Two Presidents, one who lives forever and one who is forgotten, storyline is a bit stretched.

Granted there are parallels. But you can kind of figure that whichever one came out on
I actually read BLOODY TIMES: THE FUNERAL OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE MANHUNT FOR JEFFERSON DAVIS, which is the "special adaptation for young people" published by Scholastic. I learned so many things! For one, I didn't know that the South had a president during the Civil War, Jefferson Davis. I felt so ignorant when I announced that fact to my husband while he was driving and I was reading. He, a history buff, couldn't believe I didn't know that. There were a lot of details about Lincoln's funera ...more
This was another good book by Swanson. Had the same feel and style of Manhunt and did a nice job setting the period. Good blend of story and I liked the back and forth between what was happening with Lincoln and Davis.

Fair amount of detail around Lincoln and I did read a lot of new information about the funeral and associated activities.

The Davis pursuit was another nugget in all of this. Good level of detail on a set of events not often covered in Civil War works.

I like Swanson, and while th
This book is different from what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a step by step detailed description of Jefferson Davis’s flight from Richmond. While it did cover that it spent much more time detailing the preparation for Lincoln’s burial and funeral and the journey of Lincoln’s body back to Springfield. It also touched briefly on the trials of Booth’s conspirators. The final chapters tell of Davis’s imprisonment and his post-Civil War life and his bodies final journey from Louisian ...more
I liked the book by the author concerning the chase of Booth a lot more.
University of Chicago Magazine
James Swanson, AB’81

From our pages (Nov–Dec/10): "In this sequel to his best seller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Lincoln’s Killer, Swanson retraces the final journeys of the two men who led America through the Civil War. In April 1865, as Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train made its way across the North, the defeated Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, fled and was later captured in the South. 'Their dual stories form an American epic, a kind of American Iliad,' writes the author, that in
"In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it... You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once."

Having spent a lifetime studying Lincoln - it is seldom that a book captures my imagination. This one did. It parallels the events following Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865 and Jefferson Davis' effort to elude capture until a late day in May, when he was capture.

The book does a great job of describing the national mourning that followed Lincoln's death. I dare say more of an out pouring that for any other president - perhaps with the exception of FDR. It took 20 days to get Lincoln bur
Jul 09, 2011 Joan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This book feels chopped down from the adult version. Unlike standard authors of YA nonfiction, I don't get any impression of respect for the YA audience. I was very surprised to find no internet sites listed in the back matter. He does a good job describing how all cities en route from Washington DC to Springfield tried to outdo each other in copious displays of mourning, giving numbers who viewed the casket, etc. However, when he gets the train to Springfield, he remarks Springfield knew they c ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies
  • Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington
  • "We are Lincoln Men": Abraham Lincoln and His Friends
  • My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy
  • Lincoln and His Admirals
  • The Day Lincoln Was Shot
  • "They Have Killed Papa Dead!": The Road to Ford's Theatre, Abraham Lincoln's Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance
  • Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon
  • Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • Assassin's Accomplice
  • Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America
  • Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America
  • The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family
  • Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers
  • The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
  • The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century
  • House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds: A Family Divided by War
  • Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President
James Swanson is the Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Swanson has degrees in history from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of John Hope Franklin, and in law from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He has held a number of government and think-tank posts in Washington, D.C., including at the United St
More about James L. Swanson...
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer Chasing Lincoln's Killer "The President Has Been Shot!": The Assassination of John F. Kennedy End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution

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