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

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  2,045 ratings  ·  316 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...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by William Morrow (first published 2010)
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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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
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
Kenn Staub
A well-written, easily readable micro-history that explores both the funeral train which carried Lincoln from Washington to Springfield following his assassination, as well as Jefferson Davis's flight from Richmond as he attempted to elude capture and maintain the Confederate government. The parts of the former story which interested me were mainly about the preparation for Lincoln's funeral in Washington DC, preservation of his corpse, and the tale surrounding the only known picture of him lyin...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...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...more
"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...more
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
Lynn Green
The book provided fascinating information on how both Lincoln and Jeff Davis went from human beings to the central characters in different mythologies.

Lincoln's myth began mere hours after his assasination as hundreds of people clamored to be present at his death bed. The myth increased exponentially as a result of the national mourning that took place in Washington and on the 10 city tour made by his remains and coffin.

Davis' journey took place over the long life he lived after his capture and...more
This is not in the same catagory as Team of Rivals nor My Thoughts Be Bloody. I have also read Manhunt. All better than this one. The concept of paralling the last days of Lincoln and his funeral train with Davis run from Richmond as the US troops took over that city was unique. I was looking forward to reading it. The author made Davis appear as a saint and hero. This is the same Jefferson Davis that owned slaves, believed in a cast system thinking he and his kind were better than others, was a...more
This book was a disappointment. I had read and enjoyed Swanson's previous best-seller "Manhunt" which was a dramatic retelling of John Wilkes Booth's flight after his assassination of Lincoln. This follow-up book is also about a flight, that of Jefferson Davis fleeing capture after the fall of Richmond. While "Manhunt" was well-researched and tightly organized on the single topic of the hunt for Lincoln's killer, in this new book Swanson complicates the narrative structure by telling two stories...more
I haven't finished Bloody Times yet but it is a descent book. Bloody Times was written by James Swanson and its the first book I've ever read by him. It is the first non-fiction book that I have read this year. The book takes place in the 1860s just like the last book I read Which Way Freedom. The book tells about the events that Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis went through during the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, real people, were talked about in the book. Abraham Lincol...more
Beginning with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Bloody Crimes tells the parallel stories of Lincoln’s final journey home and Davis’s flight and ultimate capture.
Swanson details the events immediately following the shooting of Lincoln, including the chaos at the Peterson house where Lincoln’s body was taken immediately following the attack. From the hysterical and inconsolable Mary Lincoln to the doctors and government officials who came and went throughout the evening, the Peterson house b...more
A.M. Dellamonica
Bloody Crimes tells the story of the final days of two presidencies: the abrupt death and long funeral of Abraham Lincoln of the USA, and the flight from Richmond of Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States of America.

This is a pop history of a certain type: it takes the train journey of Lincoln's coffin as it wound through the eastern us to Springfield Illinois and highlights the similarities and differences with Davis's stop and start journey southward as the Confederacy failed around him.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies
  • "They Have Killed Papa Dead!": The Road to Ford's Theatre, Abraham Lincoln's Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance
  • My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy
  • Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America
  • The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family
  • American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
  • Abraham Lincoln: A Life
  • Assassin's Accomplice
  • The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century
  • Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America
  • On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery
  • The Day Lincoln Was Shot
  • Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography
  • Stealing Lincoln's Body
  • Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War
  • A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War
  • Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution
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
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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