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

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,714 Ratings  ·  372 Reviews
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 momentous20-day funeral that took Abraham Lincoln’s body home to Springfield. A true tale full of ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by William Morrow (first published 2010)
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Amy No. This is not a sequel. The books can be read independently of each other.
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Gary Land
Dec 17, 2010 Gary Land rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2011 Strawfoot rated it it was ok
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
Paul Pessolano
Feb 02, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
"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 really liked it
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
Dec 21, 2010 Barb rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
Josh Reisner
The book "Bloody Times" by James L.Swanson is a good read, worthy of 3/5 stars. This book is about the story of Abraham Lincoln's death, and what happened before, after, and at the time. The book highlights background areas of the situation such as how and why Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, and areas about Jefferson Davis, hiding during his search. (similar to the book "The President Has Been Shot", reflecting the assassination of president Kennedy.)
I liked this book because I fe
Mar 28, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
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
Oct 11, 2011 Brenda Clough rated it really liked it
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
Oct 05, 2011 Rob rated it did not like it
Shelves: wasted-time
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 ...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
Jul 28, 2013 Simon rated it liked it
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
Jacob Chapman
Apr 04, 2016 Jacob Chapman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this book was solid it had a lot of cool and intresting facts i enjoyed reading this book.
Apr 11, 2016 SamT added it
This book follows the paths of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy and Abraham Lincoln from the final days of the Civil War until the burial of Lincoln and the capture of Davis.
Great detail is given to the arrangements of Lincoln's funeral and the special train that carried the corpses of both Lincoln and his young son, Willie, halfway across America to their final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.
The author shows Davis as an honorable man, not the thief and villian many in the n
Jonathan Willis
Jan 06, 2016 Jonathan Willis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summary: With the capture of Richmond Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, and the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army, the war was truly lost for the south. It was time for the last remaining government officials and the president himself, Jefferson Davis to flee down into the south in a desperate attempt to escape capture. Before the manhunt for Davis could even begin Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who would later be shot and killed in a barn. With Booth killed and ...more
Jim Gallen
Jan 17, 2015 Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing
“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
Jan 07, 2015 bbalon23 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 18, 2014 OWEN_THE_LEGEND rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 02, 2014 Stephanie Pounds rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
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
Aug 01, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
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
Feb 21, 2014 David Bird rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-extremis
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
Kristi Thielen
Jan 16, 2016 Kristi Thielen rated it really liked it
Swanson’s book makes for an absorbing read. But it was published in 2010 and attitudes toward prominent figures in his narrative have evolved in unexpected ways since that time. That invariably colors perceptions of this work.

Swanson is unsympathetic and dismissive of Mary Todd Lincoln: her portrayal by Sally Field in the 2012 award-winning film, “Lincoln,” made Americans rethink this complex First Lady, so the author’s views of her seem churlish.

Swanson asks the reader to examine Jefferson Da
Apr 19, 2014 Janellyn51 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2014 Damon Lively rated it it was ok
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
Dec 23, 2014 Art rated it liked it
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
Jan 19, 2016 Jeff rated it it was ok
Having read several biographies of Lincoln and Swanson's earlier book Manhunt, which I enjoyed, I was happy to pick up Swanson's last book and see what new information would be learned. Having said that I have to say that the author has perhaps hit the end of his Lincoln work.

Dividing the book between two topics, Lincoln's death pageant and the attempt by Jefferson Davis to flea Union forces after Richmond fell.

For me the story of the Lincoln funeral train was only so appealing. While it was c
Jul 16, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it
Juxtaposed with the removal of the Confederate flag from outside the state house in SC, this book was as timely as today's news. Fascinating to read the details of Lincoln's death and the seldom mentioned lengthy, elaborate mourning train that took the late president's corpse 1,600 miles through numerous memorials and viewings back home to Springfield. The author blends these events with the retreat of Jefferson Davis from Richmond, his efforts to keep the Confederacy going despite the advice of ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
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  • "We are Lincoln Men": Abraham Lincoln and His Friends
  • Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington
  • American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies
  • My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy
  • "They Have Killed Papa Dead!": The Road to Ford's Theatre, Abraham Lincoln's Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance
  • Lincoln and His Admirals
  • Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution
  • Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers
  • Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon
  • The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family
  • The Day Lincoln Was Shot
  • On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery
  • Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln
  • Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America
  • Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President
  • Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America
  • House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds: A Family Divided by War
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...

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