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

Bloody Crimes by James L. Swanson
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's review
Dec 17, 10

Read in December, 2010

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 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.
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