Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse by James L. Swanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 imprisonment following the surrender of Lee's and Johnston's armies. He became a living symbol, indeed the inventor of, "The Lost Cause", the belief that even though the South had been defeated, it had been right in succeeding from the North, a belief that persists in various forms to this day.
Swanson conveys the moods, the emotions, the attitudes Americans had and have had about both men. He is at his best when he discusses why Lincoln and Davis's lives and deaths meant more to the people of their day than simply them as individuals. People invested in these two leaders all the griefs, sorrows, anguish, pride, and patriotism they had felt about their part in the Civil War. At times, though, he gets a bit repetitious as he fears we won't completely understand the importance of his subject. Still, this is a highly recommended book for Civil War buffs and also those who need to understand how the Civil War affect us even now.
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