- Series: True Crime History
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Kent State Univ Pr; 1 edition (September 1, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1606353047
- ISBN-13: 978-1606353042
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee (True Crime History) 1st Edition
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“An Edgar-worthy true crime masterpiece of astonishing investigative skill and irresistible narrative flow. I know the term "must read" is overused, but I'm going to use it again -- Ann Marie Ackermann's new book is a must read!”(Burl Barer, NYT-best-selling author of Murder in the Family and Man Overboard)
“A page-turner of historical scholarship, Death of an Assassin takes a little known German cold case murder from 1835 and turns it into an intriguing mystery. Using a style reminiscent of Case Closed, author Ann Marie Ackermann puts you in Bonnigheim when the assassin pulls the trigger and later Mexico, where the fleeing assassin engulfs Robert E. Lee in tragedy, long before Lee ever heard the canon near Appomattox Court House.” (Fred Rosen, author of Murdering the President: Alexander Graham Bell and the Race to Save James Garfield)
“Death of an Assassin is not only a startling historical discovery but a poignant tale of heroism and redemption. With a marvelous eye for detail, Ann Marie Ackermann has navigated through long-forgotten records on both sides of the Atlantic to unearth a new and complex kind of hero -- a brutish, vengeful man who, perhaps out of remorse, was anxious to start a new life and redeem himself in his adopted home. It's a great story, bolstered by solid research and told by one who is uniquely qualified to bring it to the public.” (Michael W. Kauffman, author of American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies)
“Ann Marie Ackermann has marvelously weaved a story of diverse themes into a single fabric of historical research and investigation. Written in a conversational style and drawing the reader into the web of mystery produces a story of high interest and adventure.” (Anthony Waskie, assistant professor, Temple University, author of Philadelphia and the Civil War)
In her excellent work, Death of an Assassin, Ann Marie Ackermann has penned a fascinating account of a long-ago murder; a murder that should have remained tucked away somewhere in the dark archived files of history, never again to see the light of day. Thankfully for us, however, the author has not only rescued this strange tale from obscurity, but has brought to light a story that begins with the murder in Germany, and ends up in the pre-Civil War America of Robert E. Lee, where the killer begins an eventful new life. With a sharp eye for detail, Ackermann painstakingly reconstructs the lives of the participants from long-hidden facts, and then, having breathed life back into them, paints a vivid literary picture throughout the pages of her riveting book. It’s a tale that will pull you in from the very first page. (Kevin M. Sullivan, author of The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History and Custers Road to Disaster: The Path to Little Bighorn)
“Death of an Assassin by Ann Marie Ackermann is a well plotted and researched book of crime, war, and intrigue. The pages are filled with historical facts as well as reenactments of events as they are thought to have occurred. The solving of one of the oldest cold cases in history and the link to the USA’s past is fascinating.” (The Cozy Review)
“Death of an Assassin recounts one of the most curious tales in history: a murder committed in Germany but solved in America years later.” (Glenn Dallas, San Francisco Book Review)
“Death of Assassin is an entertaining look at very human characters in a world on the edge of radical change.” (Robert Davis, New York Journal of Books)
"An engaging piece of history." (Tim Gebhart, Progressive on the Prairie)
“Death of an Assassin is a great, fun read, spinning intrigue with historical facts. Ackermann is an excellent writer, who knows how to spin a good tale, and this resulting monograph is the proof.” (Ryan Quint, Emerging Civil War)
About the Author
Ann Marie Ackermann is a former attorney with focuses on criminal and medical law. Eighteen years ago she moved to Bönnigheim, Germany, the town in which the assassination occurred, and is a member of its historical society. Ackermann s intimate knowledge of the town and of the German language enabled her to bring the German and American sides of this story together. She has a number of academic publications in law, ornithology, and history.
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How did the murderer of a mayor in Germany come to be part of a group of men commanded to protect Robert E. Lee at the Seige of Veracruz in the Mexican American War?
Ackermann’s methodical and interesting scene description pulls the reader into the crime -- from the act of murder in the town of Bӧnnigheim to the death of the assassin, himself. She painstakingly shares the investigative process available in 1835 which the investigative magistrate, Eduard Hammer, uses to try to find the assassin. Each event is footnoted with a supporting fact document Ackermann uses to pull her telling into a cohesive and complete one. Many old photos are included in the book, providing additional understanding of the circumstances.
Her compelling style of writing, along with the steady, coherently described stream of events make the read move quickly. Her chapter transitions primed me for the next chapter. She seemed to anticipate my questions, for she answered every single one.
I hadn’t expected to have the record of events so well-preserved. Investigator Hammer pursued the crime ruthlessly, even using a new means, which history records discovered some 50 years later, to figure out what type of gun had been used by the assassin, hoping this would give him a lead. I found it interesting in those days, if the case had not been solved in a two-week time, the crime isn’t usually solved.
I really liked the fact this particular work had a wider focus of historical events more than the assassination of a mayor in Wurttemberg in 1835 and then the assassin’s own death in defending Robert E. Lee. Frankly, Ackermann well describes the existing events and coincidences (or were they?) in bringing us to the final questions. Did he actually die a hero? Is it possible people can change that much?
Robert E. Lee’s life was most interesting to me since the recent statue removals in the southern U.S., his being one of them. I found out he was very important to the U.S. working and managing a very successful project through the Corps of Engineers to reopen the Mississippi River as the silt was narrowing the channel and steamers could no longer travel the river. He was also very instrumental in the Mexican-American War, his first opportunity to experience combat. Is it possible we look at history with too narrow a vision?
The story is a testament to how important NOT having the means for education is. It is a factor in the development of good citizens. It also plainly exposes how one’s reputation (however one comes by it) can damage a man’s chances for success. The assassin and Robert E. Lee weren’t much different in their need for career growth. The means of getting there are vastly different.
A very worthwhile read and one every history buff would enjoy.
The year is 1835. In the Kingdom of Württemberg, in the small town of Bönnigheim, a murder has just been committed. The town’s beloved mayor has been gunned down in cold blood- a senseless crime with no apparent motive- and the elusive murderer manages to slip away, seemingly without trace. Despite the best efforts of a remarkably ingenious investigator, the case would remain unsolved for decades.
On the other side of the Atlantic, a storm is brewing between the Mexican government and American settlers, eventually erupting into the Texas Revolution. As America is drawn into war with Mexico, troops are amassed to besiege Veracruz in what would become the first large-scale amphibious assault conducted by United States military forces, and the largest in history until D-Day. In writing of the battle, Robert E Lee makes a curiously poignant entry in his journal regarding the heroic death of a German-American soldier, remarking “I doubt whether all Mexico is worth to us the life of that man”. Little could he have known that the man to whom he ascribed such praise was actually an assassin.
Death Of An Assassin documents the astonishing story of a German cold case mystery that took 37 years -and a fresh piece of evidence from America- to solve. In the book, Ackermann interleaves both the fascinating histories of Robert E. Lee and the rather unsung German-American soldiers who fought in the Battle of Veracruz during the Mexican-American war, as well as the thrilling race-against-the-clock investigation conducted by a little-known German magistrate who utilized investigative methods, including forensic ballistics, which were surprisingly ahead of his time. Full of twists, turns, and striking insight into this tumultuous time in history, this is a gripping read that you will absolutely not want to put down!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Americans pride themselves on living in the land of second chances. Immigrants can come to the U.S. and escape all kinds of adverse conditions. Can a new American atone for a murder? Ann Marie Ackermann's book tells the story of of a 19th-century German emigre, a murderer who fled for America. At first settling into a sedate profession (a baker), he later enlisted in an all-German unit of Pennsylvania volunteers. Serving in the Mexican-American War, he exhibited heroism under fire.
This immigrant was killed at the Battle of Veracruz. His bravery impressed a regular Army officer, Robert E. Lee. The future Confederate Army commander wrote to his son, praising the volunteer for his bravery. Lee did not know the name of the volunteer. Ackermann makes the choice (to be respected here) of not giving us his name for several pages, thus increasing the sense of mystery of this unique work of history.
This book ties together a historical mystery and what was then cutting-edge methods of criminal detection. The local magistrate investigating the murder in the 1830s, develops the technique of forensic ballistics (generally thought to have been invented in the 1880s) to eliminate a gun as the weapon used. Not settling for being only CSI: 1830s, the book also looks at German immigration to America (prospective emigres had to get permission to leave Germany first, which the subject of this book avoided doing) and the immigrant composition of the 19th-century U.S. Army. We are given a complete view of the places of times that influenced the murderer-turned-hero.
Death of an Assassin is a volume in Kent State University Press's True Crime History series. The book tells a fascinating history story well, which makes it more than just another true crime book. Most importantly, it is effective in detailing just how American immigrants could make new lives in this country.