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Stealing Lincoln's Body Hardcover – May 15, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps the most important fact that you will come across in "Stealing Lincoln's Body" is that in 1876 nearly half of the money in circulation was counterfeit. I found this to be absolutely incredible! This was a serious problem that was wreaking havoc with the nation's economy as we attempted to bounce back from the Civil War. One of the most accomplished counterfeiters of that era was a man named Benjamin Boyd who hailed from Cincinnati, OH which at that time was recognized as the counterfeit capitol of the nation. It was his arrest and incarceration in October, 1875 that would eventually lead to the plot to steal the body of President Lincoln.
"Stealing Lincoln's Body" reveals the intimate details of how the plot to steal the President's body and hold it for ransom was hatched. You will be introduced to Elmer Washburn, chief of the Secret Service and to detective Patrick Tyrrell who were both instrumental in foiling the plot to steal Lincoln's body.Read more ›
I recall from when I was young my reading a Life magazine article (1963) on the last man alive who saw Abraham Lincoln's face. It struck me then as highly interesting, and I am glad to have now read Mr. Craughwell's book--the tale remains odd, slightly macabre, but a significant one for those who enjoy American history.
(I rate as excellent the book's clean but evocative jacket as designed by Annamarie Why.)
If you enjoyed books like "The Devil in the White City" and "The Shakespeare Riots," you won't want to miss this little gem. On one level, it's about a gang of criminal misfits who tried to steal Abraham Lincoln's body from his tomb in Springfield, Illinois, in order to set free an imprisoned comrade.
On a higher level, it's about the vast criminal underworld that circulated around America during the mid- to late-19th century. We're talking counterfeiters, murderers, con men, thieves, roughnecks, prostitutes and grave robbers. In some areas, like the immigrant neighborhoods of west Chicago, the boundary line between "respectable citizen" and conniving rogue was often non-existent. Tavern owners frequently collaborated with felons when they weren't collaborating with the cops or corrupt local politicians. You've heard of "The Wild West." This book could be subtitled "The Wild Midwest."
Along the way, we learn fascinating details about 19th century burial practices, the birth of the Secret Service and rapid advances in counterfeiting technology, not to mention the grizzly details of grave robbing for profit. If you have the patience to get through Craughwell's long "set up" (about 90 pages), the payoff is definitely worth it as the story progresses from the marbled halls of Washington to the dank hovels of working-class life in 1870s Illinois.
No, Craughwell isn't the greatest popular historian on Earth and he does sometimes stumble, but for the most part this is one incredibly fun read and it certainly would make a fantastic movie. I nominate Jack Nicholson for the lead role. Enjoy!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some people say this book really gets off track with the subject of "Stealing Lincoln's Body." This is true to a point, but I feel it's also an important part of the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Darrell E. Baty
Surprising facts that few people know about how many times Lincoln's body was moved after his death and how close grave-robbers came to stealing his body after his burial. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
excellent read , a little hard to follow at times but still a good read.Published 21 months ago by jimele
An intriguing and well-told account of an interesting and little-known bit of history. Though the main story's absorbing enough, I like a writer who's not afraid to go off-road and... Read morePublished 23 months ago by J. R. Sanders
Thoams Craughwell has done his homework around the assassination of our beloved President. Fascinating read with the moment by moment details at Lincoln's tomb. Read morePublished on June 9, 2014 by Tom Harvey
If you're a fan of Abraham Lincoln, and thought you knew his life and times well, this book will supply information that is rarely mentioned. Read morePublished on April 28, 2014 by SirGeorge
Read this book is two sittings, a day apart, and found it fascinating, captivating, and at times; unbelievable. That a gang of weirdos would even THINK of ransoming Mr. Read morePublished on March 30, 2014 by Ralph DeMattia