Stealing Lincoln’s Body

The book, Stealing Lincoln’s Body, written by Thomas J. Craughwell, reveals an historic crime involving the stealing of a deceased president. The book starts out in the 1600’s explaining how the United States develops its monetary system along with counterfeiting. Craughwell develops narrative style and develops the progression of counterfeiting and how the United States government reacted to these crimes This leads to the creation of the United States Secret Service and then goes on into the actual procedures of stealing Lincoln’s corpse and holding it for ransom.

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The books central theme is revolved around the classic case of cops versus robbers to retell a forgotten incident of the past. There is not a thesis, or a purpose. In the acknowledgement Craughwell simply stated that he wanted to retell the story his father told him as a boy however he wanted the historical accuracy of the story. Craughwell retells this forgotten story in detail within just 210 pages. The author is Thomas J. Craughwell, born in 1956, and still living today. The book was written in 2007, when he was at the age of 51 years old.

In the annotated bibliography it is shown that the author used a tremendous amount of sources. Providing ten pages of bibliography it seems he utilizes many primary sources however the majority consisted of secondary sources. From reading the style of the book and the bibliography, it was revealed that he was indeed bias. For example, the primary sources he used were based on a human aspect which through interviews can provide human bias. However Craughwell shows no personal bias in descriptions of the people in his book; he uses past police records and describes the characters based on these reports (173).

I find that the facts presented are correct because Thomas J. Craughwell clearly shows his amount of knowledge and the research of this incident along with his research team. Yes, his interpretations seem valid, and he even gave us direct wording of the people in his book from police reports and court records. He claims that he wanted to retell the story of this incident as it happen in the acknowledgements. The theme is supported by the evidences showing that there was indeed conflicts between the United States government and the criminals since he uses primary evidence of the people involve with the incident.

The author has indeed persuaded me about this classic theme of cops and robbers and he has also engage me in thinking about the significants of the past. By the presentation of his novel it makes me wonder of the reality of my own parents’ stories. The book is very understandable. The story are organized by a chronological order, which fits the book since it develops from the beginning of United States history. The subjects are organized in a like it would in a mystery novel which reveals the story in parts leading the reader engage.

All in all it was very easy read. The book is recommended for mainly civic war and Lincoln fans, since it was stated from the acknowledgements that he wrote the novel after his dad’s interest in Lincoln; however any this book may interest all readers, scholar, and even students. This book is great for a past time reading and is awesome for a history student who does not want to read another biography. Since it was written in a narrative style it presents history in a very peculiar way.

I would totally recommended this book to a future student taking this course because it was a very easy read and also presents the material in straight-forward way. The author is reliable because it was shown that he has extensive knowledge of this subject and has a tremendous amount of research to back it up. The research is definitely present throughout the entire book because not only does he provide exact dates of the occurrences, he also presents direct dialogue from each character of the book. Bibliography Craughwell, Thomas. Stealing Lincoln’s Body. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2008.


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