I recently devoured Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis by James L. Swanson. It was one of those books I couldn't put down and read in just one day.
The book is a special adaptation for young readers of Swanson's adult book, Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse. (which I definitely want to get my hands on) The book covers in fascinating detail, the events that took place as the Civil War drew to a close, with the focus on two men in particular--Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Swanson, who is an avid follower of the life and times of Lincoln, recounts the assassination of Lincoln, and his amazing funeral procession--one no young adult has anything to compare to today (perhaps, the closest being the funeral of Michael Jackson?). At the same time he does that, Swanson also weaves together nicely, how Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, fleed Richmond, and continued to believe the Confederate States could still fight. As the nation was convinced Davis was involved in the conspiracy that led to Lincoln's murder, Davis traveled further South, setting off a manhunt for the Confederate president.
I loved how the stories of both men were weaved together, giving one the sense of what was going on during a time without the mass media we have today. You don't hear much about Jefferson Davis these days, which is why it was fascinating to read about him. As Swanson says, "He lost, and history tends to reward winners, not losers. But there must be more to it than that." With historic photos scattered throughout, any young history buff will surely devour the factual information that's aplenty in this riveting read.