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True Crime in the Civil War: Cases of Murder, Treason, Counterfeiting, Massacre, Plunder, and Misuse of Power Paperback – Apr 2 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books (April 2 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081171019X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811710190
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #936,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Freelance writer Buhk has pulled many famous--and infamous--Civil War crimes into one excellent volume. . . . Easy to read with occasional humorous turns of phrase; highly recommended."--Karen Sandlin Silverman"Library Journal" (04/12/2012)

About the Author

Tobin T. Buhk is a freelance writer who lives in Jenison, Michigan, and is coauthor with Stephen D. Cohle of Skeletons in the Closet: Tales from the County Morgue (978-1-59102-603-7) and Cause of Death: Forensic Files of a Medical Examiner (978-1-59102-447-7).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Just When You Thought the Civil War Couldn't Get Any Bloodier! July 15 2012
By Mike O'Connor - Published on
Format: Paperback
Civil wars are traditionally some of the most savage conflicts fought on or off the battlefield. Tobin Buhk's TRUE CRIME IN THE CIVIL WAR offers up sixteen tales of murder most foul, deadly duels, massacres, arson, riots, banditry, and various other acts of "audacious, brutal, bodacious or bizarre" behavior during the Civil War years.

Many of the events and personalities that roam through the pages of Buhk's book will be familiar to Civil War buffs such as Benjamin 'the Beast' Butler, William Quantrill & the sacking of Lawrence, General Van Dorn's murder, Nathan Bedford Forrest & the Fort Pillow Massacre, the attempted burning of Manhattan, Andersonville's Commandant Henry Wirz, the Booth Conspirators, etc. Other stories such as Sam Upham's counterfeiting scheme, the Walker-Marmaduke duel and the slaughter of the Beckham family aren't as well known.

Buhk did a good job researching the various stories. Over the years many of the events in TRUE CRIME IN THE CIVIL WAR have acquired a layer of half-truths, myths and legends. Buhk uses many first-person reminiscences, documentation and a historian's objectivity to present a comprehensive, fair-minded account of each tale. Likewise, he includes a number of photographs, documents and illustrations that bring the often bloody events to life.

After reading TRUE CRIME IN THE CIVIL WAR, the reader will be in absolute agreement with Buhk's assertion that "Crime did not take a holiday during the Civil War." Recommended.
Good and entertaining read Sept. 16 2015
By Jenn - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good book for history buffs. Adequately researched, and including some off-the-beaten path stories as well as the more famous--and infamous--events, the book held my interest. A serious academic tome it is not, but there is a substantial Endnotes section as well as the bibliography for further reading.

Four stars for the Kindle version, because even though the content itself was just fine, the editing and formatting errors were a little too numerous to ignore, not the least of which was the irritating issue of photo captions appearing on the page following the photo/image.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
a good read, but with some issues Nov. 10 2012
By C. P. Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Civil War and true crime - two of my favorite topics. I'm surprised no one ever wrote a book like this before.

The book covers a number of stories that you are probably already familiar with - the Lincoln assassination, Andersonville, and the Lawrence KS massacre. There are also some that I, personally, had heard of but didn't know much about - Earl Van Dorn's murder, the Ft. Pillow massacre, and Benjamin Butler in New Orleans. There were also some great stories about some things I had never heard of - a Yankee counterfeit scheme, a Rebel plot to burn down Manhattan, and the (bogus) story of the female marauder Sue Mundy.

Unfortunately, there were also a couple of stories that were so obscure that I'm really not sure why they were included - a white family murdered in Tennessee by some freed blacks and a NC woman who shoots her former slave. I took some points off for these, as well as some typos and missing fact checks.

What I really didn't like about this one, though, was a real bias toward the South. I personally have no biases myself (I consider myself a Southerner), and really don't mind the average Civil War buff leaning to one side or the other, but I expect more from a book, and was really surprised how blatant some of this was (especially given the author's from Michigan).

For example, all of the well-known stories I mentioned above are given a pro-Rebel spin with the author seeing the trials as rushes to judgement at best and witch trials at worst. Here, for example, is what he says about the trial of Henry Wirtz, the Andersonville commandant:

"About a week after proceedings began, Wirtz's attorney had had enough of the circus trial."

He also wonders if Wirtz was a "murderer or a martyr." He takes a similar tack for some of the South's worst marauders. These include Champ Ferguson and even Bill Quantrill, with Buhk calling the latter a "bushwhacking cavalier."

I think the author was simply trying to drum up some controversy and drama to help sell the book. Unfortunately, that was totally unnecessary, as the true crime he presents is quite interesting in itself.
Error Sept. 5 2015
By Big Al - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So far this is an extremely interesting book. However, I have noticed an error in the chapter: The Lawrence Massacre and the Not-So-Civil War of Quantrill, Anderson, and the James Brothers 1863. It says the counties of Jackson, Cass, Bates, and Vernon are along the Mississippi River. This is impossible. Those counties are on Missouri's western border and the Mississippi is on the eastern border.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Civil War events June 17 2012
By Jetpack - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like to haunt the free eBook section in History, as Stackpole especially likes to put books up for free at times. So, I grabbed True Crime when I saw it.

It's 4,434 locations long, and the author does a nice job of relaying the events he has included. I have to agree that it's pretty darn hard to know for certain what happened 150 years ago, but he does his best.

Here is a list of the events/people covered:

Castle Thunder - a prison in Richmond
Sam Upham and counterfeiting
Benjamin Butler - probably still hated in New Orleans
Sack of Athens, GA
Feuding generals - one murder and one duel between generals
Detroit draft riot
Murder of the Beckham Family
Lawrence, KS massacre
Murder of Gen. Van Dorn
Fort Pillow Massacre
Plot to Burn Manhattan, NY
Sue Mundy - this one is especially interesting - an invented female bushwacker
Trial of the Lincoln Assassin conspirators
Champ Ferguson's rampage
Temperance Neely and the ex-slave she killed

This is a very well done book, and worth getting. I wonder if over $13, the price at the time of the review is too high, but that is clearly the decision of the readers. Definitely worth considering if you want more information on crimes during the Civil War.