LINCOLN'S GRAVE ROBBERS

On election eve in 1876, the Chicago Tribune was dominated by election coverage, except for a curious story on page 5 about body snatchers attempting to rob the grave of Abraham Lincoln.

The headline read, “Dastardly Attempt to Despoil the Lincoln Monument: Thieves Trying to Steal the Bones of the Martyr President.” The body snatchers had narrowly escaped—without the body—but certain evidence had been found: two sets of footprints, a bull’s-eye lantern and grass pressed flat where men had been lying nearby. Sheinkin takes a little-known sidebar of American history and lures readers in with the sheer weirdness of his tale and a new lexicon of coneys, ropers, shovers, bone orchards and ghouls. The robbery was no random act, but one related to the world of 19th-century counterfeiting, so readers are introduced to the history of counterfeiting. This history and other topics provide context but slow the narrative—the grisly autopsy on the body of the fallen president, the design of the Lincoln Monument in Springfield, Ill., and the early days of the United States Secret Service. There’s even a “Body Snatcher Bonus Section.” The finished edition will include photographs, source notes and an index, not seen here. A good, ghoulish read despite slow spots. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-14)    

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-40572-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

Categories:

GIVE ME LIBERTY!

THE STORY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

Categories:

MUMMIES OF THE PHARAOHS

EXPLORING THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS

An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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