Blood & Ivy

Blood & Ivy

The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard

Book - 2019
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"On November 23rd of 1849, in the heart of Boston, one of the city's richest men simply vanished. Dr. George Parkman, a Brahmin who owned much of Boston's West End, was last seen that afternoon visiting his alma mater, Harvard Medical School. Police scoured city tenements and the harbor, and offered hefty rewards as leads put the elusive Dr. Parkman at sea or hiding in Manhattan. But one Harvard janitor held a much darker suspicion: that their ruthless benefactor had never even left the Medical School building alive. His shocking discoveries in a chemistry professor's laboratory engulfed America in one of its most infamous trials: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. John White Webster. A baffling case of red herrings, grave robbery, and dismemberment--of Harvard's greatest doctors investigating one of their own, for a murder hidden in a building full of cadavers--it became a landmark case in the use of medical forensics and the meaning of reasonable doubt. Paul Collins brings nineteenth-century Boston back to life in vivid detail, weaving together newspaper accounts, letters, journals, court transcripts, and memoirs from this groundbreaking case. Rich in characters and evocative in atmosphere, Blood & Ivy explores the fatal entanglement of new science and old money in one of America's greatest murder mysteries."--Jacket.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. :, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,, 2019
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780393357325
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 C712
Characteristics: xix, 347 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: Blood and ivy


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Aug 10, 2019

I always enjoy Paul Collins books and Blood & Ivy lives up to my expectations. His ability to recreate the tempo and atmosphere of 1849 Boston based on meticulous research of contemporary records is riveting and makes for an easy, yet very informative account of the murder trial of Professor Webster. That this trial was also a landmark case for the acceptance of forensic science in jurisprudence seems only fitting, based on the location of the murder and the individuals involved. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys popular non-fiction and to anyone that enjoys intriguing mysteries.

Nov 11, 2018

I was completely unfamiliar with the events narrated in this book and I confess that I borrowed it because the title intrigued me. Well, I am not really going to describe the events in many details, because I don't want to spoil the story for those who - like me - don't know it. Let's just say that it's about a famous murder case and the social, economic and political environment in which it happened (Boston, Cambridge and Harvard, around 1850). What the different newspapers and protagonists had to say reveals a lot about themselves, of course, and the culture of the time. I found it fascinating also that Dickens was inspired by the events described in the book to write The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It is a modern book not only for the definition of "reasonable doubt" given here, but also for the controversy about the death penalty.


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