Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard

Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard

A delectable true-crime story of scandal and murder at America’s most celebrated university.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 har...

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Title:Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard
Author:Paul Collins
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Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard Reviews

  • Paul

    Blood & Ivy is another smart true crime book from Paul Collins. A slew of new types of evidence for the time and this great subject matter (a case that inspired Dickens!) will engage his existing fans and should bring a legion of new readers.

    Many thanks to NetGalley, W. W. Norton & Company, and Mr. Collins for the advanced copy for review.

    Full review can be found here:

    Please check out all my reviews:

  • Thebooktrail

    A real life crime of the century brought to grisly exquisite life!

    Take your reading scalpel to this one and get dissecting!

  • Emily

    True crime is not my usual genre, in fact, I think Devil in the White City is the only other true crime book I’ve read. For fans of that book, I recommend you give Collins a try.

    Blood and Ivy has that interesting narrative style of a lot of modern history books like Devil in the White City. Collins has an extensive list of references—over 60 pages of notes and sources at the end of the book—and judging by his acknowledgments, it took him a lot of time to pull it all together into something read

    True crime is not my usual genre, in fact, I think Devil in the White City is the only other true crime book I’ve read. For fans of that book, I recommend you give Collins a try.

    Blood and Ivy has that interesting narrative style of a lot of modern history books like Devil in the White City. Collins has an extensive list of references—over 60 pages of notes and sources at the end of the book—and judging by his acknowledgments, it took him a lot of time to pull it all together into something readable.

    Besides the grisly details and unraveling of the murder, the history of Boston, Cambridge, and specifically Harvard around 1849 was interesting to me. I was surprised by how many famous authors were connected to this case, either because they were faculty at Harvard, they knew Webster, or simply because they were alive during the trial and its aftermath. The Epilogue notes that the case was inspiration for Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which I didn’t know.

    The legal precedents that came out of this case were fascinating too, particularly what became known as the “Webster charge,” based on the judge’s definition of reasonable doubt for the jury. It endured over 100 years after the trial, and Massachusetts didn’t decide to modernize it until 2015.

    The history is by turns sad, perplexing, and disturbing. Collins did a nice job incorporating historical detail into his linear narrative of the investigation and trial. It was truly worth the read, and I’m interested in checking out his other work.

  • Graeme Roberts

    An elegant, beautifully structured tale from real life. Fascinating characters, just the right amount of detail, and a crystal-clear evocation of life in the Boston of 1849. I could smell it.

    is a modern master.

  • Shirley (stampartiste)

    This was my first book by this author, but it won't be my last. Collins took a true crime story that I had never heard of and totally immersed me in the whodunit and the subsequent trial. The story was well researched and exceedingly well told. I was fascinated with the story from beginning to end. This book did not disappoint!

  • Steve

    A very interesting book. In 1849 Boston, a wealthy doctor by the name of George Parkman was last seen at Harvard Medical School. What makes this interesting, Is it became the first case where medical forensics was involved and the meaning of reasonable doubt. A great edge on your seat page-turner!!!!

  • Cindy H.

    Thank you to NetGalley and WW Norton Publishing for gifting me with an ARC of Blood & Ivy by Paul Collins. In exchange I offer my unbiased review.

    I absolutely loved this true crime account. Collins skillfully and artistically draws the reader into the mid 19th century and the exclusive halls of Harvard University. In 1849 Dr. George Parkman, a Harvard graduate and benefactor of the esteemed university left his home to run some errands and never returned. Foul play was quickly suspected and

    Thank you to NetGalley and WW Norton Publishing for gifting me with an ARC of Blood & Ivy by Paul Collins. In exchange I offer my unbiased review.

    I absolutely loved this true crime account. Collins skillfully and artistically draws the reader into the mid 19th century and the exclusive halls of Harvard University. In 1849 Dr. George Parkman, a Harvard graduate and benefactor of the esteemed university left his home to run some errands and never returned. Foul play was quickly suspected and within a week the culprit arrested. The book goes about describing the victim, the accused, the trial and the aftermath. I was riveted from page one and completely mesmerized by the startling conclusion.

    Paul Collins extensive research was evident as this nonfiction account read like fiction with all the astonishing details, newspaper headlines, letters and journals.Appearances from Harvard alumni, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow really added to the drama and mystery. Evocative and exhilarating this is a must read for all true crime fans and history buffs!

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Goodreads giveaway win

  • Kari

    For the most part I enjoyed this one. It was kind of cool to read about Cambridge and Boston in the late 1840s. The author did a great job of setting the tone for the true crime story about the murder of a prominent Harvard professor. It was the first case in the US to use dental evidence as well as making a case for reasonable doubt. Worth a read, however it is a little slow.

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