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The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

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Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar awardwinning author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, uncovers the riveting true story of the Baltimore Plot, an audacious conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a clear and fully-matured threat of assassination as he travele Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar awardwinning author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, uncovers the riveting true story of the Baltimore Plot, an audacious conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a clear and fully-matured threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of thirteen days the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart the plot, assisted by a captivating young widow named Kate Warne, Americas first female private eye.As Lincolns train rolled inexorably toward the seat of danger, Pinkerton struggled to unravel the ever-changing details of the murder plot, even as he contended with the intractability of Lincoln and his advisors, who refused to believe that the danger was real. With time running out Pinkerton took a desperate gamble, staking Lincolns lifeand the future of the nationon a perilous feint that seemed to offer the only chance that Lincoln would survive to become president. Shrouded in secrecyand, later, mired in controversythe story of the Baltimore Plot is one of the great untold tales of the Civil War era, and Stashower has crafted this spellbinding historical narrative with the pace and urgency of a race-against-the-clock thriller.


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Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar awardwinning author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, uncovers the riveting true story of the Baltimore Plot, an audacious conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a clear and fully-matured threat of assassination as he travele Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar awardwinning author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, uncovers the riveting true story of the Baltimore Plot, an audacious conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a clear and fully-matured threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of thirteen days the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart the plot, assisted by a captivating young widow named Kate Warne, Americas first female private eye.As Lincolns train rolled inexorably toward the seat of danger, Pinkerton struggled to unravel the ever-changing details of the murder plot, even as he contended with the intractability of Lincoln and his advisors, who refused to believe that the danger was real. With time running out Pinkerton took a desperate gamble, staking Lincolns lifeand the future of the nationon a perilous feint that seemed to offer the only chance that Lincoln would survive to become president. Shrouded in secrecyand, later, mired in controversythe story of the Baltimore Plot is one of the great untold tales of the Civil War era, and Stashower has crafted this spellbinding historical narrative with the pace and urgency of a race-against-the-clock thriller.

30 review for The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a wonderful book about the detective Allan Pinkerton, and how he uncovered and foiled a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before he became president. Pinkerton grew up in Scotland, where he developed strong feelings for social reformation. He immigrated to the United States, where he lucked into solving a counterfeiting ring. Soon he found his way into the business of running a private detective agency. Pinkerton had strong feelings against slavery. As an abolitionist, he raised money This is a wonderful book about the detective Allan Pinkerton, and how he uncovered and foiled a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before he became president. Pinkerton grew up in Scotland, where he developed strong feelings for social reformation. He immigrated to the United States, where he lucked into solving a counterfeiting ring. Soon he found his way into the business of running a private detective agency. Pinkerton had strong feelings against slavery. As an abolitionist, he raised money for John Brown. Pinkerton even ran a station in the underground railway prior to the Civil War. So it is seems that Pinkerton had a strong affinity for Abraham Lincoln. But that is not exactly how he got involved with Lincoln. Pinkerton was hired to protect the railroad that was transporting Lincoln to his inauguration in Washington DC. Pinkerton hired men and women to fill important roles in his agency. He was flabbergasted that women wanted to work for him; but he took a chance, and it paid off well. I won't add any spoilers here. Let me just say that even though this is a history book, it reads like a detective novel. Some parts of it were thrilling, while occasionally it lost some momentum. I listened to this book as an audiobook, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. His voice is a perfect match for the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Les Gehman

    The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower is one of the finest historical true crime books I've ever read. Since everyone knows that Lincoln in fact made it to his inauguration alive, Stashower faced a difficult job in building suspense throughout the book. Stashower has risen to this challenge and produced a book that builds in suspense as Alan Pinkerton races to uncover and neutralize a conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln as his inauguration tr The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower is one of the finest historical true crime books I've ever read. Since everyone knows that Lincoln in fact made it to his inauguration alive, Stashower faced a difficult job in building suspense throughout the book. Stashower has risen to this challenge and produced a book that builds in suspense as Alan Pinkerton races to uncover and neutralize a conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln as his inauguration train passes through Baltimore. The Hour of Peril describes not only Pinkerton's race against time, but does an excellent job of describing the environment of the United States on the very brink of civil war. This is an outstanding book which anyone with any interest in Lincoln and the civil war will enjoy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    The President and the detective... Abraham Lincoln has won the Presidential election and now, in early 1861, is about to undertake the journey from his home in Springfield, Illinois, to Washington for his inauguration. But these are troubled times, and the journey is complicated because of all of the different railroad companies that own parts of the route. One of the company owners hears of a plot to destroy his railroad to prevent Lincoln making it to Washington, and so he calls in the alr The President and the detective... Abraham Lincoln has won the Presidential election and now, in early 1861, is about to undertake the journey from his home in Springfield, Illinois, to Washington for his inauguration. But these are troubled times, and the journey is complicated because of all of the different railroad companies that own parts of the route. One of the company owners hears of a plot to destroy his railroad to prevent Lincoln making it to Washington, and so he calls in the already famous private detective, Allan Pinkerton. But when Pinkerton starts to investigate, he becomes convinced that there is a deeper plot in the planning – to assassinate Lincoln before he is inaugurated. This book tells the story of Lincoln’s journey, the plot against him, and Pinkerton’s attempt to ensure his safe arrival in Washington. It’s written very much in the style of a true crime book, although it has aspects that fall as much into the category of history. Stashower focuses on three main aspects: a biographical look at Pinkerton and the development of his detective agency; the rising tensions in the still-new nation that would soon break out into full scale civil war; and Lincoln’s journey, and the plot against him. The first section is mostly about Pinkerton, a man who started out as a political activist in his native Glasgow in Scotland until, perhaps to escape the authorities there, he emigrated to America with his young wife. I grew up knowing tales of the great American detective Pinkerton and his agents, but hadn’t realised he was born and lived only three or so miles away from where I spent my childhood years, so that was an added point of interest for me; plus the authenticity shown in the little time that the book spends on Scotland and the political situation there (about which I know a fair amount) convinced me of the author’s historical reliability. Once the story moves to America, Stashower shows us how this journeyman cooper gradually became a detective for hire, and then grew a business of many agents able to work undercover in all levels of society. Stashower discusses Pinkerton’s methods, his policy that “the ends justify the means”, and the clients who called on him to prevent crimes if he could, or else bring the criminals to justice after the event. Pinkerton was also ahead of his time in recognising the value of women detectives, though it was actually a woman, Kate Warne, who convinced him of this when she persuaded him to hire her. She went on to become one of his most trusted agents, and played a major role in the events covered by the book, all of which Stashower recounts most interestingly. If any biographers are out there looking for a subject, I’d love to read a full bio of her life! The focus then switches between Lincoln and Pinkerton, the one preparing for his journey, the other setting up his agents to infiltrate the pro-Secessionists in Baltimore, where the threat to Lincoln seemed to be greatest. The political background is woven into these two stories, with Stashower assuming some prior knowledge of the events leading up to the civil war on the part of his readers, but ensuring that he gives enough so that people, like me, whose understanding of that period is superficial and even sketchy don’t get left behind. Stashower tells us of the various people surrounding Lincoln, and their differing opinions on how he should meet the threat. Given that he had won the election on a minority of the vote, it was felt to be important that he should let people see and hear him, trying to win them over before he took office. This meant that the train journey became serpentine, looping and doubling back so that he could visit as many places as possible. To make matters worse from a security point of view, his advisors and he thought it was necessary to put out an itinerary in advance, so that the people, and unfortunately therefore the plotters, would know when and where they could get close to him. To get to Washington, he would have to go through Baltimore – a state then known as Mobtown and one that was considered likely to go over to the Confederacy side in the event of war. Despite the fact that we all know that Lincoln survived for a few more years, Stashower manages to build a real atmosphere of tension – we may know the outcome, but I certainly didn’t know how or even if he would make it through Baltimore safely. Meantime, Pinkerton and his agents take us undercover deep into the conspiracy to stop Lincoln, showing how for many of those involved it was really a talking game, but for a few fanatics, it was a real plot. Pinkerton’s task was a double one – to trap the plotters while also managing Lincoln’s safe transit through this dangerous city. I’ll say no more, so that I won’t spoil the tension for anyone who, like me, doesn’t know this story. But towards the end I found it as tense as a thriller and raced through the last chapters with a need to know how it all worked out. Finally, Stashower gives a short summary of what happened afterwards to the various people involved – the people who travelled with Lincoln, Pinkerton and his agents, and some of the plotters. He also shows how conflicting versions of the story make getting at the facts difficult – Pinkerton and some of Lincoln’s people didn’t see eye to eye either at the time or afterwards, and each side perhaps embellished the facts to suit their own purposes. Nothing really changes, eh? Except maybe it’s a bit easier to travel from Illinois to Washington now. A thoroughly enjoyable book – well written, interesting and informative, giving a lot of insight into this troubled period just before the Civil War. Highly recommended! www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    Wow. I am not even sure how to go about reviewing this book - THERE. IS. SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. here. And all of it is interesting and gripping and just WOW. And to learn about Kate Warne, who became the first female detective and how she was instrumental in saving President-Elect Lincoln's life is just as fascinating as Pinkerton and the whole plot itself. Unfortunately for me, all the books written about her do not have audiobooks so all of my want of knowledge of her and her life will go unh Wow. I am not even sure how to go about reviewing this book - THERE. IS. SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. here. And all of it is interesting and gripping and just WOW. And to learn about Kate Warne, who became the first female detective and how she was instrumental in saving President-Elect Lincoln's life is just as fascinating as Pinkerton and the whole plot itself. Unfortunately for me, all the books written about her do not have audiobooks so all of my want of knowledge of her and her life will go unheeded. Sigh. This was a great read and for anyone who loves Lincoln, history and detective work, will love this book. It is just so fascinating and I loved it all.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    The Hour of Peril is a well -researched, continuously documented account of President Elect Abrahams Lincoln’s days leading up to his inauguration. It encompasses far more an hour of danger; one gets a thorough understanding of the strife and distress in America as states begin to secede, transportation quandaries, and the power journalists had. As the author states, “Lincoln’s election had thrown the country into crisis,” and later quotes Horace Greeley’s comment, “There was forty times the rea The Hour of Peril is a well -researched, continuously documented account of President Elect Abrahams Lincoln’s days leading up to his inauguration. It encompasses far more an hour of danger; one gets a thorough understanding of the strife and distress in America as states begin to secede, transportation quandaries, and the power journalists had. As the author states, “Lincoln’s election had thrown the country into crisis,” and later quotes Horace Greeley’s comment, “There was forty times the reason for shooting him in 1860 than there was in ’65.” Against such a backdrop, Stashower paints a vivid and endearing picture of Lincoln’s thoughts, wit, and actions. Pinkerton emerges as a fascinating and steadfast schemer. I particularly enjoyed the small illustrations throughout the book, the quotes at each chapter’s beginning, and meeting Kate Warne, Pinkerton’s first female detective. At times I felt bogged down with too much information, but the effort was well worth it. This is an excellent book for those who like history, biographies, and tales of intrigue.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    There is no mystery how this book will end: Lincoln survives his journey and is inaugurated as President of the United States. And yet somehow Daniel Stashower has turned historical fact into a nail-biting thriller. I was expecting essentially a biography of Lincoln's time leading up to his presidency, but the whole first third or so of the book is really a biography of Allen Pinkerton, the man who created the profession of private investigators. It's fascinating! I cannot wait to give this book There is no mystery how this book will end: Lincoln survives his journey and is inaugurated as President of the United States. And yet somehow Daniel Stashower has turned historical fact into a nail-biting thriller. I was expecting essentially a biography of Lincoln's time leading up to his presidency, but the whole first third or so of the book is really a biography of Allen Pinkerton, the man who created the profession of private investigators. It's fascinating! I cannot wait to give this book to my history buff father-in-law. The only thing which keeps me from rating it 5 stars is that there were so many names that sometimes I lost track and would have really appreciated some sort of glossary and/or chronological timeline as an appendix that I could refer to occasionally. Otherwise, though, it was outstanding! I received an advance copy from the publisher through Bookbrowse.com, but the book is scheduled to be published next month (February 2013), so it's not too long of a wait. For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, character & setting secondary. No sex or onscreen violence (just the plotting thereof).

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Yingling

    Allan Pinkerton has gotten a lot of "bad press" over the years, so I was glad to see a more balanced, positive history of his life and times. I admire his doggedness, and his much more enlightened views on slavery and its evils.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Poole

    The Hour of Peril shines a light on a key moment in the run-up to the U.S. Civil War. As northern and southern states divided over the abolition movement (among other issues), the election of Abraham Lincoln threatened a permanent rift between the two regions. In early 1861, as Lincoln undertook a slow train tour to bring him from Illinois to Washington, DC for his inauguration, the U.S. teetered on the brink of the Civil War, with southern states seceding and tension running high. Lincoln receive The Hour of Peril shines a light on a key moment in the run-up to the U.S. Civil War. As northern and southern states divided over the abolition movement (among other issues), the election of Abraham Lincoln threatened a permanent rift between the two regions. In early 1861, as Lincoln undertook a slow train tour to bring him from Illinois to Washington, DC for his inauguration, the U.S. teetered on the brink of the Civil War, with southern states seceding and tension running high. Lincoln received outrageous death threats as a matter of course, but declined a military escort for his tour, wary of inciting southern anger with a show of force. A railroad president, fearful of attacks on the tracks that would carry the President-elect to the nation’s capital, engaged famed detective Allan Pinkerton to safeguard his line. Pinkerton and his team deployed to the Baltimore area, in the key border state of Maryland. The key access point to Washington, DC, Maryland expressed strong southern sympathies and was distinctly anti-Lincoln. Pinkerton’s team uncovered a plot to assassinate Lincoln as he traveled through the city. The detective set in motion a plan to outmaneuver the conspirators and deliver Lincoln to the capital. Author Daniel Stashower incorporates a wealth of historical detail that gives The Hour of Peril a lot of narrative momentum. The ability to create suspense around events when most readers already know the outcome is the hallmark of well-written non-fiction and Stashower maintains that pace very nicely. His extensive research and keen eye for telling personal details about the historical figures dramatized in this work add a lot of depth, bringing out the drama and humanity of the story. Stashower provides enough context to set the stage, including background on Pinkerton’s colorful history and the turbulent events of the pre-Civil War period, without overloading readers. His accounts of the Pinkerton team’s work in Baltimore has the dramatic heft of first rate crime fiction. He effectively captures the virtues and flaws of his cast of historical personages, adding a real human element to the tense events. Lincoln and Pinkerton are the central figures of the account and unsurprisingly emerge as the most compelling and sympathetic presence in the narrative. Modern readers used to the extensive security arrangements for politicians will goggle at how very exposed to the public that Lincoln was in the era before the creation of the Secret Service. Stashower does a solid job of demonstrating the fallout from this early event and its influence on the lead up to the war. He presents a balanced, even-handed account of the ups and downs of the affair, calling out poor decisions without being unduly harsh on his subjects. The Hour of Peril is an absorbing look at an important chapter of the American story. It’s a tale worth experiencing, with themes that still resonate in the present day.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I borrowed this book because I have never heard of any attempt to assassinate Abraham Lincoln back in 1861 during his trip to Washington to be inaugurated in as president of the United States before the Civil War. Of course we know that any attempt to murder Lincoln in 1861 was unsuccessful. The book has a good start and even gave the background to the detective Alan Pinkerton, the famous Private investigator that eventually helped coined the phrase “private eye.” The author wrote in a dramatic I borrowed this book because I have never heard of any attempt to assassinate Abraham Lincoln back in 1861 during his trip to Washington to be inaugurated in as president of the United States before the Civil War. Of course we know that any attempt to murder Lincoln in 1861 was unsuccessful. The book has a good start and even gave the background to the detective Alan Pinkerton, the famous Private investigator that eventually helped coined the phrase “private eye.” The author wrote in a dramatic fashion and told the story like a thriller. Perhaps the novel like suspense eventually hurt the book since towards the middle of the book I started wondering whether there was really any attempt to murder Lincoln and by the end of the book I was totally disappointed. For a book that was sold as a secret plot to murder Lincoln, there was in the end nothing really concrete of aconspiracy of an immediate threat that was unearth to murder Lincoln beyond rumors, drunken men talking, secret agents listening in to people in bars and brothels and some nutcases getting together filled with self-importance. Essentially the book was about Pinkerton and others who were worried and eventually convinced Abraham Lincoln to secretly sneak into Washington DC rather than enter through Baltimore and Maryland publicly, which at that time had many pro-Confederate sympathizer. I would say this book and the event was totally disappointing. The only action you will get is when Pinkerton punched a Congressman when he escorted Lincoln off the railroad station because he was paranoid and didn’t know whom the Congressman was. I thought that captured pretty accurately the paranoia of Pinkerton and what to me is Pinkerton and the author’s misjudgment. In the end, the plotters whom Pinkerton’s men spied upon weren’t even arrested and went back to normal life without being questioned or detained which made me wonder how much of a threat there really was in the first place when proper authorities didn’t even take action.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    I will review this book the way technology and high finance writer Kevin Roose reviewed Amazon Prime. In both cases, the impact of the subject is compounded because it is "good enough" in so many areas. Just like Amazon Prime is good enough in its selection of music and stream video to make its members feel like they are getting a good deal, although it wouldn't compete specialists in those areas, this book would compete with an in-depth biography, in-depth history of the period, or an in-depth s I will review this book the way technology and high finance writer Kevin Roose reviewed Amazon Prime. In both cases, the impact of the subject is compounded because it is "good enough" in so many areas. Just like Amazon Prime is good enough in its selection of music and stream video to make its members feel like they are getting a good deal, although it wouldn't compete specialists in those areas, this book would compete with an in-depth biography, in-depth history of the period, or an in-depth spy thriller. But it spends enough time with each of those areas that it is overall a very satisfying experience. Biographically, the author is good at following the process of human transformation. His stratified Pinkerton goes from rebel on the run, to barrel-making immigrant hoping to happen upon raw material, to reluctant Detective, to national pioneer of crime investigation. He To Lincoln just at the cusp of the move from private individual to wholly-owned subsidiary of a nation unsure of its own identity. This chapter, little-known in-depth, also makes for intriguing history because we know in retrospect what is at stake. Often, the partisans actually allude to what would happen if Lincoln were assassinated, and this provides the reader with points to ponder. Would the North rise up"as one man" in moral indignation part about by the assassination of its elected leader? Or would the join the wave of revolutions that swept across Europe at mid century, in fact led by an Italian patriot who had emigrated to Baltimore? These airy or internal musings are stitched together and kept moving by the spy thriller aspects of this book. The author is good at delving into what it takes to infiltrate a conspiracy and at conveying plainly the risks involved. He even has a heroin to convey these truths in a pioneering female detective.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I listened to the audio book The Hour of Peril:The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower and narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. This is the story of the plot to kill Lincoln on his way to his first inauguration. It is also the story of Allan Pinkerton and his part in the affair. Allan Pinkerton of Scotland was a cooper - a barrel maker. Due to unfair labor practices, he comes to America and sets up a business. He is on a business trip to get materials for his busines I listened to the audio book The Hour of Peril:The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower and narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. This is the story of the plot to kill Lincoln on his way to his first inauguration. It is also the story of Allan Pinkerton and his part in the affair. Allan Pinkerton of Scotland was a cooper - a barrel maker. Due to unfair labor practices, he comes to America and sets up a business. He is on a business trip to get materials for his business when he comes to an island. Something is going on. He finds out that it is counterfeiting. He gets the local sheriff and they bust up the ring of counterfeiters. This begins his involvement with law enforcement. The sheriff said to him, "I never nap". Pinkerton takes this idea and changes it to his motto "We Never Sleep". His logo was an eye. He was the first to come up with the term "private eye". By day he works and at night he is breaking the law. He becomes friends with John Brown the abolitionist and sets up a "station" at his home for the Underground Railroad. Pinkerton was the man who hired Kate Warren a young widow, who had the pluck to ask for a job. He said he did not need a secretary. Kate said, "You misunderstand me. I want a job as a detective." She said a woman can find out things from the lovers and wives that men can't. Men will confide in their lovers and wives and she could befriend them and find out that same information. Pinkerton worked with the railroads and the railroad hired him to be sure there was no plan to disrupt the rails during the Lincoln trip to Washington, as rebel feelings were running high. While in Baltimore he uncovers a plot to assassinate Lincoln on the way to Washington by a small group of rebels. Feelings ran high in Baltimore that it was an affront to Southern manhood that Lincoln should be allowed to pass unharmed through Baltimore, MD. The plot was lead by an Italian barber Ferrandini. He was the charismatic leader who gathered a group of men to assassinate the new president. They pulled a paper out of the hat, and the assassin would have a red mark on the paper. They had to pull their paper, wait to look at it privately and tell no one if you were the one selected to commit the assassination. Ferrandini's plan included not just 1 red mark, but 8, to insure that if anyone got "cold feet" the assassination would be carried out. Then begins the difficult and hair raising task of getting to the President and getting him to change the timing of his itinerary so he passed through Baltimore at night and into Washington DC safely a few days before the inauguration.

  12. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    As a former history teacher, I was drawn in by the cover and introduction to Daniel Stashower's "The Hour of Peril". The story dealt with a part of pre-Civil War history that I didn't know much about - that being the plot to assassinate Lincoln on way to his 1st inauguration. The book appears to be well researched with a number of sources cited at the end. Stashower begins the story with a short bio of America's first detective, Allan Pinkerton, and the creation of his detective agency. Pinkerton As a former history teacher, I was drawn in by the cover and introduction to Daniel Stashower's "The Hour of Peril". The story dealt with a part of pre-Civil War history that I didn't know much about - that being the plot to assassinate Lincoln on way to his 1st inauguration. The book appears to be well researched with a number of sources cited at the end. Stashower begins the story with a short bio of America's first detective, Allan Pinkerton, and the creation of his detective agency. Pinkerton's role in the story soon becomes evident as Stashower describes Lincoln's well-publicized trip from his home in Springfield, IL to Washington. Pinkerton and his operatives discover that a plot to kill Lincoln by Southern sympathizers is underfoot and may take place as the train moves through Baltimore. Lincoln's 13 day journey starts innocuously enough as he makes stops in Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia, and dozens of smaller "whistle stops" at other locations. Pinkerton realizes just as the trip begins that Lincoln's chances of getting from Baltimore to Washington alive are slim. His spies believe that there could be hundreds of Southern sympathizers who may be part of the plan to kill the President-elect. Well, as we all know, Lincoln made it to Washington alive for his inauguration, but rather than give away the entire plot to save the President-elect in this review, let me stop here so that the reader can discover all of that for him- or herself. Let me finish by saying that the book is a pleasant reading experience that should appeal to Civil War buffs, historians, and even the casual reading of history. It doesn't read like a text, but more like a novel, which will give it wider appeal.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    This was an interesting book for me because of the period of which it covers. I am always fascinated by the language they used and always enjoy a good Lincoln book. The title is a bit of a misnomer since the book covers much more than an "hour" and the book focuses so much more on Allen Pinkerton than Abraham Lincoln. To the author's defense, the sub-title does hold true. The book kept me interested throughout. It appears at face value to be duly researched. I did not research his references thou This was an interesting book for me because of the period of which it covers. I am always fascinated by the language they used and always enjoy a good Lincoln book. The title is a bit of a misnomer since the book covers much more than an "hour" and the book focuses so much more on Allen Pinkerton than Abraham Lincoln. To the author's defense, the sub-title does hold true. The book kept me interested throughout. It appears at face value to be duly researched. I did not research his references thought. The book covers ONE of the plots and attempts on President Lincoln's life. In particular, the attempts prior to his first presidential inauguration. It appeared to be a well thought out and planned scheme to assassinate the president-elect. Pinkerton and his men, women too, were able to discover and eventually thwart the assassination by changing the travel plans of the president without letting the public know. Although many saw Lincoln as a coward for not facing his would-be attackers "like a man", in actuality, he was able to dodge this attack and become ARGUABLY a "great" president. Abraham was a good man insofar as he should not have been murdered, however he also should not be permitted to be deified in the annals of history. Although he did "inherit" a precarious situation, Lincoln had many avenues to explore but chose force, thus changing the landscape of State Sovereignty for evermore. Because of his actions, and his granting of the executive branch untold powers, we have the leviathan in D.C. we have today. I have committed to read one Lincoln book per month. This one was February 2013's book. I recommend it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    SeaShore

    This book took me by surprise revealing a biography of the popular detective of the day, Allan Pinkerton, who gained quite a reputation solving crimes. So, when threats were made on the President-elect Abraham Lincoln, Pinkerton was called on for protection. Allan Pinkerton's wife, Joan (23 years younger) was at his side throughout. Pinkerton ( 1819 - 1884) was among those who defended the Abolitionists' cause. Much detail is given on the building up of Pinkerton's reputation in the 1850s. John Br This book took me by surprise revealing a biography of the popular detective of the day, Allan Pinkerton, who gained quite a reputation solving crimes. So, when threats were made on the President-elect Abraham Lincoln, Pinkerton was called on for protection. Allan Pinkerton's wife, Joan (23 years younger) was at his side throughout. Pinkerton ( 1819 - 1884) was among those who defended the Abolitionists' cause. Much detail is given on the building up of Pinkerton's reputation in the 1850s. John Brown who was executed by hanging on Dec 2. 1859 was a bosom friend of Pinkerton. Other aquaintances such as McLellan, 10 years his junior and with exceptional ability is described. The reader is drawn on to Lincoln Special train journey through Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Buffalo listening to the conversations of Lincoln and his team; and the discussions by the would-be assasin and the group assigned to assasinate Lincoln. The plot to murder Lincoln on the train is described in Chapter 13. A patriotic work! The murder inevitable! Who was Ferundini? The murderous plot was compared to the murder of Julius Caesar. "Not that I loved Caesar less but I loved Rome more." The inwards workings of the conspiracy are reported by Pinkerton. On to Chapter 16. Banners read: "RIGHT makes MIGHT" "Show Caution.." Walt Whitman was present there in New York, later writing, "....I had no doubt- So frenzied were the firmaments of the time. Many assassins' knives and pistols lurked in breast pockets. Ready...... " Pinkerton sent a message via Mrs Warren to Judd asking for a meeting to discuss the conspirators' plot to assassinate Lincoln.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Color me impressed. This was actually a very good book. Although historical, it reads like a good thriller, keeping the reader on edge for most of the story. We all know than neither Lincoln, nor Pinkerton die at the end (oops, sorry, spoiler) but the author does manage to keep the reader riveted through most of the book. Lincoln's ugly mug does grace the cover of the book, but the story is less about him than about Alan Pinkerton, but that's OK, cause Pinkerton was an interesting character in his Color me impressed. This was actually a very good book. Although historical, it reads like a good thriller, keeping the reader on edge for most of the story. We all know than neither Lincoln, nor Pinkerton die at the end (oops, sorry, spoiler) but the author does manage to keep the reader riveted through most of the book. Lincoln's ugly mug does grace the cover of the book, but the story is less about him than about Alan Pinkerton, but that's OK, cause Pinkerton was an interesting character in his own mind, er, I mean right. UPDATE: January 17, 2013 Well, will wonders ever cease? I'd written the person giving this book away about not receiving it about a week ago and she wrote me back about it being late with publisher and that she would over-night me the book. So, today the UPS man rings the doorbell and lo and behold, I got the book. I've put it back on my to-read list and will be getting to it when I get the time and giving it a fair"er" review. NO. NOT READ! I won this as a Goodreads Giveaway on November 6, 2012. As of December 15 (today) I still hadn't received it. I've pretty much given up on getting it at all. If you're gonna post a book as a giveaway, at least have the decency of delivering it to the winners, or at the very least supply an explanation as to why you can't, couldn't or won't make good on your word. As for my rating of One Star... it's not that I didn't like it, it's just that I haven't been given the opportunity to judge it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Roseborough

    This book reads like a good suspense thriller. Even though we know the plot to kill Lincoln at this time will not be successful, we can't help making comparisons with the later successful assassination. The research that went into this book is well evidenced in the detail of this easily overlooked footnote in history. The coming events of the Civil War and Lincoln's eventual assassination in 1865 would largely remove this incident to a side track of history. We owe much of the thanks for preserv This book reads like a good suspense thriller. Even though we know the plot to kill Lincoln at this time will not be successful, we can't help making comparisons with the later successful assassination. The research that went into this book is well evidenced in the detail of this easily overlooked footnote in history. The coming events of the Civil War and Lincoln's eventual assassination in 1865 would largely remove this incident to a side track of history. We owe much of the thanks for preserving the details of this incident to the remarkable work of Allen Pinkerton and his agents. They performed much of the undercover field work that revealed the plots to kill President elect Lincoln. The author gives Pinkerton much of the credit. He also acknowledges, however, that other independent investigations were going on to try to ascertain the degree of threat to Lincoln as he traveled through Baltimore, whose populace largely sided with the pro-secessionists of the deep South. Many threats were voiced that Lincoln would not be allowed to proceed to Washington to take the oath of office. A good overview of Pinkerton, his skilled agents and the history of the Pinkerton Detective Agency adds greatly to the the book. The author is thorough in his research and doesn't fail to give opposing views of the events that were to transpire. Book provided by Amazon Vine.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I do enjoy reading about historical events. Although, I would not call myself a history buff. I do have a love/hate relationship with history. This is because, while I do enjoy reading about history, I am particular to certain time periods and also, because it is history, I do grow easily bored of reading about the past after a while. This did happen with this book as well. I really appreciated Mr. Stashower’s explicit knowledge to details even to the little minor ones but after a while, I did g I do enjoy reading about historical events. Although, I would not call myself a history buff. I do have a love/hate relationship with history. This is because, while I do enjoy reading about history, I am particular to certain time periods and also, because it is history, I do grow easily bored of reading about the past after a while. This did happen with this book as well. I really appreciated Mr. Stashower’s explicit knowledge to details even to the little minor ones but after a while, I did grow tried and had to skim and flash forward sections of this book. I expected this book to me more focused on the plot to murder Lincoln. Don’t get me wrong as Mr. Stashower did explain about the attempts on Lincoln prior to him becoming President but this book seemed like it was spent in detail talking about the Pinkertons. I did not mind reading about Allan Pinkerton as I did find him an entertaining character. I did like that he and his wife were part of the “underground railroad” movement. This part of history has fascinated me. Another person that was interesting was Kate Warne. She is considered to be the first woman private eye. She is someone that I would have imagined wanting to be if I lived in this time period. The letters and photos that were inserted throughout this book were great. Overall, I found The Hour of Peril to be an enjoyable read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I really enjoyed this book! I had previously read of an assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln on his trip from Springfield, IL to Washington, DC in 1861 for his inauguration. What I didn't know was the effort and toil that went into preventing this assassination by Allen Pinkerton and his team. This books is part biography (of Pinkerton) and part historical thriller (if you are into history, as I certainly am). My previous knowledge of Pinkerton was vague and negative--I knew he was involved I really enjoyed this book! I had previously read of an assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln on his trip from Springfield, IL to Washington, DC in 1861 for his inauguration. What I didn't know was the effort and toil that went into preventing this assassination by Allen Pinkerton and his team. This books is part biography (of Pinkerton) and part historical thriller (if you are into history, as I certainly am). My previous knowledge of Pinkerton was vague and negative--I knew he was involved in stopping a worker's strike at a Carnegie factory in Pittsburgh that resulted in ten deaths (the book goes to explain that the incident was long past Pinkerton's death and his sons were in control of the company at that time). This book is very detailed, explaining how the Pinkerton team (arguably the first private detective company to employ women), infiltrated secessionist Baltimore to uncover the sinister plot to blow up Lincoln's train and then assasinate him. Well researched and well-written!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Terry Cornell

    This is about Lincoln's train journey from Illinois to Washington D.C. for his inauguration. Unlike today--you simply could not board a train, to take you directly to another city across the country. Each railroad operated individually and people had to transfer from the station of one carrier to that of another. Which leads to this story. In order to get to Washington D.C. Lincoln had to transfer from one train station to another in Baltimore. Maryland and Baltimore later were part of the Confe This is about Lincoln's train journey from Illinois to Washington D.C. for his inauguration. Unlike today--you simply could not board a train, to take you directly to another city across the country. Each railroad operated individually and people had to transfer from the station of one carrier to that of another. Which leads to this story. In order to get to Washington D.C. Lincoln had to transfer from one train station to another in Baltimore. Maryland and Baltimore later were part of the Confederacy and several individuals and groups had already threatened that Lincoln would not survive his passage through the city to be inaugurated. This book is partly the history of his journey across the country, partly a biography of Allan Pinkerton who with his agents investigated potential plots in Baltimore and likely at least postponed Lincoln's death. As Lincoln journeys through Baltimore the book almost reads as a thriller. Well written about a small segment in our history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    wade

    This book tells the story (non fiction) of a plot to killed Abraham Lincoln as he traveled to Washing D C on the way to his inauguration in Baltimore, Maryland along his travel route. The main character in the book is Alan Pinkerton who was known as the best detective in the country at that time. The first third of the book is essentially his biography and those who he employed that were essential in thwarting the plot. In fact, the term private eye comes from him as on his office door he had a This book tells the story (non fiction) of a plot to killed Abraham Lincoln as he traveled to Washing D C on the way to his inauguration in Baltimore, Maryland along his travel route. The main character in the book is Alan Pinkerton who was known as the best detective in the country at that time. The first third of the book is essentially his biography and those who he employed that were essential in thwarting the plot. In fact, the term private eye comes from him as on his office door he had a large open eye with the words under it "We never sleep". The book from here tells of how he and his people infiltrate the gang and ultimately with the support of Sec. Seward thwart the plot. The book is more for the history buff than the general reader - I teach History at a junior college and I liked it a lot.

  21. 5 out of 5

    April

    I listened to The Hour Of Peril: The Secret Plot To Murder Lincoln Before The Civil War by Daniel Stashower narrated by Edoardo Ballerini because of this secret project where I am judging audiobooks for a thing. Once I get through all of them, I will let you guys actually know what the project is. Anyways, I chose this one to listen to because the subject matter is interesting. I know not everyone finds presidential history all that fascinating, but I do. Like, I even have a list of my favorite I listened to The Hour Of Peril: The Secret Plot To Murder Lincoln Before The Civil War by Daniel Stashower narrated by Edoardo Ballerini because of this secret project where I am judging audiobooks for a thing. Once I get through all of them, I will let you guys actually know what the project is. Anyways, I chose this one to listen to because the subject matter is interesting. I know not everyone finds presidential history all that fascinating, but I do. Like, I even have a list of my favorite presidents (Teddy Roosevelt, I am looking at YOU) and it turns out that Lincoln is among them. SO! When I was given the chance to listen to a book about pre-Civil War era Lincoln, I took it. Read the rest of my review here Note: Review and link will work on February 20, 2014

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim Mcfarlane

    Hour of Peril by Edgar award-winning author Daniel Stashower is a well-written, engaging book full of anecdotes, short quotes from contemporary sources and excellent backstories that interweave four interesting strands of little-known American history: Allan Pinkerton, America's original "private eye;" that critical period between Lincoln's election and his inauguration, when the country teetered on the precipice; Abraham Lincoln dealing with the crisis before he had the power of office; and the Hour of Peril by Edgar award-winning author Daniel Stashower is a well-written, engaging book full of anecdotes, short quotes from contemporary sources and excellent backstories that interweave four interesting strands of little-known American history: Allan Pinkerton, America's original "private eye;" that critical period between Lincoln's election and his inauguration, when the country teetered on the precipice; Abraham Lincoln dealing with the crisis before he had the power of office; and the plot to assassinate him before he took office on 4 Mar 1861. Recommended for anyone fascinated by American history.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I especially liked the part of the story that talked about how detective Allan Pinkerton got his start in detecting, as well as how he hired a woman, Kate Warne, to be the first female detective in the United States. Staff favorite review: Abraham Lincoln always had detractors, even before the Civil War started, even before his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. This book offers fascinating insights into the days leading up to Lincoln's first inauguration and the danger that awaited him on his jo I especially liked the part of the story that talked about how detective Allan Pinkerton got his start in detecting, as well as how he hired a woman, Kate Warne, to be the first female detective in the United States. Staff favorite review: Abraham Lincoln always had detractors, even before the Civil War started, even before his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. This book offers fascinating insights into the days leading up to Lincoln's first inauguration and the danger that awaited him on his journey from Illinois to Washington, D.C. There was no Secret Service back then, and little thought had ever been put into the true danger that could befall a president.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joe Legros

    The Hour of Peril – Book Review Before I dig into this book review, I would like to share some disclaimers, credentials and requests for forgiveness. Credentials, Disclaimers & Bias Let me start off by saying I love Abraham Lincoln and I had already consumed several books about him prior to picking up Daniel Stashower's, "The Hour of Peril – The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War." He’s my favorite President. He served and practiced law in my home state of Illinois. He was born in The Hour of Peril – Book Review Before I dig into this book review, I would like to share some disclaimers, credentials and requests for forgiveness. Credentials, Disclaimers & Bias Let me start off by saying I love Abraham Lincoln and I had already consumed several books about him prior to picking up Daniel Stashower's, "The Hour of Peril – The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War." He’s my favorite President. He served and practiced law in my home state of Illinois. He was born in Kentucky right in the heart of the Bourbon Belt. By the way, add this to your bucket list of must-do items: sign up to tour a whiskey distillery! Recommendation: Maker’s Mark (they let you dip your own bottle in molten hot wax magma). While you’re in the area, visit Lincoln’s birthplace. For quite a while from the confines of my car, I would get myself motivated before sales calls by listening to an absolutely electrifying version of the Gettysburg Address performed by Johnny Cash. You must hear this version in order to count yourself as a Lincoln fan; not to mention, it’s fun to imagine Johnny Cash as President of the United States. Along my Lincoln odyssey, I do have some regrets. For instance, I watched Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is probably not an accurate historical account of Lincoln’s vampire-infested rise to prominence. I’ll just say there are better movies out there and leave it at that. Please forgive me. On the positive side, I have visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, Lincoln’s residence in Springfield, Illinois and his birthplace in Sinking Spring Farm, Kentucky (although I still need to see the actual National Park area). Back to the Book at Hand Now that we have my presidential man-crush fully out in the open, I can confidently say I enjoyed Stashower’s account of the plot to kill Lincoln. While everyone knows Lincoln was brutally shot and killed in Ford’s Theater by a disgruntled John Wilkes Booth, "The Hour of Peril" illuminates an assassination conspiracy many have never heard before. “The Baltimore Plot” While Stashower’s book plays out as a historical account, Lincoln’s tumultuous train ride to the White House reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller. It’s also an origin story of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency which is largely responsible for thwarting the assassination attempt. In fact, the focus of the book falls largely upon the agency’s founder, Allan Pinkerton (more on him later). As Lincoln passes through numerous train stops on his way from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC for his inauguration, readers like me (see above disclaimer section) will be spellbound by the speeches (yes, verbatim) and interactions with both supporters and detractors within each town. Key characters vie for Lincoln’s attention, especially those who seek political appointments and favors. All this happens while would-be assassins plot an ambush for the day Lincoln’s train passes through Baltimore. Race Against Time and Stoicism While performing investigative services on behalf of a railroad (the same railroad Lincoln will pass through in a few short days), Allan Pinkerton stumbles upon a plot to kill the incoming president. Pinkerton knows and supports Lincoln; he sees it as his foremost duty to stop the assassination at all costs. Utilizing his considerable investigative talents, assumed identities and political influence (though he was not actually a politician), Pinkerton assembles an intricate network of operatives, deploying them throughout Baltimore. Along the way, we learn he is a progressive thinker, hiring the first female investigator, Kate Warne. Pinkerton also moonlights as an agent of the Underground Railroad, providing safe passage to the likes of John Brown (a radical abolitionist and contemporary of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass). While some of the investigative tactics are considered questionable (some argue “entrapment”), Pinkerton’s team uncovers enough evidence to alert the President prior to entering Baltimore. However, Lincoln was not one to back down from confrontation. He had been debating as a practicing lawyer and passionate abolitionist for decades and needs to be thoroughly convinced of the looming danger. Finally, Lincoln relents and takes an earlier train, passing right under Baltimore’s nose on his way to the White House. We Know What Happens and That’s Okay Although readers know Lincoln survives this assassination attempt to become President a few days later, Stashower does an incredible job sustaining interest. He bounces from Lincoln to Pinkerton to operatives in the field, providing excellent and well-researched insight into the background of the main characters. Pinkerton is a Scottish-immigrant, worker’s rights activist, abolitionist and Underground Railroad operative. He’s complex and secretive, but also open-minded and willing to take risks. I don’t usually buy into the notion of a “self-made man,” but Pinkerton epitomizes this in every sense. If you’re thinking that I really enjoyed the character of Allan Pinkerton, you’re right. I count this as a testimony to Stashower’s ability to paint a vibrant picture of a man whom I had counted as a scoundrel prior to reading this account. History shows us that Pinkerton’s legacy is tarnished (google or read this book for more information). We also know that Lincoln’s enemies eventually overcome him. But Lincoln’s survival through Baltimore, even with the ensuing criticism, proves critical to the preservation of the union. Foiling the “Baltimore Plot” matters. Read this.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sherilyn

    In February of 1861 Lincoln and two lone bodyguards entered Washington. It had not been an easy endeavor. If Lincoln could be prevented from taking office, the South could perhaps secede without war. This book presents the Baltimore plot against Lincoln's life and also tells the story of early crime investigation by the Pinkerton detective agency. The book however is uneven in the telling, sometimes gripping and full of tension, at other times slow in the telling. Overall a fascinating slice of h In February of 1861 Lincoln and two lone bodyguards entered Washington. It had not been an easy endeavor. If Lincoln could be prevented from taking office, the South could perhaps secede without war. This book presents the Baltimore plot against Lincoln's life and also tells the story of early crime investigation by the Pinkerton detective agency. The book however is uneven in the telling, sometimes gripping and full of tension, at other times slow in the telling. Overall a fascinating slice of history worth the read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I will say that I had no idea that so many people wanted Lincoln dead before his inauguration. That's about all I learned. Basically, this is the story - So they were on a train. And people wanted to kill Lincoln. And then they were on a train. And people still wanted to kill Lincoln. And then they were on a train... It went on and on and on and nothing happened. So disappointing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Hager

    Interesting story about the start of Pinkerton's career and his involvement in making sure Lincoln arrives safely to DC for his inauguration. Nice discussion of the political environment leading up to the start of the Civil War. It kept up a good pace until the last 50 pages or so, which I struggled to get through.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Canipe

    A very interesting study of the details of a story which you may have heard of, but never seen detailed. Danial Stashower narrated the story of how private detective Allan Pinkerton uncovered a fully-developed plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincolnton as his train went through the Confederate hot bed of Baltimore, Maryland, and then convinced Lincoln to deviate from his announced travel schedule by going through Baltimore surreptitiously and unannounced in a sleeper car with a few o A very interesting study of the details of a story which you may have heard of, but never seen detailed. Danial Stashower narrated the story of how private detective Allan Pinkerton uncovered a fully-developed plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincolnton as his train went through the Confederate hot bed of Baltimore, Maryland, and then convinced Lincoln to deviate from his announced travel schedule by going through Baltimore surreptitiously and unannounced in a sleeper car with a few of Pinkerton's operatives. I also enjoyed the mini-biography of Pinkerton. Born in Scotland, Pinkerton marched with the Chartists, a working man's union group. Under threat of arrest and deportation, Pinkerton wisely left for Canada and later the United States with his young wife. He became a cooper (barrell maker) but lost local favor in his locality due to running for pubic office as an abolitionist. Fortunately, Pinkerton had been working as well as a sort of amateur detective and was hired as a police detective in the burgeoning city of Chicago. Pinkerton went on to develop a large and successful detective agency, with large corporate clients, particularity rail roads and companies which transported cash and valuable goods. In this capacity, Pinkerton also came to know Abraham Lincoln, then a Illinois lawyer who also did work for these same clients. In the run up to Lincoln'd inauguration, one of Pinkerton's railroad clients hired Pinkerton (and his various employees-private detectives) to investigate a suspected plot to blow up the railroad's property. There, in gaining access to many people who supported the idea of secession at different social and economic levels, Pinkerton became convinced of a plot to kill Lincoln. Pinkerton's counter-plan succeeded and Lincoln was inaugurated. However, he made powerful enemies among Lincoln's inner circle who thought that the claimed plot never existed and was a ploy to gain greater business and personal notoriety. The book closes with these disagreements and various books pro and against the Pinkerton theory. Very interesting. There are some end notes to primary and secondary sources, though not enough to satisfy my professional historian's taste for documentation.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Neumann

    The book looks at the plot to murder Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore on his way to Washington to be sworn in as President in 1861. It is also a biography of Allan Pinkerton, perhaps America's most famous detective. Pinkerton's story is very interesting, especially how he went from a hardworking cooper (maker of barrels) to a well known detective in a short period of time. The book looks at the workings of his detective agency, his trade mark was an open eye ("we never sleep") which is where the ter The book looks at the plot to murder Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore on his way to Washington to be sworn in as President in 1861. It is also a biography of Allan Pinkerton, perhaps America's most famous detective. Pinkerton's story is very interesting, especially how he went from a hardworking cooper (maker of barrels) to a well known detective in a short period of time. The book looks at the workings of his detective agency, his trade mark was an open eye ("we never sleep") which is where the term private eye came from. We meet some of his agents, including Kate Warne, the first female professional detective. We discover Pinkerton was very active in the underground railroad, and was close friends with John Brown. He knew Lincoln from their work for the Illinois Railroad, Mr. Lincoln was their lawyer and Pinkerton head of security. The book then goes into how Pinkerton became involved in discovering the plot against the President, his agency was looking into threats against the B & O railroad when they stumbled on to the assassination plot. The book then goes back and forth between the detectives at work around Baltimore and Mr. Lincoln's long train trip from Illinois to Washington in February/March of 1861. While the story is mainly from Pinkerton's point of view, the author wisely includes information and events that were unknown to the detective to give the readers a complete view of the events. I found the book very interesting, with facts new to me. I do feel it would have been better with a little less of the Lincoln trip, which basically repeated itself in town after town. Also, it seems to me a mistake when he discussed in detail the press and public reaction to Lincoln's "sneaking" through Baltimore before he discussed how they did it. There seems no doubt Lincoln's safety would have been in jeopardy had he went through Baltimore as planned, mobs broke into Vice President elect Hamlin's train car looking for Lincoln the night before. What is amazing to me how little thought they gave to Lincoln's security, considering the explosive time it was. The book gives a detailed look at the events, and worth reading especially for history buffs.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    A few years back I saw a noirish 1951 movie called, The Tall Target a whipcrack little period thriller loosely based on the first assassination attempt in 1861 on president-elect, Abraham Lincoln. As I recall its plot, some heroic detectives were tracking down an assassin who managed to find his way onto the same train carrying Lincoln cross-country to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. A more recent movie, Saving Lincoln -- which I have not seen -- appears to offer another perspective on this A few years back I saw a noirish 1951 movie called, The Tall Target a whipcrack little period thriller loosely based on the first assassination attempt in 1861 on president-elect, Abraham Lincoln. As I recall its plot, some heroic detectives were tracking down an assassin who managed to find his way onto the same train carrying Lincoln cross-country to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. A more recent movie, Saving Lincoln -- which I have not seen -- appears to offer another perspective on this event. This book, The Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashower, is about that very same assassination attempt, but not surprisingly, truth is a lot more interesting than the extremely simplified version of the earlier film, and very likely of the second. Having previously read Stashower's remarkable account of an eerie unsolved murder case in squalid 1840s New York City, The Beautiful Cigar Girl, with great admiration four years ago, I approached this with high expectations, and for the most part was again pleased with the results. Both books demonstrate Stashower's talent for impeccable research and fulsome detail (perhaps overmuch for some readers), and his genuinely palpable love for the America of the mid-19th century. Stashower demonstrates mastery of context and a real elan and facility for establishing the mood of the times. And the mood of those times was explosive. America was on the brink of civil war, and the country was a powder keg, and for many, Lincoln was a lightning rod. Talk of impending Southern secession was peppered with buzz among the backroom elites and the populace about a rumored death attempt on the newly elected president. His mere election was seen as an affront by secessionists, and the most extreme and bellicose Southern sympathizers were aflame with thirst for Lincoln's blood. A lot of people in hostile territories through which Lincoln would pass were inclined to ensure that neither he nor his train ever reached the capital. In Baltimore, center of the most northerly state considering secession, that talk reached a fever pitch, so much so that politicians and friends in Lincoln's circle feared for his life. Lincoln's inaugural train was scheduled for a stop in Maryland's largest city, where even the loyalties of the police ostensibly charged with his protection were suspect. For a total of 11 days, Lincoln's inaugural train slowly and ponderously traversed a tortuously circuitous and backtracking route through the northern states, from Springfield, Illinois, toward Washington. As each day passed, the tension and fears grew as Lincoln's train inched ever closer to hostile Baltimore. Little known, even to Lincoln at the time, was the existence of a vast behind-the-scenes effort, involving the railroads, the full resources of the famed Allan Pinkerton detective agency, and detectives with the New York City police, to undercover a suspected assassination plot among a cabal of extremists in Baltimore. The book centers on the efforts of the Pinkerton Agency to uncover and foil this plot, and it is a fascinating story of an episode in American history that, evidently, has never been this fully told until now. Pinkerton is so important to the tale that Stashower spends a lot of time on his life story, partly to flesh out his character, partly to provide context, and partly to dispel some myths that have arisen about Pinkerton, who today is mainly known as an enabler of strikebreaking robber barons. Stashower gives us a very different, and much more complex portrait of Pinkerton, and it makes for an engaging story in its own right. The book also examines the political dimensions of hiding such an investigation from the president until the very last minute, and also the deceptions and political maneuvering among all involved. Given the enormity of the potential consequences and the number of players involved, it's remarkable how well the case was kept under wraps. Lincoln himself, trying to deftly sidestep gaffes in a very divided country, was still attempting to please everyone, including secessionists, and his naively magnanimous inclinations to trust the better angels of Americans' natures actually proved to be dangerous to his own life. As the story proceeds, the efforts of Pinkerton and others to convince a recalcitrant Lincoln to secretly bypass Baltimore lend extra tension to the story's drama. At the end of the book, Stashower details events that happened in Baltimore just two months after Lincoln's inauguration that seemed to vindicate the earlier actions of Lincoln's protectors. One of the stranger criticisms expressed by some Goodreads' reviewers about this book is their disappointment over the lack of an actual assassination plot. Did they even read the book? There IS an assassination plot. Other interesting stories in the book include the adventures of Kate Warne, the first woman detective in the United States, a greenhorn of no apparent experience hired with some trepidation by Pinkerton who nonetheless proved herself to be one of his most brilliant employees. The way telegraphs and telegraph encryption was used in the shell game of eluding hostile ears is also fascinatingly related in the book. Admittedly, I will say, there were times when the narrative got ponderous. Stashower details the events of Lincoln's stops in every city, and most of the speeches and political events hardly differ. His inclination to be the author of record on this event perhaps clashes with his otherwise sharp talent for narrative drive. It takes a long time before the juicy elements of the story emerge and gel, and some readers might bail well before that. My advice is: don't. About 75 percent of the way into the book, Stashower takes a sudden narrative leap that some might find odd. He places Lincoln safely in Washington before all the elements of the last leg of his journey are complete. I actually find it a relief that Stashower does this; it deflates tension and allows the reader to relax before he piles on another section of detail filling out the particulars of the Baltimore to Washington leg. It allows the reader to relish the failure of the plotters. I liked the author's strategy here. The book contains perhaps not-so-surprising parallels to today's politics. The words and accusations the Southern secessionists used against Lincoln sound like the kind of drivel red state politicians spout against Obama today. It's hardly likely that there will ever be a better "book of record" on this event. And because of its ample detail, it might prove to be more satisfying to advanced Civil War buffs or to those interested in the techniques of early detective work than to general readers. I did not find the book as "unputdownable" as The Beautiful Cigar Girl, and thus the lesser rating, but nonetheless recommend this highly to history buffs. ([email protected] 2016)

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