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The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President⁠—and Why It Failed

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Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, but few are aware of the original conspiracy to kill him four years earlier in 1861, literally on his way to Washington, DC, for his first inauguration. The conspirators were part of a pro-Southern secret society that didn’t want an anti-slavery President in the White House. They planned an elaborate sche Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, but few are aware of the original conspiracy to kill him four years earlier in 1861, literally on his way to Washington, DC, for his first inauguration. The conspirators were part of a pro-Southern secret society that didn’t want an anti-slavery President in the White House. They planned an elaborate scheme to assassinate the brand new President in a Baltimore train station as Lincoln’s inauguration train passed through en route to the Capital. The plot was investigated by famed detective Allan Pinkerton, who infiltrated the group with undercover agents, including one of the first female private detectives in America. Had the assassination succeeded, there would have been no Lincoln Presidency, and the course of the Civil War and American history would have forever been altered. The bestselling team that brought you The First Conspiracy now turns their attention to the story of the secret society that tried to kill Abraham Lincoln and the undercover detectives who foiled their plans.


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Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, but few are aware of the original conspiracy to kill him four years earlier in 1861, literally on his way to Washington, DC, for his first inauguration. The conspirators were part of a pro-Southern secret society that didn’t want an anti-slavery President in the White House. They planned an elaborate sche Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, but few are aware of the original conspiracy to kill him four years earlier in 1861, literally on his way to Washington, DC, for his first inauguration. The conspirators were part of a pro-Southern secret society that didn’t want an anti-slavery President in the White House. They planned an elaborate scheme to assassinate the brand new President in a Baltimore train station as Lincoln’s inauguration train passed through en route to the Capital. The plot was investigated by famed detective Allan Pinkerton, who infiltrated the group with undercover agents, including one of the first female private detectives in America. Had the assassination succeeded, there would have been no Lincoln Presidency, and the course of the Civil War and American history would have forever been altered. The bestselling team that brought you The First Conspiracy now turns their attention to the story of the secret society that tried to kill Abraham Lincoln and the undercover detectives who foiled their plans.

30 review for The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President⁠—and Why It Failed

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brad Meltzer

    I'm biased, but I loved it. Seriously, can't WAIT to share this with you all! xo

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    In their second collaborative piece about a little-known assassination plot on a president, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch turn to one of the most beloved—or hated, depending on your outlook—men ever to ascend to the presidency, Abraham Lincoln. Little known by many at the time of his election, Lincoln was not one to shy away from controversy for his strong anti-slavery views. He toppled favourites to win the Republican nomination and then entered a presidential fight that was drawn along more tha In their second collaborative piece about a little-known assassination plot on a president, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch turn to one of the most beloved—or hated, depending on your outlook—men ever to ascend to the presidency, Abraham Lincoln. Little known by many at the time of his election, Lincoln was not one to shy away from controversy for his strong anti-slavery views. He toppled favourites to win the Republican nomination and then entered a presidential fight that was drawn along more than state or party lines, woven into the fabric of a still adolescent America. As Meltzer and Mensch illustrate, there was trouble brewing before the ballots were cast, but once Lincoln won, those who did not support him came out in droves. Of those who sought to keep slavery intact and reacted with the most vigour was a group called the Knights of the Golden Circle. This covert group had plans to remove the man and rebalance the American political situation before Lincoln could official spend a day in office, during a stop in Baltimore. While there have been numerous presidential assassination attempts and successes—Lincoln included—none had been successfully plotted or executed by a group on a president-elect. As news of the Knights plan leaked, a little known detective agency was brought in to help foil the plot and keep the president from being pushed into the crosshairs. This is the story of the Knights, their plot, and how it was stymied by some quick thinking. With wonderful detail and quotes from all parties involved, Meltzer and Mensch keep the reader feeling right in the thick of things of this situation that has barely—if ever—made mention in any history books. Recommended to those who love a good political drama that’s steeped in history and intrigue, as well as the reader who loves learning about some of the parts of American history that are not readily seen in every school primer text. I have long loved the work of Brad Meltzer and am thoroughly impressed with the work that he does alongside Josh Mensch. Some bemoan that the book is too outlandish, though I think the fact that this was a real event and not something pulled from the fictional archives of a stellar writer—of which Meltzer surely is—makes it all the more exciting. Laying the groundwork, the authors provide the reader with some backstories on all the key characters involved in the situation, including a few about whom I knew nothing before reading this book. With this and a healthy dose of the political situation at the time, the reader can see the developing plot to kill Lincoln during his ride towards Washington for the inauguration in early March 1861. The details of the story are clear and flow so well, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, as one would expect in a piece of well-crafted fiction, though this is surely steeped in reality. The authors use a great narrative style that removes much of the stuffy nature that can be found in recounting historical happenings without losing the importance of the events being shared. With a mix of short and longer chapters, the reader can learn what they need to without getting bogged down in too much minutiae, though the information was plentiful on each page. The eventual assassination plot and its execution by the likes of John Wilkes Booth dominate the history texts, but Meltzer and Mensch bring to life this earlier attempt to shed some light on just how hated Lincoln and his beliefs were to many within the country, as well as to the extent to which parts of the American public were happy to see their as-yet official president killed and left as an asterisk in the history texts. No president will match the character and actions of Abraham Lincoln, though some will try to spin it to make their megalomaniacal ego glow even more! Kudos, Messers. Meltzer and Mensch, for this refreshing look at America on the brink and one of its leaders who dodged a literal bullet to effect change. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  3. 5 out of 5

    KC

    This is the great story of how a small-time detective firm and its agents (men & women) were able to infiltrate, gather information, and befriend the members of a well established pro-Southern secret society who were plotting to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln. For history and true-crime buffs. This is the great story of how a small-time detective firm and its agents (men & women) were able to infiltrate, gather information, and befriend the members of a well established pro-Southern secret society who were plotting to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln. For history and true-crime buffs.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Martin Strouse

    Fantastic This book is three stories in one. We learn about President Lincoln’s early life. Also, Allan Pinkerton, a detective , hired to investigate a threat to a railroad, instead discovers a threat on Abraham Lincoln life. Also, we learn about white supremacists bent on preserving the southern way of life. Abraham Lincoln’s early life was a difficult one. His mother and sister both died when he was young. He had an uncaring father who forced him to work on the family farm. Lincoln had no formal Fantastic This book is three stories in one. We learn about President Lincoln’s early life. Also, Allan Pinkerton, a detective , hired to investigate a threat to a railroad, instead discovers a threat on Abraham Lincoln life. Also, we learn about white supremacists bent on preserving the southern way of life. Abraham Lincoln’s early life was a difficult one. His mother and sister both died when he was young. He had an uncaring father who forced him to work on the family farm. Lincoln had no formal education. He taught himself read and write. Needless to say he was very tall and awkward as a teenager. Yet, he overcame these obstacles to become one of the greatest presidents. Samuel M Fulton, a railroad tycoon, got word that white supremacists might sabotage his train and/or tracks to prevent Abraham Lincoln from leaving Baltimore and going to Washington D.C. and thus stopping his inauguration Fulton called Allen Pinkerton. Allen Pinkerton ran a successful detective agency. He was also an abolitionist. Pinkerton and his associates started digging for information. They traveled to Baltimore and Virginia to infiltrate various secret southern societies. Allen Pinkerton found something truly frightening. A secret society was planning to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. A barber named Cypriano Ferrandini was a local leader of Baltimore’s chapter of a secret society called Knights of the Golden Circle. Ferrandini’s plan was to murder Abraham Lincoln. Pinkerton’s agents were able to infiltrate the society and prevent the future president’s death. I have no doubt that many white Supremacist would gladly give their lives for their sick beliefs

  5. 5 out of 5

    Monnie

    True story: A college history class was so bad that I changed my major to avoid taking another one - and changed the course of my career (for the better, fortunately, but that's another story). Suffice it to say I'm not a history buff. So why in the world would I even consider reading a book like this? Good question, and three answers come to mind: First, I'm familiar with, and respect the work of, the authors; second is an enticing title and description. The third is perhaps happenstance; being True story: A college history class was so bad that I changed my major to avoid taking another one - and changed the course of my career (for the better, fortunately, but that's another story). Suffice it to say I'm not a history buff. So why in the world would I even consider reading a book like this? Good question, and three answers come to mind: First, I'm familiar with, and respect the work of, the authors; second is an enticing title and description. The third is perhaps happenstance; being mostly stuck at home to avoid catching the deadly COVID-19 and thus having time to read more books than usual, I simply needed a break from the mystery/thrillers that I favor almost to the exclusion of other genres. Now that I've finished this one, I've come to a couple of conclusions: First of all, this is a well-written, easy-to-read and informative book. It also made me realize that I should venture outside my reading comfort zone more often. Put another way, maybe - just maybe - I don't hate history nearly as much as I thought I did. As the subtitle suggests ("The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President - and Why It Failed"), there was a little-known plan to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before he could be inaugurated - in fact, as he traveled to Washington, D.C., for the event. It's no secret that many Americans, especially those in states that supported slavery, weren't happy with Lincoln's election. While at the time he didn't promise to abolish slavery outright, he was personally against the practice and said he would not support slavery in new western states that wanted to join the Union. Apparently, a few fringe groups - perhaps forerunners to today's Ku Klux Klan - decided that the best defense was a good offense. They would, they vowed, prevent the newly elected President from even getting a foot in the Oval Office door. The story reveals their plan and the subsequent investigation of it, led by noted detective Allan Pinkerton, as he and his team infiltrate the groups to learn specifics and, most important, develop a plan of their own to foil the instigators. Readers then follow Lincoln and his traveling companions as they almost literally inched their way toward the nation's capital city (transportation was, shall we say, a bit slower then than now; at one point, lacking a railroad bridge over a river, rail cars had to be disconnected and ferried across the river to be reattached on the other side). Stops in cities large and small, like Cincinnati and Westfield, New York - home of the little girl who, we all should recall, suggested to Lincoln that he grow a beard to improve his appearance - add a different and welcome dimension to the events of the days. Just as an aside, I must say I'm familiar with Westfield for a very different reason - it's the site of Barcelona Harbor (Lake Erie) and a unique lighthouse we've visited and photographed many times. More than that I'll leave for other readers, saying only that I enjoyed the book immensely; just the revelation that heretofore mostly boring history actually could be interesting was enough to make me happy. But I also learned a lot - just ask my husband, who endured my interruptions of, "Wow, honey, did you know..." until he gave up and started reading the book for himself (bless his heart). I should also note that substantial documentation and sources are included at the end of the story (helpful for those who might like to learn even more). All told, I highly recommend this book - even if you aren't a fan of history, it's likely you'll think of it in kinder terms after you read this. Kudos to the authors for undertaking such a meaningful project!

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    Brad Meltzer's second presidential conspiracy is a fast paced thriller with a difference. It actually happened! Had the assassination plot been successful would have had devastating results for the young, and future American nation. Find a comfortable reading spot, the book is impossible to put down. I look forward to the next book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shari

    Fantastic! I easily give this book 5 stars. The historical detail is amazing. Clearly Meltzer and Mensch did a lot of research—all well documented. The details are woven through a compelling narrative that presents the information not as a dry history book but as an intense political mystery thriller. I’ve read many history books, but the way Meltzer/Mencsh present theirs is both informative and exciting. A great read about a little known conspiracy to kill President-Elect Abraham Lincoln. Two f Fantastic! I easily give this book 5 stars. The historical detail is amazing. Clearly Meltzer and Mensch did a lot of research—all well documented. The details are woven through a compelling narrative that presents the information not as a dry history book but as an intense political mystery thriller. I’ve read many history books, but the way Meltzer/Mencsh present theirs is both informative and exciting. A great read about a little known conspiracy to kill President-Elect Abraham Lincoln. Two favorite quotes: "The hardest fights don’t reveal a winner—they reveal character." "America is not simply a country of ideas; we are a country of ideals. What makes America exceptional isn’t our weapons or our might. It’s our principles and our continuing to fight to live up to them. Faced with darkness, we must each reach for the light."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gary Parkes

    Another excellent read from Brad Meltzer! Highly recommend!

  9. 5 out of 5

    W. Whalin

    Read this Page Turner Bestselling author Brad Meltzer has combined forces again with historian Josh Mensch to create another riveting look at history about our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. I’ve been a reader and fan of the contemporary thrillers from Meltzer and have enjoyed the other history books when these authors join forces. It combines excellent storytelling with careful historical research—as documented in the pages of endnotes in these books. As you read, you learn remarkable insights Read this Page Turner Bestselling author Brad Meltzer has combined forces again with historian Josh Mensch to create another riveting look at history about our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. I’ve been a reader and fan of the contemporary thrillers from Meltzer and have enjoyed the other history books when these authors join forces. It combines excellent storytelling with careful historical research—as documented in the pages of endnotes in these books. As you read, you learn remarkable insights about Abraham Lincoln. Toward the end of the book, the well-known African American journalist Frederick Douglass meets President Lincoln at the White House. “As Douglass approached and was introduced to the President, Lincoln rose and extended his hand to welcome him. “At once I felt myself in the presence of an honest man,” Douglass wrote, “one whom I could love, honor, and trust without reserve or doubt.” (Page 357) I loved the writing and found the story engaging. I recommend THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY – particularly if you enjoy learning about some unusual history. W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diana Suddreth

    The Lincoln Conspiracy is a wonderful book, well-written, and fascinating. It is a glimpse into a piece of history I had never heard about before, much less read about, and the side story of the origins of the Pinkerton Agency was quite interesting as well. I was excited to learn about Kate Warne, the first female detective. I'd love to read a whole book just about her! The conspiracy against Lincoln is full of interesting characters and trying to get inside the heads of the Southern slave owners The Lincoln Conspiracy is a wonderful book, well-written, and fascinating. It is a glimpse into a piece of history I had never heard about before, much less read about, and the side story of the origins of the Pinkerton Agency was quite interesting as well. I was excited to learn about Kate Warne, the first female detective. I'd love to read a whole book just about her! The conspiracy against Lincoln is full of interesting characters and trying to get inside the heads of the Southern slave owners is never easy. It's hard to imagine that anyone would want to kill Lincoln, but that's just the benefit of history talking. The Lincoln Conspiracy was especially interesting to read in light of today's news. In many ways, the Black Lives Matter movement began with the abolitionists who had to make the point that slaves were people before they were able move forward with abolition or inclusion (such as allowing African Americans into the military). Reading about Lincoln's thoughts on this, which is why the Southerners hated him, is an interesting prologue to challenges that continue to this very day. Meltzer and Mensch write in an approachable way and their organization of the story kept me riveted and turning pages until the very end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    The Lincoln Conspiracy Brad Meltzer & John Mensch Narrated by Scott Brick In 1861 a few days before his inauguration as the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln escaped a bold assignation attempt by pro Southern white supremacists that wanted to stop the “Abolitionist Black President” from taking office. We all know what cemented President Lincoln’s place in history, his Presidency during the Civil War, his views on slavery and his assassination by Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth in April of 1865 The Lincoln Conspiracy Brad Meltzer & John Mensch Narrated by Scott Brick In 1861 a few days before his inauguration as the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln escaped a bold assignation attempt by pro Southern white supremacists that wanted to stop the “Abolitionist Black President” from taking office. We all know what cemented President Lincoln’s place in history, his Presidency during the Civil War, his views on slavery and his assassination by Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth in April of 1865 but what often gets lost in history is the 1861 Baltimore plot against his life and how it was stopped because of an odd series of events that Brad Meltzer brings to life in The Lincoln Conspiracy. The book shifts between 1856 and 1861 where the author goes into detail not only about the facts leading up to the attempted assassination but also the reasons behind Lincoln’s rise to fame and eventual election as President. He also brings to the reader’s attention the many individuals who helped investigate and stop the assassination attempt, like Lincoln’s inner circle and names like Chicagoan, Alan Pinkerton, America’s first private eye, his detective Kate Warne, America’s first female detective and other Pinkerton employees working undercover finding details about the plot. The audience also gets a close look at how devoted Lincoln and his family were to each other, the workings of Washington and State politics and the fledgling Republican Party. And if readers think today’s politicians are brutal they should have been witness to the actual beatings that often took place on the floor of the House and Senate. What makes this book exceptional is not only how he brilliantly and factually tells his story but also the way he invests his readers in the tale not only by adding hard facts but also the minutiae of human-interest facts like why Lincoln grew a beard. This is definitely a book that even fiction lovers will find hard to put down, the perfect read for historical lovers and those who love Civil War and Lincoln non-fiction. The narration by Scott Brick is the perfect way to enjoy this book, his clear calm voice is easy to understand and he puts just the right emotional emphasis in just the right places.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    The reader knows how the story ends - Lincoln will get to Washington, DC and will be inaugurated as the 16th President - but the developing tension is worked like a thriller. Admittedly, Meltzer is known for it. But this was a brutal age where violence was not only common but encouraged. The example of a senator basically pummeling another with a cane until the cane broke to pieces while his supporters prevent any of the other senators from intervening was beyond harsh. The majority of the chapt The reader knows how the story ends - Lincoln will get to Washington, DC and will be inaugurated as the 16th President - but the developing tension is worked like a thriller. Admittedly, Meltzer is known for it. But this was a brutal age where violence was not only common but encouraged. The example of a senator basically pummeling another with a cane until the cane broke to pieces while his supporters prevent any of the other senators from intervening was beyond harsh. The majority of the chapters switch between the three main characters - Lincoln himself, Allan Pinkerton (the private detective) and various Baltimore-based conspiracy groups loyal to the South and their beliefs. And their beliefs are further incited by the popular press - exaggeration and outright lies are seemingly encouraged. So when these groups feel that the U.S. government and the President-elect does not support their white supremacy pride and rights, they intend to sabotage Lincoln's train and kill him in order to basically create chaos, disorder and 'change the direction of nation.' Some of the interesting bits of information that Meltzer and Mensch drop in along the way - - - Pinkerton's Illinois home was a stop along the Underground Railroad. - Lincoln actually met with the little girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote to him recommending 'whiskers'. They met during Lincoln's inauguration train stop in her home of Westfield, New York. The book - whose chapters range from 3 - 12 pages each - isn't as long as the page count would infer. The plot ends with an epilogue of the actual history of Lincoln to the assassination in 1865 to imagining where his first Vice President Hamlin would have led the country. To civil war and freedom for the slaves or reconciliation of the southern states by capitulation. That all ends on page 363. Acknowledgements take 4 pages; photo credits another 3 pages. Notes from page 371-417, Bibliography from 419-423 and the index from 424-432. An interesting view into a aspect of Lincoln's presidential life that most people are completely unaware of. 2020-114

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    I am a huge fan of history in general, but Presidential history and more specifically Presidential assassination attempts are fascinating. When it was announced that this book was actually coming I was thrilled! The amount of details in this book painted a very clear picture of place, time and physical description of the parties involved and how the story unfolds. I found a new person to admire, Kate Warne, our first female detective! I also was quite surprised to see that for me, there was a lo I am a huge fan of history in general, but Presidential history and more specifically Presidential assassination attempts are fascinating. When it was announced that this book was actually coming I was thrilled! The amount of details in this book painted a very clear picture of place, time and physical description of the parties involved and how the story unfolds. I found a new person to admire, Kate Warne, our first female detective! I also was quite surprised to see that for me, there was a local connection in the storyline. The town Kate travels to, Jenkintown, PA is a neighboring town from where I live so how cool is that ! I would love to see if the building still stands. I know we all know how the story ends, but I really was kept in suspense, just waiting to see what happened next. These types of details and facts are why I love Brad Meltzer and now Josh Mensch. They are great storytellers, the research and details are what keep me reading their books. A great team together for sure, I look forward to see who is next Garfield,McKinley, FDR or Truman? Who knows may a non presidential assassination attempt?! I just know it will be another great read!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    "In those hardest moments, when darkness descends, we must reach for the light. As Lincoln himself said, 'Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong'" (363). What a perfect book to read the week leading up to July 4th and our celebration of Independence! This narrative nonfiction book is well researched and well written, and I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the pieces unveil themselves along with the problem solving it required to pu "In those hardest moments, when darkness descends, we must reach for the light. As Lincoln himself said, 'Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong'" (363). What a perfect book to read the week leading up to July 4th and our celebration of Independence! This narrative nonfiction book is well researched and well written, and I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the pieces unveil themselves along with the problem solving it required to put them together or pull them apart.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris (Norseman) Miller

    It read like a thriller, it was page turning/exciting, and I was reading history!! Congrats on a phenomenal piece of art Brad! Clearly worthy of the @nytimesbooks bestseller status! Detailed research enables great storytelling and Josh and Brad do a great job lining the story of the rise to the presidency while showing the past forms what you are as you grow! Phenomenal character development and historical timelines make it read like fiction but tell an important piece of history!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gwen Vangelisto

    I always love stories of Lincoln. The plan to kill him before he even was sworn in to office is shocking. This book is very detailed.... a long read. It is we’ll written but still difficult to get through all the minute items. It makes us ponder what our country would be today if it would have been successful... scary thought. There are great messages in here especially for current events happening.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ron Tenney

    I found this audiobook among the titles on my scribd.com account. I had heard something about it so I decided to give it a try. Scott Brick is still my favorite narrator. This is a fast-paced book with many short chapters. There are so many details that were unfamiliar to me, yet the overarching story of the election of Lincoln, the plot to take his life, and his secret passage through Baltimore were all familiar to me. I recommend this book if you are a fan of Lincoln, conspiracies, undercover I found this audiobook among the titles on my scribd.com account. I had heard something about it so I decided to give it a try. Scott Brick is still my favorite narrator. This is a fast-paced book with many short chapters. There are so many details that were unfamiliar to me, yet the overarching story of the election of Lincoln, the plot to take his life, and his secret passage through Baltimore were all familiar to me. I recommend this book if you are a fan of Lincoln, conspiracies, undercover detectives, and the mood of the country in 1861, on the eve is his first inauguration.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I read and enjoyed Brad Meltzer’s first book like this one, titled The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington. I liked this one even more. I love how Meltzer tells the story-very well written. Lincoln was a man I wish more Presidents were like-humble, kind, and honest. This book really speaks to what is happening right now in America. The last page of the book hit home for me-we should stand up for what’s wrong, and speak against injustices.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    FANTASTIC book! I devour any book about Lincoln, but adding conspiracy, espionage and a shocking plot to assassinate a president-elect made it hard to put down. Clearly well researched, well-written and it reads like a thriller. I noticed some interesting parallels to today - such as the media's treatment of a president they did not like (in the South). So good.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    What a great book! Immensely readable, super informative and inspiring too! Can’t sing it’s praises loudly enough. Well done, authors Meltzer and Mensch.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caitie

    I did like this book, but I felt as though many parts of it dragged on for too long. I get that the author needed to tie the various stories together, but the chapters were so short that once I’d get involved in one area then we were suddenly onto the next thing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ray Palen

    'There's a secret on this train.' Thus starts the Prologue to THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, a work of Historical Fiction that reads like a page-turning thriller. The most amazing thing about this book is that everything that happens inside these pages is absolutely true! Many parts of the story are reinforced with photos and images, some of which I never saw before in prior works involving Lincoln or the Civil War. It's almost like your American History Textbook became c 'There's a secret on this train.' Thus starts the Prologue to THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, a work of Historical Fiction that reads like a page-turning thriller. The most amazing thing about this book is that everything that happens inside these pages is absolutely true! Many parts of the story are reinforced with photos and images, some of which I never saw before in prior works involving Lincoln or the Civil War. It's almost like your American History Textbook became cool and could be read like a best-selling novel. To take a step back and put everything into perspective for a moment --- we as a nation, and world, are going through one of the most trying times in human history. From a national perspective, whether you are a supporter or not, it can be agreed that the American President is facing one of the biggest national issues in the history of our country. That brings me back to THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY. It is now mind-blowing when you think that many of the issues and events facing Abraham Lincoln, both as President-elect and then our 16th President, were up to that point unprecedented. Those who follow my reviews or know me personally are aware that I work at Walt Disney World. My favorite place there is EPCOT, specifically the World Showcase. I have viewed the American Adventure film at the American Pavilion countless times. The one part of that film which always sends chills down my spine is the picture of a solitary Abraham Lincoln, standing before a window in the White House on the eve of the Civil War. I don't think any photo, Spielberg film or text can fully portray the weight that this man had on his shoulders --- a weight that no President before or since was faced with. These facts are what made reading THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY that much more interesting for me. We all know what happened during the Civil War and the assassination of Lincoln that shortly followed, but many of us probably were not aware of the serious threat to Lincoln's life that he faced as he embarked on a train tour of the country while he was still President-elect. Like the opening line of the Prologue, it will all come down to the train and the skill and bravery of the few who stepped up to ensure that Abraham Lincoln would make his inauguration and be successfully sworn in as our 16th American President. There was actually a conspiracy that came out of the meetings of a secret group that called themselves the Knights Of the Golden Circle or KGC. This group was also a precursor for other hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. The 'citizens' who make-up this group were very much pro-slavery to the point of wanting a succession of pro-slavery states from the rest of the Union. In addition, the last thing they want to be faced with is a President who is anti-slavery, one who spoke well and could rally the spirit of much of the country behind that cause. As far as the KGC was concerned, Abraham Lincoln needed to die before this train tour ever got him to Washington D.C. THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY jumps back and forth in time and also gives a historical context of Lincoln's rise to the American Presidency. Even though much of this is information we have read in school textbooks or watched in various documentaries and film adaptations, in the hands of Meltzer & Mensch this is told in riveting fashion. The narrative is so fluid and interesting that you find yourself rooting for Lincoln like he was the heroic protagonist in a fantasy novel. The intent of the 'bad guys' is to have Lincoln killed in Baltimore. It will take the work of a number of people to protect him and see him safely through. Some of that group bearing this huge responsibility are people who had been political adversaries of Lincoln such as Stephen Douglas and William Henry Seward, former Governor of New York and the man Lincoln beat to become our 16th President. However, it will take more than just politicians to build support and protection for Lincoln. It will take the man who was later called the first American Detective --- William Pinkerton. Pinkerton and his Security company are given the case of protecting Abraham Lincoln during this train tour. We are also introduced to one of Pinkerton's first hires, the first female American Detective --- Kate Warne, who was also actively involved in this case. Yet having the conspiracy revealed and knowing that Lincoln does survive this ordeal does not take an ounce of tension out of the reading experience of THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY. We witness Lincoln's inauguration and the changing of the guard between he and his predecessor, President James Buchanan. Buchanan famously states to Lincoln: 'If you are as happy, my dear sir, on entering the White House as I am in leaving it, you are the happiest man in the country.' The Acknowledgements and Credits are almost as long as a novella and shows the depth of research Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch brought to this engaging and exhilarating read, THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY. Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    “There's a secret on this train.” Thus begins the Prologue to THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, a historical work that reads like a page-turning thriller. Many parts of the story are reinforced with photos and images, some of which I never saw before in other books about Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War. It's almost like your American history textbook became cool and could be read like a bestselling novel. To take a step back for a moment and put everything in perspective, we “There's a secret on this train.” Thus begins the Prologue to THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, a historical work that reads like a page-turning thriller. Many parts of the story are reinforced with photos and images, some of which I never saw before in other books about Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War. It's almost like your American history textbook became cool and could be read like a bestselling novel. To take a step back for a moment and put everything in perspective, we as a nation, and a world, are going through some of the most trying times we’ve ever had to endure. Whether or not you are a supporter, there’s no denying that President Trump is dealing with one of the biggest crises in our nation’s history. It is now mind-blowing to think that many of the issues and events facing Lincoln, both as President-elect and as our 16th President, were unprecedented up to that point. Those who follow my reviews or know me personally are aware that I work at Walt Disney World. My favorite place there is EPCOT, specifically the World Showcase. I have viewed the American Adventure film at the American Pavilion countless times. The one part that always sends chills down my spine is the picture of a solitary Lincoln, standing before a window in the White House on the eve of the Civil War. I don't think that any photo, Spielberg movie or text can fully portray the weight that this man had on his shoulders --- a weight that no President before or since had to face. These facts are what made reading THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY that much more fascinating for me. We all know what happened during the Civil War and the assassination of Lincoln that shortly followed, but many of us probably are not aware of the serious threat to his life as he embarked on a train tour of the country while still President-elect. Like the opening line of the Prologue, it all will come down to the train and the skill and bravery of the few who stepped up to ensure that he would make his inauguration and be successfully sworn in as our 16th President. There was actually a conspiracy that came out of the meetings of a secret group that called themselves the Knights of the Golden Circle, or KGC, a precursor to other hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. These “citizens” were very much pro-slavery to the point of wanting a secession of pro-slavery states from the rest of the Union. The last thing they wanted to be faced with was a President who was anti-slavery, spoke well and could rally the spirit of much of the country behind that cause. As far as the KGC was concerned, Lincoln needed to die before the train ever got him to Washington, D.C. THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY jumps back and forth in time and gives readers a historical context to Lincoln's rise to the presidency. Even though we have found out much of this information through school textbooks or various documentaries and film adaptations, in the hands of Meltzer and Mensch, it is told in riveting fashion. The narrative is so fluid and interesting that you find yourself rooting for Lincoln like he was the heroic protagonist in a fantasy novel. The intent of the “bad guys” is to have him killed in Baltimore. It will take the work of a number of people to protect him and see him safely through. Some of those bearing this huge responsibility had been political adversaries, such as Stephen Douglas and William Henry Seward, former Governor of New York and the man Lincoln beat to become President. Allan Pinkerton, the first American detective, and his security company are also brought on, along with Kate Warne, the first female detective. Having the conspiracy revealed and knowing that Lincoln does survive this ordeal does not take an ounce of tension out of the reading experience. We witness Lincoln's inauguration and the changing of the guard between him and his predecessor, James Buchanan. Buchanan famously states to Lincoln: “If you are as happy, my dear sir, on entering the White House as I am in leaving it, you are the happiest man in the country.” The Acknowledgements and Credits are almost as long as a novella and show the depth of research that Meltzer and Mensch brought to this engaging and exhilarating book. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebel

    In the spring of 2012, I attended a conference at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. As I tried to escape the mind numbing presentations, I ventured out to enjoy the cool weather near the historic harbor. Mere steps away from the hotel, I discovered the Baltimore Civil War Museum at President Street Station. It was here that I first heard about "Lincoln’s secret passage through the station under pre-dawn stars." The story intrigued me, but I was quickly distracted by the account of the first blo In the spring of 2012, I attended a conference at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. As I tried to escape the mind numbing presentations, I ventured out to enjoy the cool weather near the historic harbor. Mere steps away from the hotel, I discovered the Baltimore Civil War Museum at President Street Station. It was here that I first heard about "Lincoln’s secret passage through the station under pre-dawn stars." The story intrigued me, but I was quickly distracted by the account of the first bloodshed of the Civil War in the streets of Baltimore. I did not connect the two stories, and soon left the museum to explore other parts of the Charm City. I am ever so grateful that Brad Meltzer gave life to this little known story of our country's history. This saga is filled with so many close calls and "what ifs," it reads like a suspense novel. This story is splendidly researched by perhaps the best historical conspiracy author in the business. Don't let the word "Conspiracy" fool you, this is not some wildly hatched story based on flimsy rumors, this is a deeply researched account of a group's effort to conspire to kill the 16th President before he even had the chance to take office. Meltzer even balances the conclusion by presenting the opposing arguments against Pinkerton’s sometimes wavering accounts. I began reading this book about a week before George Floyd was murdered. I'm not the quickest reader, so the story of Lincoln's rise to the office and the deep-rooted hatred of blacks pervasive in many parts of our country at the time, particularly the slave holding states, formed an interesting backdrop to the civil unrest and racial unfairness that continues to plague our communities to this very day. Meltzer did an outstanding job of painting the full portrait of the mood of the country leading up to Lincoln’s election and inauguration. For those who believe in a higher power, it’s hard not to imagine a divine hand in selecting the right man for such an important time in history. But it’s also hard to imagine the deaths of over 600,000 men and boys being part of that divine plan. And we see today that, as important as the Emancipation Proclamation is, it did not end the suffering and persecution of blacks in the United States. This is an outstanding read, and I highly recommend it for everyone. **As an aside, I have entered countless drawings for free books in Goodreads, and THIS is the first book I have EVER WON. Thank you to Flatiron Books for the great book!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    TITLE: The Lincoln Conspiracy AUTHOR(s): Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch GENRE: History PAGES: 455 FORMAT: E-reader Let’s jump right in on this one. Everyone knows the story of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. How many of us know about the attempt made on his way to the inauguration in 1861? Anyone? After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, several events launched into motion. South Carolina started the mad dash for southern states to secede from the union. Several secret societies in a TITLE: The Lincoln Conspiracy AUTHOR(s): Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch GENRE: History PAGES: 455 FORMAT: E-reader Let’s jump right in on this one. Everyone knows the story of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. How many of us know about the attempt made on his way to the inauguration in 1861? Anyone? After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, several events launched into motion. South Carolina started the mad dash for southern states to secede from the union. Several secret societies in and around Baltimore, Maryland plotted to assassinate the newly elected president on his way to the inauguration. And Jefferson Davis was elected president of the Confederate States of America. All of this and more can be found in the pages of Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch’s The Lincoln Conspiracy. The true magic of this book is it IS history, but it reads like a thriller. This statement should not be taken lightly. If all history read this way, history would be a more popular subject. The story is told with such love and precision that you are right there in the mix of things, feeling what Allan Pinkerton and his crew felt as they worked to stop an assassination attempt, what Lincoln felt as the country was separating before he even took office, As each page is turned, so is the tension ratcheted up and you cannot help but want to see what happens next. This is not the kind of book where you rest on your laurels knowing what happens later on because the fact remains that history was very nearly altered before Lincoln even took office. Then the follow up, events that happened after the inauguration and beyond. We know that the American Civil War started during Lincoln’s presidency. How many of us realize it started around a month after the inauguration? This is history that is meant to be lived, experienced, enjoyed, and in the end become a part of the reader. 5 very enthusiastic bookmarks out of 5.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Al

    I have to admit, I still think of Meltzer as a 'comics guy', but his novels have sold well, and now, he is found a niche as some sort of hybrid Dan Brown and Jesse Ventura- as a mainstay on the History Channel talking conspiracy and history- though he seems like he will have a longer shelf-life than either of those two. The hip fad in Nonfiction is finding lost tidbits in History and this book is marketed in such a way that it resembles recent works by Bill O'Reilly and Brian Kilmeade, et al. In I have to admit, I still think of Meltzer as a 'comics guy', but his novels have sold well, and now, he is found a niche as some sort of hybrid Dan Brown and Jesse Ventura- as a mainstay on the History Channel talking conspiracy and history- though he seems like he will have a longer shelf-life than either of those two. The hip fad in Nonfiction is finding lost tidbits in History and this book is marketed in such a way that it resembles recent works by Bill O'Reilly and Brian Kilmeade, et al. Inside, it probably closer resembles Swanson's Manhunt (maybe even Larson's Devil in the White City)- it is nonfiction written as action book. In which case, it's hard to argue against it. (I am not sure how unknown it is. I read Pitch's great book "They have killed Papa dead " and it covers it, though there, it feels oddly appended to a book about Lincoln's Assassination.) This is a page turner. Meltzer works in Lincoln, Pinkerton, Frederick Douglass, Jefferson Davis along with the plot, to kill the President-elect, and the start of the Civil War. I doubt anything in here qualifies as 'new', but it does have a bibliography that's a who's who in Lincoln and Civil War scholars (Burlingame, Holzer, Goodwin, McPherson, Foote to name a few) as well as drawing from the actual writings of Lincoln, Pinkerton and Douglass. No doubt, Meltzer took from all of these histories to craft a solid book. Also, of note, it features Kate Warne, who is the first female detective. I tend to think almost everyone would like this book. It marks the checkmarks for me- whether you don't know much about Lincoln, or like me, you have a 'Lincoln shelf'. It never drags, though it is full of facts. You speed through the pages, but it will likely take more than one setting to finish it off. Anyway, a fantastic piece of history, one we will never know the true details, but the major details are true, and Meltzer tells a great story that you likely don't know

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard West

    A number of years ago Brad Meltzer established himself as a novelist, his fiction taking place for the most in the Halls of Congress and the bowels (some call it a swamp) of Washington, D.C. At some point, he discovered he liked writing about American history and turned to that, cranking out countless children's books about American historical characters and this one, his second concerning little known, and if known, little remembered incidents in American history. This, like his previous effort, A number of years ago Brad Meltzer established himself as a novelist, his fiction taking place for the most in the Halls of Congress and the bowels (some call it a swamp) of Washington, D.C. At some point, he discovered he liked writing about American history and turned to that, cranking out countless children's books about American historical characters and this one, his second concerning little known, and if known, little remembered incidents in American history. This, like his previous effort, takes one of those incidents and goes into meticulous, easy-to-read detail about it. This one centers around an assassination plot to take out Abe Lincoln before he's had a chance to be inaugurated as President. Everything you might expect is there - secret societies, conspiracies, a plot by various nefarious figures to commit the dastardly deed in Baltimore - everything you would find in a novel. The only difference is, this is true. Meltzer and co-author Josh Mensch lead the reader through the plot via meticulous research and as the book progresses, you wonder, what if they had succeeded? How would the history of this country have been different? Would the Confederacy have won the Civil War? Obviously, Lincoln, largely inexperienced in such things, was the right person at the right time, guiding the Union through it's most tumultuous time to the point where most people agree he was this country's greatest President. Absolutely fascinating, interesting, it's a page-turner and will keep your interest throughout. Recommended for history buffs, Civil War buffs and of course, political junkies and Lincoln fans.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I knew like most, of course, about Abraham Lincoln and his assassination, but I didn't know about this previous/original plan to assassinate him so this was very enlightening. I enjoyed how well this was written and narrated. It was a lot like a fast-paced suspense/thriller read and I've never enjoyed listening or learning about history quite as much as with this. It was a lot more intriguing and enticing to me listening to this than other history stories that are usually a bit more dry and borin I knew like most, of course, about Abraham Lincoln and his assassination, but I didn't know about this previous/original plan to assassinate him so this was very enlightening. I enjoyed how well this was written and narrated. It was a lot like a fast-paced suspense/thriller read and I've never enjoyed listening or learning about history quite as much as with this. It was a lot more intriguing and enticing to me listening to this than other history stories that are usually a bit more dry and boring sometimes. I loved hearing about and learning more about the secret society and the undercover detectives, Pinkerton, and his lady detectives. I've heard about Pinkerton before but didn't realize his role in stopping this assassination attempt on Lincoln so it was very illuminating to me to learn about this incident from history. This also makes me a little more curious about Pinkerton and the lady detectives as well as Lincoln because the way they described and talked about them made them more real. They sound much more real with their engaging personalities and senses of humor and everything. It brought more of history to life when listening to this story for me and it was fabulous. If you're interested in Lincoln, knowing more about him, this assassination attempt or anything with this bit of history then take a listen to this because this audiobook, the story, and the narration are amazing. I received an advanced listening copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    This historical thriller reads like fiction, except it is not. The Lincoln Conspiracy is definitely a work of non-fiction that grips the reader from the first short chapter or two and plunges them headlong into a complex conspiracy to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln in March 1861, just before he's sworn in as the 16th president. Meltzer and Mensch provide all the clues, the context, and the players, and then let history unfold. There's no foreshadowing, the timeline is fairly straigh This historical thriller reads like fiction, except it is not. The Lincoln Conspiracy is definitely a work of non-fiction that grips the reader from the first short chapter or two and plunges them headlong into a complex conspiracy to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln in March 1861, just before he's sworn in as the 16th president. Meltzer and Mensch provide all the clues, the context, and the players, and then let history unfold. There's no foreshadowing, the timeline is fairly straightforward with a few digressions for historical background, and then, there's the attempted murder. Meltzer and Mensch use papers in the National Archives, at the Library of Congress, and the various Lincoln libraries. These provide the backbone of this book. When you finish, you'll know more about the politics that leads up to the Civil War, the social networks of the north and south, and the underlying reasons for the war that tears this country apart. More than that, you'll come away with a better understanding of the values and strength of Lincoln. The Pinkertons play an integral role in this historical event, a role that's dramatically different from how its company is viewed beginning in the 1880s. Dive into this headfirst, read the notes, and mine the bibliography. If you are a fan of Meltzer's historical fiction / thrillers, you won't be disappointed. The same can be said of history buffs.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean Elliot

    Another book brought to me thanks to NPR, and another winner. The story was so compelling as summarized on the show I just had to read it, and I couldn't wait for my library to return to lending. I'm not a huge Civil War buff per se, but history is definitely my thing, and little known stories with epic outcomes are great to find. The first plot to assassinate Lincoln, before he was even inaugurated, was not unknown, but it was, thanks to being unsuccessful, a small enough footnote to be left ou Another book brought to me thanks to NPR, and another winner. The story was so compelling as summarized on the show I just had to read it, and I couldn't wait for my library to return to lending. I'm not a huge Civil War buff per se, but history is definitely my thing, and little known stories with epic outcomes are great to find. The first plot to assassinate Lincoln, before he was even inaugurated, was not unknown, but it was, thanks to being unsuccessful, a small enough footnote to be left out of most history books. The story brings together the tale of the President-Elect's travel from Illinois to D.C. for his inauguration and the work of many parties, most notably the famous private investigator Allan Pinkerton (honestly, if you hadn't hear of him, look him up), to foil the plot to ambush Lincoln as he transited through Baltimore. Meltzer make a gripping potboiler of a thriller out of the story, bouncing back and forth from the mundane story of Lincoln's political story and preparations to assume the presidency to the secret white supremacists societies of Baltimore to the investigation by the first private investigator. The story of Lincoln is, of course, mostly known and Meltzer does a great job of building the suspense, getting into the weeds of the preparations, while unspooling the plot so compellingly.

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