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The Hour of Peril

The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

by Daniel Stashower

The Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashower X
The Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashower
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There are currently 23 member reviews
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  • Barbara E. (Rockville, MD)
    The Hour of Peril
    This book was a fascinating and compelling read. Although I know that Lincoln made it safely to Washington for his first inauguration, this book kept me on the edge of my seat with the unfolding details of the Baltimore assassination plot and the attempts to insure the safety of the president-elect. The contrast between the level of protection for our leaders today and the accessibility and security risks to Lincoln are startling. One often forgets how dangerous and arduous the train journey from Springfield to Washington was in 1861. The author brings all of these vividly to life.

    I found Pinkerton's biography to be particularly interesting and found his ideas about detection and his use of women as detectives to be particularly fascinating and truly ahead of his time.The personalities, virtues, flaws and rivalries of all the men and women in this book come vividly to life.

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Lincoln, American history, and detective stories.
  • Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)
    An informative but slow read
    "The Hour of Peril" reminded me a lot of Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City". It takes an interesting subject and tells it is such a didactic manner as to make it difficult to slog your way through. I persevered and learned a lot about Allan Pinkerton and the early science of investigation. The reviewer quoted on the front of the book called it a "riveting" book and a "race-against-the-clock thriller." I don't think he actually read the book.
  • Jan C. (San Antonio, Texas)
    A plot revealed from the inside!
    This book was very very detailed. Knowing the outcome already it was not suspenseful even though the events could have led to the reader feeling suspense. It took me a longer time to read than usual because of the detailed accounts that were too frequently repeated. A timeline in the book might have helped the reader and a map showing the route of the train trip would have been helpful. What I did like was the glimpses it provided into Lincoln's character. The intimate details of the detectives activities made the story come alive. Learning about Pinkerton was interesting.
  • Rosemary T. (San Antonio, TX)
    The Hour of Peril
    At first I did not think I was going to like this book when so much was devoted to Pinkerton's background. However, once the story progressed to the second part I was totally engrossed. It is surprising to me that throughout high school and college I never heard that an attempt had been made on Lincoln's life before his first inauguration. This book is definitely worth reading whether you are a history buff or not.
  • Vy A. (Phoenix, AZ)
    Hour of Peril
    Anyone interested in American history, as well as President Lincoln scholars, will appreciate this very detailed account of "the first time they tried to kill Lincoln". Peril tells of Lincoln's thirteen- day voyage from Springfield, Illinois to Washington in the spring of 1861 and explores Alan Pinkerton's belief that there was a conspiracy to kill. I found it to be more of an account of Pinkerton's role in history (founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency) perhaps than Lincoln, but still very fascinating. The controversy between Pinkerton and Ward Lamon (Lincoln's friend and self-appointed bodyguard) who did not believe there was such a plot, is also quite elaborate. Although we know that Lincoln arrived safely to Washington, the author manages to build tension and suspense, as well as paint vivid scenes of life in that time period. A good read.
  • Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA)
    Hour of Peril
    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.
  • Carol C. (Troy, NY)
    Hour of Peril
    "Hour of Peril" focuses on Abraham Lincoln's journey to Washington prior to his inauguration, and the danger he faced from those plotting to assassinate him in Baltimore; it's likely to appeal most to those interested in history and/or the Civil War.

    The supporting cast is varied and fascinating, and includes detectives, spies, politicians of various ilk, soldiers, the famous Alan Pinkerton and Mr Lincoln, who - while the subject of the plot - takes a back seat to those working to see him safely to Washington. The technical, political and social details surrounding the journey to Washington draw from many sources and provide an interesting glimpse into the turmoil of the day.

    A bit more structure/focus in the editing would be welcome, as there is little sense of suspense or how close the plotters came - or didn't - to succeeding. That said, "Hour of Peril" is an enjoyable read for those interested in 19th Century American history.


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