Monday, November 23, 2015

NONFICTION MONDAY: Lincoln's Spymaster by Samantha Seiple


ABOUT THE BOOK

From Samantha Seiple, the award winning author of Ghosts in the Fog, comes the first book for young adults to tell the story of Allan Pinkerton, America's first private eye.

Lincoln's Spymaster tells the dangerous and action-packed adventures of Allan Pinkerton, America's first private eye and Lincoln's most trusted spymaster.

Pinkerton was just a poor immigrant barrel-maker in Illinois when he stumbled across his first case just miles from his home. His reputation grew and people began approaching Pinkerton with their cases, leading him to open the first-of-its-kind private detective agency. Pinkerton assembled a team of undercover agents, and together they caught train robbers, counterfeiters, and other outlaws. Soon these outlaws, including Jesse James, became their nemeses. Danger didn't stop the agency! The team even uncovered and stopped an assassination plot against president-elect Abraham Lincoln! Seeing firsthand the value of Pinkerton's service, Lincoln funded Pinkerton's spy network, a precursor to the Secret Service. Allan Pinkerton is known as the father of modern day espionage, and this is the first book for young adults to tell his story!

REVIEW

Reading this book was very enlightening.  Having read quite a bit about the Civil War, I'd heard of Allan Pinkerton, but after reading this it's clear that what I knew before was only the tip of the iceberg.  Seiple provides a fascinating account of Pinkerton's move into the detective business and the impact he had on the new field.  I had no idea that Pinkerton also helped start the secret service in his efforts to protect both Lincoln and other high profile officials including General McClellan.  The man's determination and skill made him a formidable investigator and as a result there were numerous attempts on his life.  But it never stopped him from continuing his work.  I loved reading about his emphasis on honor and his hiring women to do work that many would have considered inappropriate.  I found the last half of the book particularly compelling as I read about the attempts on Pinkerton's life and his agency's working to capture several famous outlaw gangs including the James-Younger gang.  This is the kind of narrative nonfiction that works so well with the common core and it's a fascinating read that middle grade and YA readers may very well pick up on their own as well.  Highly recommended.

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