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

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  797 ratings  ·  168 reviews
“It's history that reads like a race-against-the-clockthriller.” Harlan Coben

Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar award–winning 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 THE HOUR OF PERIL.

In February of 1861, just days before he assumed
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Minotaur Books
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THE HOUR OF PERIL: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War. (2013). Daniel Stashower. ***.
Sometimes an author can provide too much information in his effort to make sure the reader realizes what is going on. The problem, however, is that the author has had years to digest this information, while we scan a page in a few minutes or less. I found myself skimming large parts of this book by Mr. Stashower because of information overload. It is obviously well researched and documented,
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
Nov 13, 2015 SeaShore rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Lisa Shawn
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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
Terry Sprouse
My main goal in reading “The Hour of Peril” was to get a clear picture of how Lincoln responded to this crises (quotes and anecdotes) and I was not completely disappointed, although the main focus of the book was on detective Alan Pinkerton. Here are five Lincoln gems that I mined from the text that satisfied my longing.

1) The “Slow Horse” Story

At a whistle stop in Thornton, Indiana, Lincoln’s train came to the rear platform of the train, as was his normal procedure, and apologized for declining
John Frazier
As difficult as it must be to create suspense toward an outcome all of us know beforehand, author Daniel Stashower has penned a compelling and well-researched thriller in "The Hour of Peril." (More accurately, it covers closer to two weeks of peril, but how long can one really expect to be held in suspense?)

In a way, this reminded me of "The Devil in the White City" (Erik Larson's thriller about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago that introduced us to the Ferris wheel, the fair's architect and a s
Michael Keren
Jan 11, 2015 Michael Keren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History lovers, Lincoln fans, Civil war buffs, and residents of Maryland.
Shelves: bok-club
A gripping and fascinating read. A telling account of an episode in history that was new to me. (spoiler alert) On the eve of his inauguration Abraham lincoln's life is imperiled by an assassination plot in the city of Baltimore through which he must pass on his way to washington from Illinois. In recounting the tale Stashower provides telling insight into the mood of the nation on the eve of the Civil War, the process of the dissolution of the Union and the life of Pinkerton (Pinkerton Detectiv ...more
I found this book more interesting for its detailed description if the prevailing sentiments of Americans, including Lincoln and many other prominent figues, in the period immediately before the Civil War. It also provides a good biographical sketch of Allan Pinkerton, one of the first private investigators. The truth of the Baltimore plot against Lincoln is not resolved by this book, and probably never will be. The fact of strong ill-feelings that extended to a desire to kill the president-elec ...more
Paul Lunger
Daniel Stashower's "The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War" tells the tale of what would become known as the Baltimore Plot which was a plan by people in the city of Baltimore to ensure that Abraham Lincoln never took the oath of office on March 4, 1861. The book as well is a biography of sorts of Allan Pinkerton as Stashower explains his past as well as what lead to the investigation of the plot. From Lincoln's side, we the reader get a chance to follow the in ...more
Tim Mcclain
Here is the plot to kill Lincoln you never heard about. It also is the story of Allan Pinkerton, the former barrel maker who became a detective, helped slaves escape from the south, is behind the phrase "private eye" by virtue of his logo of an unblinking eye, and who helped save the president from assassination before he had a chance to take office.

Readers get a mix of how the west was won, at least when it came to protecting rail roads, and how a 2,000 mile pre-innaugural train ride had to, a
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.
Matt Holsen
I found this book to have a much broader focus than anticipated. I presumed it would be center on Lincoln, but take more of a moment-by-moment approach of the event in question (of which I knew little). Instead, there is a focus on Lincoln's post-election / pre-inauguration time. More surprisingly, there is a detailed background of Allen Pinkerton. He is someone who I had not anticipated would even be involved in this plot, let alone so centrally. I find him (along with J. Edgar Hoover) to be fa ...more
This was a book I read for my History Book Club. I was prepared to really enjoy this book, but I'm afraid I can only rate it "OK". There were many interesting facts discussed in this book (the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States and his journey to Washington, DC for his inauguration, the Republican nomination process, the Allen Pinkerton detective agency and the first female detective, the secession of Virginia and Maryland, etc.), but any one of these topics would have ...more
Kinda of a melodramatic title for this extremely well-written book, which is more or less a mini-biography of Allan Pinkerton. Pinkerton is a very interesting historical character and the highlight of his career is considered to be the weeks he spent detecting and foiling a plot hatched in Baltimore to assassinate President-elect Lincoln. This book is the perfect length, provides interesting tidbits like a description of the world's first female private detective (Kate Warne) and informative des ...more
I had such high hopes for this book. The problem was certainly not in all the research that the author did to write the story, the problem was how the author told the story. This was one of the most plodding books that I have ever read. The story never grabbed hold of me. The detail after tiny detail that the author explored left me wondering if there was any real story to be told, or was he just bombarding us with one fact after another? The book describes itself as "In the tradition of James S ...more
Emily Ventura
The underlying story was very interesting and I really enjoyed adding this to my history knowledge bank. I was thinking that the book would be centered around Lincoln when in fact much of its focus was on detective Allan Pinkerton, which turned out to be very enjoyable. The downside was the story dragged a bit and offered a few too many straight forward facts, perhaps in trying to keep authenticity. I can understand the desire to ensure the reader understand exactly what happened and where the i ...more
Robert Jones
This was a lot of run to read. It nearly serves as a biography of Allan Pinkerton, as it tells the story of Lincoln's journey to his inauguration and the assassination attempt foiled by the famous detective. It's a small story, but an interesting one, and well told. It builds towards a particularly satisfying climax, but much of the first half feels a little bloated with gratuitous information. Almost every chapter ends with a ham-fisted attempt at making the story suspenseful, which quite frank ...more
Jennifer W
The men, the myths, the legends.

Let's start with Lincoln. Some years back I read a very dry book about Abe's rise in American hearts and minds to Godlike status. I was kind of bummed by that book because Lincoln is a mythical being in American history. He was stoic, he was witty, he was eloquent. I've been to Washington DC several times now, and every time I visit the Lincoln Memorial and read the gigantic engraved copies of the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address, I cry. Cry, da
Last Ranger

The Midnight Special:

What a page turner! Daniel Stashower's fast moving book covers a little known moment in America's past and is just what I look for in reading history: entertainment. As well as Lincoln's first brush with a political assassin, The Hour of Peril gives you a close up look at Allan Pinkerton's life and the birth of of his famous detective agency. From "rebel-rouser" in Scotland to a trouble-shooting handy man in rural America Pinkerton was quick to use his wits, as well as his f
Brad Hodges

Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just after the Civil War concluded, in 1865. Lesser known is that there was a credible plot to kill him before he even became president, on his way to Washington. Just how serious that plot may or may not have been, and the steps taken to protect him, are the subject of Daniel Stashower's book The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War.

There was no Secret Service in those days. Candidates and even presidents coul
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Daniel Stashower is the author of The Boy Genius and The Mogul as well as the Edgar Award-winning Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. He is also the author of five mystery novels, the most recent of which is The Houdini Specter. Stashower is a recipient of The Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship in Detective and Crime Fiction Writing, and spent a year as a Visiting Fellow at Wadham ...more
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