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

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  638 ratings  ·  145 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
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Minotaur Books
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Tony
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,
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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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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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
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
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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 ...more
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
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Eileen Granfors
Although "The Hour of Peril" is blurbed by Harlan Cohen as an exciting read, it is instead the pain-staking work of detectives. Those in police work know that most of the desk work is pure drudgery. So it is with "The Hour of Peril." While the book purports to be an amazing story of nail-biting suspense, it is far more the details of the Pinkerton agency of detectives who fall upon the secret plot to assassinate Lincoln in Baltimore. Those with a deep interest in Lincoln or in police investigati ...more
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
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
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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
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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 ...more
Heep
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
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
Alicia
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
Bebe
Mar 26, 2014 Bebe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
As a reader of historical books, I was fascinated to read about the plot to murder Lincoln even before he left Springfield for his inauguration. It was something I had never heard about previously and my curiosity was pleasantly piqued. I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway and waited eagerly for it to arrive.

The reader already knows the ending ~ you are aware that Lincoln makes it to Washington to be President. What you don't know is all the intrigue and personalities involved behind the
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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
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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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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
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Brian
I won this book as part of Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest review.

I have often wondered about the truth of the alleged plot to assassinate Lincoln in Baltimore before his inauguration. Was the conspiracy exaggerated to stroke the egos of those who prevented it or would it have actually happened had Lincoln stayed the course of his plans? Either way, this would make a great movie!

Stashower does a great job of laying out all the converging stories, from Pinkerton's history
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Andrew
This book describes Lincoln's trip to Washington prior to inauguration and the threats against his life. The story is based on detective Allan Pinkerton's case notes. Pinkerton was hired to investigate threats against the railroad line going into Baltimore, and he found a threat against Lincoln.

The story is fast-paced and interesting. The only drawback is that a lot of writing on this event happened after Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. It sounds like Pinkerton's case files are the only writin
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Dale
A Review of the Audiobook

Published by Macmillan Audio in 2013.
Read by Edoardo Ballerini
Duration: 13 hours, 45 minutes


Most history books mention the plot to kill Lincoln as he was travelling to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration in February of 1861 with just a sentence or two, if they mention it at all. This is unfortunate because a more in-depth look can give the reader a real feel for the fluidity of the situation when Lincoln took office.

Daniel Stashower's The Hour of Peril begins with a s
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Victor Gentile
Daniel Stashower in his new book, “The Hour of Peril” published by Minotaur Books gives us The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War.

From the inside jacket cover: 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 the presidency, Abraham Li
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Randy Daugherty
Abraham Lincoln is president elect and soon to take office, but many are not happy with the nations choice to lead.
There is a plot to assassinate Mr. Lincoln as he passes through Baltimore Maryland. Alan Pinkerton the nations top law official is out to uncover and expose the conspirators along with the help of Kate Warne,a young widow and the nations first female detective.What transpires is a race to expose those involved and to protect Mr. Lincoln as he travels to become President of the Unite
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Beth
Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-nominated film Lincoln has created renewed interest in our 16th President, and author Daniel Stashower’s The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln before the Civil War brings to light a little-known episode from Lincoln’s life. In 1861, President-elect Lincoln made the 13-day journey from Illinois to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., by train, stopping to make appearances along the way. The nation was on the brink of civil war, and emotions ran hig ...more
Steven Howes
This is a well-written and thoroughly researched book. However, as with many historical works, I found it to be a challenging read as it contains abundant detail and I found myself having to backtrack on occasion to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Anyone who has studied American history even superficially knows a little bit about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, its aftermath, and its long-lasting impacts on our country. Even prior to Lincoln's election and first inauguration, the issue of
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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
More about Daniel Stashower...
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