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Extended Audio Sample The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War, by Daniel Stashower Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel Stashower Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a “clear and fully-matured” threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of thirteen days the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart the plot, assisted by a captivating young widow named Kate Warne, America’s first female private eye.

As Lincoln’s train rolled inexorably toward “the seat of danger,” Pinkerton struggled to unravel the ever-changing details of the murder plot, even as he contended with the intractability of Lincoln and his advisors, who refused to believe that the danger was real. With time running out Pinkerton took a desperate gamble, staking Lincoln’s life—and the future of the nation—on a “perilous feint” that seemed to offer the only chance that Lincoln would survive to become president. Shrouded in secrecy—and, later, mired in controversy—the story of the “Baltimore Plot” is one of the great untold tales of the Civil War era, and with The Hour of Peril Stashower has crafted a spellbinding historical narrative with the pace and urgency of a race-against-the-clock thriller.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The world’s most famous private eye saves Abraham Lincoln’s life—and perhaps the Union itself? Sounds like fiction, but in Daniel Stashower’s riveting new book, it’s all true. It’s history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller.”

    Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “Reads like a first-class detective novel…Pinkerton’s tireless energy prevented a tragedy that might have destroyed the republic.”

    James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “Swift and detailed…This account of the little known Baltimore-based plot to assassinate Lincoln before his March 4, 1861, inaugural hurtles across a landscape of conspirators, heroes. and politicos in hotel suites, ladies’ parlors, and railway depots along Lincoln’s train route from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington…We can be grateful…that Old Abe survived the first attempt on his life. And now we have the chance to relish the story of the clever and determined characters who were dedicated to his safety and to the cause for which, on April 15, 1865, he would ultimately surrender his life.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Stashower, a novelist, smartly uses the train’s journey as a narrative arc, allowing him to tell the broader story of prewar America and providing insight into the traits that would make Lincoln such a great leader—his sense of humor, calm demeanor, and courage. The chugging train also injects the book with momentum and suspense as it nears Baltimore…A key goal for an author of history is to persuade his or her readers to forget what they know and to relive the world as it unfolded for characters of the time—with outcomes uncertain. For the most part, Stashower accomplishes that objective, and readers will be cheering for Pinkerton and pleading for Lincoln to heed the private eye’s advice.”

    Washington Post

  • “Some of President Lincoln’s associates and some historians have questioned if the supposed conspiracy to assassinate him upon his arrival in Baltimore was serious. Stashower has no doubt that the plot was real, and he has written a convincing and well-researched chronicle of it and the successful effort to thwart it. His story has the necessary elements of a successful historical thriller…The story has a built-in urgency and excitement. The detective, the soon-to-be-famous Allan Pinkerton, is a relentless and clever sleuth, and the chief conspirator, a Baltimore barber named Ferrandini, is a formidable adversary. Despite some slow moments, the book generally succeeds as both a historical inquiry and a detective story.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Stashower explains how Allan Pinkerton, a temperamental Scottish cooper turned ‘fierce and incorruptible lawman’ and founder of the Pinkerton Agency, sought to infiltrate and obfuscate a murderous group led by Cypriano Ferrandini, an outspoken Italian barber in Baltimore. Interwoven with the tale of Pinkerton and company’s efforts to foil what would become known as the Baltimore Plot, Stashower offers a rich portrait of a resolute but weary Lincoln as he makes his way, both politically and physically, to the White House. As everyone knows, he arrived without incident, but while he saved his skin, he lost some respect for stealing into the capital ‘like a thief in the night,’ as one newspaper put it. The book starts out slowly, but once Stashower lets the Pinkerton operatives loose, their race against time as Lincoln’s train speeds toward Maryland makes for an enthralling page-turner that is sure to please true-crime, thriller, and history fans.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The tale builds methodically before shifting into dramatic mode as Pinkerton, in fewer than two weeks, uncovers and quashes the would-be assassins’ designs, assisted by agent Kate Warne, the leader of Pinkerton’s female undercover unit. Verdict: Stashower’s character-driven narrative and lively writing style reveal the finely honed skills of an accomplished mystery writer. Recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • Selected for the February 2013 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A Washington Post Notable Book of 2013 in Nonfiction
  • A 2014 Audie Award Finalist for Best History Narration
  • Winner of the 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime
  • Winner of the 2014 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction
  • A 2014 Macavity Award Nominee
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