Looking for a way to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday by actually thinking about the 16th POTUS? Don’t get me wrong, enjoying the holiday as a day off is a nice perk. But by reading about this man, and learning a lot at the same time, I will be able to enjoy the BBQ in his honor a little more because it will mean more. Taking the day for granted is easy. Forgetting the details of history is a shame. Exploring history through reading is a refreshing joy, and so I encourage you to spend a little time in Lincoln study by reading The Hour of Peril.
The Hour of Peril, by Daniel Stashower, is a non-fiction historical crime thriller. John Wilkes Booth became famous for assassinating Lincoln, but what this book expertly reports is that there was a serious conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln years earlier.
Despite its historically grounded content, this book reads like a face paced fiction. As Lincoln speeds across the union to the capitol for his first inauguration, Allan Pinkerton (and his team of undercover sleuths) is creeping in the shadows ferreting out the plot details and identifying the conspirators.
In fact, the mini-biography of Allan Pinkerton and the story of how his work made him the first and foremost private detective in America is a joy unto itself. I felt that the rest of the murder plot was a bonus to Pinkerton’s heroics.
My one complaint about this book reveals my lack of knowledge more than anything else. Essentially, the union of the United States is on the brink of collapse and Lincoln has been elected President. Before he is even able to take over his new post, the threats of the southern states are so strong that the civil war seems inevitable. So Lincoln is trying to tenuously hold the nation together, and therefore is willing to expose himself to dangers by traveling openly across the country, reaching out the his fellow Americans. What t he book doesn’t do is to provide a clear explanation of what states were friendly to the union, and thus to Lincoln, and what states were in favor of succession, and thus a threat to Lincoln. In other words, something as simple as a map delineating the north and south would have been extremely helpful for me. But since this was truly my first foray into the study of the Civil War, there is so much that I did not know going in that it is hardly fair to hold this book responsible for my ignorance.