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The Hour of Peril

The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

Daniel Stashower

Minotaur Books

  • Edgar Allen Poe Award Winner

  • Buy it now

“It's history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller.” 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 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 Stashower has crafted this spellbinding historical narrative with the pace and urgency of a race-against-the-clock thriller.

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2013

Winner of the 2014 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime

Winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction

BOOK EXCERPTS

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 CHAPTER ONE

THE APPRENTICE

 

Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed.

—ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Springfield, Illinois, 1839

THE PECULIAR MARCH OF EVENTS that carried Allan Pinkerton to Baltimore had begun twenty-two years earlier—on the night of November 3, 1839—on a rain-soaked field in South Wales. At that time, Abraham Lincoln was still a young legislator in Illinois, voicing early concern over voting rights and the “injustice and bad policy” of slavery. An ocean away, Pinkerton was also throwing himself at

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Hour of Peril

“This account of the little-known Baltimore-based plot to assassinate Lincoln… hurtles across a landscape of conspirators, heroes and politicos in hotel suites, ladies’ parlors and railway depots…. 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.” —New York Times Book Review

“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

“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 of Battle Cry of Freedom

“A fast-paced page turner. Stashower deploys the skills of a gifted veteran mystery writer.” —Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life

In the Press

‘The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War’ by Daniel Stashower - The Washington Post
In “The Hour of Peril,” Daniel Stashower chronicles Pinkerton’s efforts to prevent a tragedy.
- The Washington Post
Nonfiction Review: The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower. Minotaur, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0
John Wilkes Booth succeeded in 1865, but the first major plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln unfolded in 1861 in anticipation of the then president-elect's railway trip to Washington, D.C., for his in
- Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Daniel Stashower

  • DANIEL STASHOWER is an acclaimed biographer and narrative historian and winner of the Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony awards, and the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, AARP: The Magazine, and National Geographic Traveler as well as other publications.

  • Daniel Stashower
    Daniel Stashower

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    The Hour of Peril

    The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

    Daniel Stashower

    Washington Post Best Books of the Year, Edgar Allen Poe Award Nominee, Agatha Awards - Nominee, Edgar Allen Poe Award Winner, Agatha Awards - Winner, Anthony Awards - Nominee

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    Minotaur Books

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