This fascinating book, geared toward ages 10 to 14, is a great introduction to history. Without talking down to her readers, Seiple conveys Pinkerton’s intriguing and complex career, which spanned the years just before, during, and after the Civil War.
Pinkerton stumbled into his career when he alerted local law enforcement of a suspicious campsite, which turned out to be the lair of counterfeiters. He moved up through the ranks, eventually accepting a detective’s position in Chicago. The restrictions faced by police forces, particularly state lines, prompted Pinkerton to set up shop as a private eye. With a network that stretched across the nation, Pinkerton was in the perfect position to spy for Lincoln, uncovering and foiling Confederate plots. In later years, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency was involved in the pursuit and capture of renegades robbing the banks and railroads of the newly reunited country. Throughout his career Pinkerton pioneered techniques that are now standard operating procedure in the CIA, Scotland Yard, and police departments and detective agencies worldwide.
Lincoln’s Spymaster focuses less on biography and more on the more thrilling aspects Pinkerton’s career, reporting both the successes and the scandals. This career provides a framework for the Civil War, the Reno and James Younger gangs, and the Great Chicago Fire - all of which Pinkerton lived through and played a part in. A well-written page turner, this is, for me, the best way to learn history - through the people who lived it.
Seiple, Samantha. Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, Americans First Private Eye. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2015. 4 star.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in the review are mine alone.