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I've read a ton of Civil War books so the "secret plot" is by no means new to me but I was interested in getting more details about it since I never studied it in any depth. In fact there is quite a bit of debate about how real the plot was so I looked forward to reading (listening) to this book.
First -- the book is written from almost 100% a northern perspective. For example when talking about John Brown, who murdered 5 innocent people in Kansas, the author states that 5 people were killed during a raid into Kansas. Killed and murder are words that have very different meanings. John Brown was certainly on the right side of the issue, but that doesn't change the fact he was murderous psychopath. There are many many many examples of the author framing peoples backgrounds to make the story flow. Don't get me wrong, this isn't like Al Franken doing a book about Reagan, it's not political and what the author is writing isn't lies, it's just incomplete. If you already have a strong knowledge of the Civil War you'll pick-up on this very quickly and you'll be able to adjust the story accordingly. However if you're new to the subject I highly suggest you do additional reading to get a more balanced view of the subject and characters involved. More information is always better than less information.
Second -- this book is more about Allan Pinkerton than it is about the plot itself. I knew this going in so I wasn't disappointed. The problem with Pinkerton is that he, in everything else I've ever read, was very much known as a self-promoter and tended to exaggerate things -- this is one of the reason that there is such debate over the "secret plot." I did find this book extremely helpful in regard to this and I'm satisfied that even if the plot was exaggerated it was indeed real.
Third -- this book is not a well researched history of the "secret plot", instead it's Allan Pinkerton's version of events. There were additional people that were involved that were outside of Pinkerton's spy ring and their sides of the story are not told in any detail and pretty much only mentioned when they came into collision with Pinkerton.
OK so with all that said you're probably wondering why I still give the book 4-stars. Well I found it interesting even with all it's faults. It is a much more detailed look at a piece of history I knew about but didn't know in depth. Also I was interested in learning more about Pinkerton as he plays a part in a lot of the different happenings during the Civil War and if nothing else this book gives me a great overview of him.
The story itself starts off slow but picks up steam as it goes along. After the first few hours, which were quite dull to me, the book picks up steam and become much more interesting,
The reader does a good job and has the appropriate tone for book.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
This is really the story of Pinkerton. It takes more than half the book before he's even on the train. A disappointment.