A Scottish immigrant who came to America on the run from the law established the agency that stopped an early plot against Abraham Lincoln and became the best known detective of his era.
Allan Pinkerton honed his detective skills working for the Chicago police force until political corruption led him to leave and begin his own agency. He soon developed a reputation for honesty and relentless determination and notably thwarted a plot to sabotage the railroad lines while Lincoln was en route to his inauguration. Pinkerton’s connections to Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan and his proven skills opened a role for him: heading up the Union Intelligence Service. Pinkerton and his cohorts, including the first female agent, provided much information for the Union effort. Following the war, Pinkerton became famous for pursuit of criminals such as Jesse James and controversial efforts against strikers. As the agency grew and changed, it became synonymous with security well into the 21st century. The detailed stories of thwarted plots, gambits behind enemy lines, and efforts to bring outlaws to justice will appeal to readers. The prose is serviceable for the subject; the design is dominated by static portraits of the mentioned historic figures for an overall stuffy effect, although a list of important players in the beginning of the text is helpful.
The absorbing subject matter will carry readers past design hiccups. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)