Lincoln's Spies
A major addition to the history of the Civil War, Lincoln’s Spies is a riveting account of the secret battles waged by Union agents to save a nation. Filled with espionage, sabotage, and intrigue, it is also a striking portrait of a shrewd president who valued what his operatives uncovered. Veteran journalist Douglas Waller, who has written ground-breaking intelligence histories, turns his sights on the shadow war of four secret agents for the North—three men and one woman. From the tense days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861 to the surrender at Appomattox four years later, Waller delivers a fast-paced narrative of the heroes—and scoundrels—who informed Lincoln’s generals on the enemy positions for crucial battles and busted up clandestine Rebel networks.Famed detective Allan Pinkerton mounted a successful covert operation to slip Lincoln through Baltimore before his inauguration to foil an assassination attempt. But he failed as General George McClellan’s spymaster, delivering faulty intelligence reports that overestimated Confederate strength.George Sharpe, an erudite New York lawyer, succeeded Pinkerton as spymaster for the Union’s Army of the Potomac. Recruiting skilled operatives, some of whom dressed in Rebel uniforms, Sharpe ran highly successful intelligence operations that outpaced anything the enemy could field.Elizabeth Van Lew, a Virginia heiress who hated slavery and disapproved of secession, was one of Sharpe’s most successful agents. She ran a Union spy ring in Richmond out of her mansion, with dozens of agents feeding her military and political secrets she funneled to General Ulysses S. Grant as his army closed in on the Confederate capital. Van Lew became one of the unsung heroes of the war.Lafayette Baker was a handsome Union officer with a controversial past, whose agents clashed with Pinkerton’s operatives. The unscrupulous Baker assembled a retinue of disreputable spies, thieves, and prostitutes to root out traitors in Washington, D.C. But he failed at his most important mission: uncovering the threat to Lincoln from John Wilkes Booth and his gang.Behind these secret operatives was a president, one of our greatest, who was an avid consumer of intelligence and a ruthless aficionado of clandestine warfare, willing to take chances to win the war. Lincoln’s Spies, as Waller vividly depicts in his excellent new book, set the template for the dark arts the CIA would practice in the future.

Lincoln's Spies Details

TitleLincoln's Spies
Author
ReleaseAug 6th, 2019
PublisherSimon Schuster
ISBN-139781501126840
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Military History, Civil War

Lincoln's Spies Review

  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    One of my favorite time periods in American history is the Civil War. I have read and love reading books on the Civil War, from the generals to the battles. This was a very interesting and intriguing book. Not much is mentioned about spies during the Civil War and this was an excellent book about the spy rings set up by Abraham Lincoln and other Union generals and how they went behind enemy lines on dangerous espionage counter missions on Confederate troop movements.
    more
  • Angie Boyter
    January 1, 1970
    This is a meticulously detailed, impressively researched book on the Civil War, centering on the role of intelligence. History buffs will LOVE it, but there was a bit more than I really wanted to know about battle details. etc., so I confess I skimmed or even skipped some parts. There re a LOT of persons and places mentioned, and it was impossible to keep them all straight. To appreciate it properly, the book requires concentrated attention; it is not a vacation book!
    more
  • John Wood
    January 1, 1970
    Not an exhaustive history of all the spies operating during the American Civil War but a very well written and researched account of four major spies. Allan Pinkerton is known as the first private detective in the US, despite his lucrative private practice, he was not the best Civil War spy, grossly overestimating strength. George Sharpe was much more efficient than Pinkerton and fielded a group of operatives far better than any the Confederates had. Elizabeth Van Lew was a wealthy resident of R Not an exhaustive history of all the spies operating during the American Civil War but a very well written and researched account of four major spies. Allan Pinkerton is known as the first private detective in the US, despite his lucrative private practice, he was not the best Civil War spy, grossly overestimating strength. George Sharpe was much more efficient than Pinkerton and fielded a group of operatives far better than any the Confederates had. Elizabeth Van Lew was a wealthy resident of Richmond who ran a highly successful spy ring in the Confederate capital, amazingly avoiding the hangman's noose, alienating her neighbors becoming a pariah for the rest of her life, arguably the noblest of all the spies showing true, fearless patriotism. Lafayette Baker was a disreputable, ruthless spymaster who searched for enemies of the Union in Washington but missing John Wilkes Booth. These four people were all instrumental in developing many of the techniques still used in present-day spycraft. The author's account is very interesting and was very informative, even debunking some misconceptions I had especially of the role of Allan Pinkerton.
    more
  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an odd mixture of historical and biographical information about the subjects, who were all in theory working on behalf of the Union during the American Civil War. Their roles, official or otherwise, were in aid of what might be called espionage or counter-espionage, but the people were an odd mixture of altruists and con artists, detectives and do-gooders, and that made the story even more interesting.By the end of the book, I did have a question: How the heck did Lafayette Baker ke This book is an odd mixture of historical and biographical information about the subjects, who were all in theory working on behalf of the Union during the American Civil War. Their roles, official or otherwise, were in aid of what might be called espionage or counter-espionage, but the people were an odd mixture of altruists and con artists, detectives and do-gooders, and that made the story even more interesting.By the end of the book, I did have a question: How the heck did Lafayette Baker keep his job? He was apparently such an unmitigated, crooked jerk and yet he somehow came away not rich, so he wasn't even all that good as being an unmitigated, crooked jerk. Plenty has been written about him, and about Pinkerton, but the others covered in this story are less well-known, and that made the book even more interesting.This is not a battlefield book, and if you're looking for spies riding into combat, waving stolen papers to be delivered to generals in order to save the day...no, this isn't that kind of book. On the other hand, though, it's an interesting study of people, places and events that shaped history.
    more
  • Ddoddmccue
    January 1, 1970
    Lincoln's Spies is a masterful telling of the under emphasized role of intelligence gathering as a significant contribution to Union efforts. Waller structures what could be an overwhelming amount of research through the efforts of four spies- Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, George Sharpe, and Elizabeth Van Lew- during the Civil War. Each of the four offer unique motivation, perspectives, and outcomes within the context of the war's progression, adding new insights into well known battles and Lincoln's Spies is a masterful telling of the under emphasized role of intelligence gathering as a significant contribution to Union efforts. Waller structures what could be an overwhelming amount of research through the efforts of four spies- Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, George Sharpe, and Elizabeth Van Lew- during the Civil War. Each of the four offer unique motivation, perspectives, and outcomes within the context of the war's progression, adding new insights into well known battles and military/political leadership. Additionally, Waller's attentiveness to the accurate description of key locations and to his treatment of the challenges faced by Van Lew as both a woman and Union spy in the Confederate capital.Don't let the overall length or reference density scare you away - Lincoln's Spies is well worth reading.
    more
  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    A good multi subject biography. I found this book to be very readable and the narrative flowed easily. Also, the author had a way of keeping the reader's attention; each chapter focused on a different story line. I hadn't read this author before, but based on this book I will consider reading some of his other work. This book was a good starting point for anyone interested in espionage during the Civil War years.
    more
Write a review