NonFiction Book Club

Lincoln's Spies: Their Secret War to Save a Nation


Douglas Waller

FROM THE BOOK JACKET: A major addition to the history of the Civil War, Lincolns 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 Lincolns inauguration in 1861 to the surrender at Appomattox four years later, Waller delivers a fast-paced narrative of the heroes—and scoundrels—who informed Lincolns 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 McClellans spymaster, delivering faulty intelligence reports that overestimated Confederate strength.

George Sharpe, an erudite New York lawyer, succeeded Pinkerton as spymaster for the Unions 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 Sharpes 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 Pinkertons 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. Lincolns Spies, as Waller vividly depicts in his excellent new book, set the template for the dark arts the CIA would practice in the future.

Image result for douglas waller authorAUTHOR INFO: Douglas Waller is a former correspondent for Newsweek and Time, where he covered the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, White House, and Congress. He is the author of the bestsellers Wild Bill Donovan, Big Red, and The Commandos, as well as critically acclaimed works such as Disciples, the story of four CIA directors who fought for Donovan in World War II, and A Question of Loyalty, a biography of General Billy Mitchell. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Read this book and join over 300,000 other readers with a free Library Online Book Club subscription

Subscribe
  Catalog
Online Book Clubs
  • Online Book Clubs is a fun way to discover and read books on your web browser, smartphone or tablet.
  • Subscribe to the clubs for free to get access to the first few chapters of a new book. Receive a 5-minute read daily for 5 days.
  • Author Buzz and Kids Buzz: exclusive weekly service featuring 4-5 authors, up close and personal. Authors offer free signed copies of their books and dozens of other free giveaways every week.


Start reading today

What our readers think...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.