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Protecting President Lincoln: The Security…
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Protecting President Lincoln: The Security Effort, the Thwarted Plots and… (edition 2011)

by Frederick Hatch

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1810561,019 (4.2)None
nbmars's review
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book provides a very detailed picture of all the death threats against Lincoln that started even before his inauguration, and of course a blow-by-blow account of what happened the night he died. When you read about all the plots to which Lincoln was subject, you cannot but concur with the author that it was a miracle Lincoln was not assassinated before the beginning of his second term.

By way of background, the author notes that Lincoln was not much loved in his lifetime; in fact, “he was the subject of much vilification and even outright hatred.” Lincoln was aware of many of the death threats, but maintained that if anyone wanted to kill him, they would, guard or no guard. So he resisted having the protection his friends advocated.

In fact, it was not until 1907 that Congress approved funds for presidential protection, but it was not a permanent appropriation until 1951. (The Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for protection of the President in 1902, but this was an “informal” function.)

Discussion: Having read a great deal about Lincoln and also about the assassination, most of what is in this book was familiar to me in broad outline, but Hatch provides a great many more details than are usually included. His chapter on what happened to the guard, John Parker, who was supposed to be outside the President’s box at Ford’s Theater, is particularly helpful.

Evaluation: There is more detail here than may interest many general readers, but for those obsessed with Lincoln, this book will be a welcome addition. ( )
  nbmars | Apr 19, 2012 |
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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Really enjoyed the information. I've read many books about the Civil War and Lincoln's assassination, and I would recommend this book to anyone else that is interested in this topic. It's obvious that this was well researched by Mr Hatch. ( )
  CharlesSvec | Nov 25, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The info was great, the formating kinda drove me nuts. ( )
  freudslip | Nov 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Not you everyday average book on Lincoln.

This historiography on Lincoln's assassination attempts by Frederick Hatch is done quite well. Gives a nice overview of each attempts at the president's life. The security measures that were in place and write up of each of the members of the Booth/Surratt conspiracies including those who hung, those who where imprisoned, and those who were involved to some degree but not charged.

This is a well written work which used good resources. The narrative has a nice flow to it and covers a subject that is not the usual topic of a Lincoln book.

I would recommend it to any Lincoln fan and civil war buff. Maybe not for those who are looking for more of an overall biography or who are just getting into Lincolnania. ( )
  Schneider | Oct 16, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've always been fascinated by the Lincoln Assassination. One needn't look far to find some really off the wall stuff about the assassination (see "Eisenschimel, Otto") or some really useless rehashings of the story (see "Manhunt"). To me the best two volumes on the assassination/kidnap plots are Michael Kaufman's "American Brutus" and Ed Steer's "Blood on the Moon". I really fail to see how the overall story of the Assassination can be improved upon these two works.

But there are other aspects to the events surrounding the night of 14/15 April 1865 that do warrant closer examination. Lincoln's "bodyguard" for example. Exactly what John Parker and Charles Forbes were doing and what orders they had at Ford's Theater has long been debated.

On a broader scale, Lincoln's security during the war as a whole has never been looked at in great detail and given its own study. Sadly, it still hasn't been given this treatment, despite the title of Frederick Hatch's book.

McFarland's new "Protecting President Lincoln: The Security Effort, the Thwarted Plots and the Disaster at Ford's Theater" has promise, but really falls short. It is plagued by a lofty title - one which a book of a mere 170 pages of text could not hope to live up to. My main criticism is that while reading it, and after reading it, I was constantly wondering what is the book's intended audience? Based on the title, I was expecting to be reading about Ward Hill Lamon, William Crook and John Parker. Instead "Protecting Lincoln" contains a confusing mix of Lincoln 101-type material combined with a scholarly mix of a few decent chapters about the actual presumed topic. The sections about Parker et al are very good, but they are wasted amidst all the Assassination basics - a reader appreciating the Lamon/Crook/Parker material would already be familiar with much of the rest of the contents of the book, and vice versa - one approaching from the Assassination 101-level will be thoroughly lost with the couple of chapters of very good scholarly analysis of Lincoln's actual security details. This again comes back to my main criticism of this book - who is the target audience??

I have other - mostly stylistic gripes - with "Protecting Lincoln" as well. The author includes the life years [ex (1809-1865)] with just about every person mentioned in the text. There are also numerous quotations given but no attribution as to who the person was (this is a personal pet peeve of mine). Again, this ties back to the whole target audience issue - Assassination neophytes may not be familiar with some of the peripheral players in the plot, or other Assassination scholars and thus may not appreciate the full meaning of many of the quotations in the text. There's also a smattering of completely unattributed quotes as well (ex 3rd paragraph, pg 31).

Documentation is also an issue - some standard knowledge things are given citations, but others - like when the author tackles the question of the hole drilled in the door of Lincoln's theater box and writes that the staff of Ford's rather than JWB was responsible for it, there is no attribute (pg 113).

All McFarland titles are expensive, but $45 for a paperback of only 200 pages is taking it to an extreme, even for McF. If author and/or publisher intended this to be aimed at the Lincoln novice, the price will do that idea in. The bibliography shows extensive research, for which the author is to be commended.

I'm honestly not quite sure what to make of "Protecting Lincoln." Parts are extremely valuable additions to the Assassination canon; others have no business in a book purporting to be an examination of Lincoln's security. It is almost as though the book were a compilation of essays about Lincoln and the Assassination. That said, Frederick Hatch's "Protecting President Lincoln" is a book that deserves a place on the shelf of any Lincoln Assassination library if for no other reason than the chapter about the White House staff going with Lincoln to Ford's. ( )
  reenactorman | Jul 7, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A fascinating look at the attempts made on Lincoln's life, and the work of those who were charged with his protection. At a time full of turmoil, this was no easy task, as threats against Lincoln were many. I've been fascinated by Lincoln and the Civil War for years, but there was still a lot of material in this book that was new to me. A thoroughly enjoyable read! ( )
  Berkshires | Jun 21, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's a YES from me! That would be my vote if Frederick Hatch were competing in an "America's Got Talent" for writers. His book "Protecting President Lincoln" is a welcome addition to Civil War literature. It covers a number of variables relating to various aspects of hazards Lincoln faced as President and follows through to his death and burial. There were many plots to kill Lincoln from the time of his inauguration to the time he was killed by Booth. They include such things as the bomb on the inaugural train to kidnapping plots hatched by Southern agents. They gave rise to protection provided by friends, ie. Ward Hill Lamon, as well as the professional efforts of Allan Pinkerton or the White House guard detail.
The book is well written and very readable. Pictures sprinkled through the book give the reader a visual sense of "who" and "where" the events written of took place. The author builds a detailed cast of characters who were involved and adds birth and death dates for most of them. That makes this book a plus for Family Historians who may find they have ancestors who were involved in the Lincoln saga one way or another. I learned that Mary Surratt's maiden name was Jenkins. I have Jenkins in my background who would have lived in the D.C. area. I have not made any definite connection yet but it is of interest. The book includes a very nice index and bibliography.
The chapters on Lincoln's funeral, burial and subsequent burials and the aftermath for the major players in the book were also of particular interest. They contained material not easily gleaned in one place. I also thought the note of George Atzerodt's brother in law being one of the detectives involved with the examination of John Wilkes Booth's remains was very interesting.
This book is a good read and has a YES from me!! ( )
1 vote BookerBoy | Jun 2, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was a thoroughly engaging book about the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, primarily focused on his years as President and the efforts to protect him. There was a lot of information here that I already knew, but just as much information that was new. I liked that Frederick Hatch's narrative was concise and always on topic, not seeming to waste a word. The detailed biographical information about the Lincoln conspirators was particularly interesting to me. I liked that many pertinent photos were placed within the text at the point where the people or places were discussed. I also thought the detailed information about Lincoln's funeral, including the long train trip to Springfield, Illlinois, with all its stops along the way, was fascinating. Although much more about this topic could and has been said in many other books, I found this one very readable and interesting, one that was as in depth as I cared to be reading, at least at this point.

One thing that confused me was the cover illustration of a man's eyes. I'd assumed it had to be Lincoln, but couldn't see a resemblance. I finally thought to look at the copyright page to see if some light could be shed on it - and it was. The cover illustration is Allan Pinkerton, which seems odd to me, because although he does come into play in the book (up to page 27, and then reappearing on page 146), I don't understand why he, rather than Lincoln, is shown on the cover. It just strikes me as needlessly confusing...
I enjoyed reading this book very much and appreciate receiving it from the Early Reviewers program. ( )
  y2pk | May 12, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book provides a very detailed picture of all the death threats against Lincoln that started even before his inauguration, and of course a blow-by-blow account of what happened the night he died. When you read about all the plots to which Lincoln was subject, you cannot but concur with the author that it was a miracle Lincoln was not assassinated before the beginning of his second term.

By way of background, the author notes that Lincoln was not much loved in his lifetime; in fact, “he was the subject of much vilification and even outright hatred.” Lincoln was aware of many of the death threats, but maintained that if anyone wanted to kill him, they would, guard or no guard. So he resisted having the protection his friends advocated.

In fact, it was not until 1907 that Congress approved funds for presidential protection, but it was not a permanent appropriation until 1951. (The Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for protection of the President in 1902, but this was an “informal” function.)

Discussion: Having read a great deal about Lincoln and also about the assassination, most of what is in this book was familiar to me in broad outline, but Hatch provides a great many more details than are usually included. His chapter on what happened to the guard, John Parker, who was supposed to be outside the President’s box at Ford’s Theater, is particularly helpful.

Evaluation: There is more detail here than may interest many general readers, but for those obsessed with Lincoln, this book will be a welcome addition. ( )
  nbmars | Apr 19, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an excellent, concise and very informative book about the security surrounding President Lincoln before and after his assassination. There are many details and interesting facts about Lincoln's arrival in Washington through the placement of his casket in its final resting place several years after his death. Mr. Hatch's research is thorough and this book will be a great reference for Lincoln scholars of all intensities. Thanks to the Early Reviewers program for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. ( )
  BAP1012 | Apr 14, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Frederick Hatch does an excellent job of exploring the security that various people and agencies tried to provide to President Lincoln from his journey to Washington to be sworn in up to and including protecting his body after burial. Everybody knows about the assassination and John Wilkes Booth and that he had conspirators that helped him, but few of us know that while Lincoln was in office that there were various levels of protection around him and that there were more threats to his life then the final one. Mr. Hatch is meticulous in explaining the security that Lincoln had and the failure that occurred the night he was killed.

Lincoln became a marked man when he won election and there were many who spoke out that he would not make it to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration. Even after taking the oath of office there were threats to Lincoln's safety. The Washington, D.C. police, the military, Allan Pinkerton, Lincoln's friends and close advisers were all involved in trying to protect the President. It seems to be a miracle that he survived to serve out his first term.

Mr. Hatch goes into great detail discussing the conspiracy that ended the life of Lincoln. He goes over the various characters and their involvement with Booth. He also goes into their fates after the trials.

I found the book to be interesting and full of material that I was unaware of up to this time. It is easy to read and has plenty of pictures to help the reader see what he is writing about. It is an excellent addition to any Lincoln library. ( )
  qstewart | Apr 9, 2012 |
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