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Corporate lawyer Kline details an alleged plot to which most Lincoln books only allude. President-elect Lincoln journeyed by private railway from Springfield, IL, through Maryland to his 1861 inauguration and, in Baltimore, escaped from what was probably the first conspiracy to assassinate him. The alleged plotters were never brought to trial. Kline contextualizes Baltimore as the largest city of a pro-secessionist border state, where previous tumults had earned it the sobriquet "Mobtown." Foiling the plot burnished the reputation of private detective Allan Pinkerton, among others. Lincoln's protectors saved his life but not his reputation. The press ridiculed Lincoln for resorting to disguise when moving between stations in Baltimore in the midst of his otherwise highly publicized "Lincoln Special" to Washington. Lincoln thereafter vowed never to hide. Kline translates legal concepts into comprehensible language, making readable an at times exhaustive examination of a scheme tied together through the "circumstantial evidence of motive, means, and opportunity." Kline invites his readers to serve as judge and jury and to conjecture how history would have been different had such a conspiracy succeeded. Comparing favorably with Harold Holzer's Lincoln President-Elect, this book demonstrates the use of archival sources beyond the usual standard and is recommended for libraries serving specialists and general readers.
—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr.