The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy: A Novel

The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy: A Novel

4.0 4
by Jacopo della Quercia

View All Available Formats & Editions

This historical thriller is an equal-parts cocktail of action, adventure, science-fiction and comedy. The book follows a globe-trotting President Taft and Robert Todd Lincoln in a race to solve a mystery stretching back to the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination. Based on true events, readers will find themselves swept into a vast conspiracy spanning four

…  See more details below


This historical thriller is an equal-parts cocktail of action, adventure, science-fiction and comedy. The book follows a globe-trotting President Taft and Robert Todd Lincoln in a race to solve a mystery stretching back to the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination. Based on true events, readers will find themselves swept into a vast conspiracy spanning four continents and three oceans during the turn of the century. Fascinating technologies will be harnessed, dark secrets revealed, true villains exposed, and some of the most famous figures in history will take the stage. With surprises lurking around every corner, and a vast cast of characters to root for, Jacopo della Quercia's The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy is a heart-pounding adventure that only history could have made possible.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Steampunk fans, as well as readers who enjoy their thrillers heavily dosed with humor, will revel in this rollercoaster ride. Early on, President William Howard Taft vanquishes four opponents in the ring, solidifying his reputation as the "single greatest underground boxing champion the world would never know of." Flush with victory, Taft ascends from the covert ring to Airship One, a dirigible that serves the president as a flying sanctuary. There, his top aide, Robert Todd Lincoln, reveals that he possesses an unusual watch that is "proof that there is something in Alaska completely alien to this planet." Furthermore, this watch was in the pocket of Lincoln's father the night he was assassinated in 1865. That revelation launches Taft and Lincoln on a wild adventure that involves a killer automaton, Teddy Roosevelt's ambitions for a third term, and a dangerous mission into the New Haven Tomb of the notorious Yale secret society, Skull & Bones. Della Quercia doesn't take the over-the-top plot too seriously, but this alternate universe's internal logic is cleverly constructed. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

“Jacopo is an insight machine. His mind contains museums of fascinating history, and his writing never fails to change the way you look at the world around you.” —Jack O'Brien, Founder, Editor in Chief and General Manager of,

“High concept and high adventure collide in a dizzying and thoroughly riveting adventure. Insanely entertaining.” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of CODE ZERO

“A cleverly composed and daring steampunk adventure.” —G.D. Falksen, author and historian

“Amazing…. skillfully weaves together one of the best reads of the year as he combines "real" history with his vivid and somewhat off-beat imagination. I know of no one else who has merged Martians, speeding blimps, comets, mysterious pocket watches, accurate historical references and international intrigue into one awesome and unique read! Believe it or Not!” —Tim O'Brien, VP Communications, Ripley's Believe It or Not!

“With the sweep and scope of a Jules Verne adventure, The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy not only charts its own fantastic course through a dizzying alternate history of the United States presidency—it takes on literary history itself, turning anachronism into action, politics into pop, and a handful of America’s Commanders-in-Chief into the stuff of potent yet poignantly humanized myth. If you think Honest Abe and his brethren have been resurrected to death (so to speak), think again; Jacopo della Quercia has brought the speculative presidential yarn to another level.” —Jason Heller, Hugo Award-Winning author of Taft 2012

Kirkus Reviews
In his fiction debut, della Querciaimaginativelysteampunks a worldwide conspiracy confronting President William Howard Taft, a crisis that threatens the U.S.Curiously, Taft is "the single greatest underground boxing champion the world would never know of." That avocation is facilitated by Nellie Taft’s willingness to run her husband’s administration; a look-alike automaton; and an 800-foot-plus flying machine, Airship One, capable of a fun trip across the pond so Taft can box four London toughs in one night. In a plot bracketed by Lincoln’s assassination and the sinking of theTitanic, Taft and company cope with a sinister superweapon fueled by cesium hydroxide, clues to which are incorporated in a pocket watch, "unlike any machine in history," given to Lincoln by a Russian ambassador. The watch is brought to Taft by a worried Robert Lincoln, Abraham’s son. More characters are yanked from history, including Tesla (he gets good press), Edison (he doesn’t), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Machiavellian J.P. Morgan, and diabolical King Leopold II of Belgium, ravager of the Congo. Taft’s the most appealing character, 350 pounds ofbon homme, passionately in love with Nellie, loyal to those who serve him, including the Cuban cigar–smoking Wilkie, Secret Service chief and bane ofNellie’s existence. There’s a Marx Brothers reference amplified by a Groucho-ism; an attack at the White House; an invasion of Yale’s Skull and Bones, “the greatest secret of the society: its lack of any particularly meaningful secrets”; an Airship One trip to meet Kurtz in the heart of darkness; and a rock-'em, sock-'em shootout aboard theTitanic. Highlighted by footnotes linking events to news reports in the archives of theNew York Times,the narrative moves smoothly, a talelaced with dialogue often incorporating Tom Swift–ian charm and constructed so that techno-wizardry doesn't overwhelm the story.A good-funentry point into the world of steampunk.

Read More

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I

“Taft! Taft! Taft!”

“… Taft! Taft! Taft! Taft!”

The enthusiastic crowd was on their feet, heralding the man’s arrival like a howl of banshees. The atmosphere was a thundercloud of smoke, sweat, and shouts. Tickets were clutched tightly in every fist around the ramshackle arena. Secret Service agents cleared a path for their fighter. Women rushed forward to touch him. An unabating London crowd simultaneously cheered, cursed, and chanted his name. In a darkened corner, one surreptitious spectator casually smoked a cigar, while next to him stood a transfixed Robert Todd Lincoln.

It was Friday night, July 15, one minute to midnight, which translated to high noon in the Bucket of Blood. Its four fighters, all champions, stirred anxiously on their sawdust-covered canvas as their enormous opponent thudded toward them. He was six feet, two inches tall, three hundred fifty pounds, and endowed with both the build and the grace of a bear. His torso was a medical atlas of stretch marks and scars. His boxing trunks, though frayed with age, were an unmistakable Stars and Stripes. A vast entourage of staffers and secretaries studied his every move. Spectators screamed, the brazen hearts of four challengers pounded, and every eye in the arena focused like spotlights on the fight’s main attraction: William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh president of the United States of America.

The man-mountain moved slowly, but not lazily. In his fifty-two years of living and thirty-five years of fighting, he had long ago mastered how to steer his huge frame. He entered the ring like a toddler who had outgrown his crib, and his baby blue eyes greeted his adversaries as if they were playmates. His opponents, from left to right, were an Irishman with a checkered past, an Englishman who hated America, a Welshman who hated everyone, and a Scotsman who had once killed a man over haggis. All were tested, seasoned fighters, battle-hardened and spoiling for a fight with the single greatest underground boxing champion the world would never know of. There were no reporters, no policemen, no referees, and no rules. For the challengers, this was a fight for personal glory, a last-ditch attempt by the British Isles to put America back in her place. For Will “Big Bill” Taft, this was exercise.

The president twitched his blond mustache.

The audience froze.

The fight started.

The first man to move was the Englishman, who instinctively took a step back to study his foe. The Irishman feinted to Taft’s left and the Scot charged in from the right. As effortlessly as a gentleman tipping his hat, Taft seized the screaming Scotsman and tossed him into the Irishman like a bag of potatoes. With Taft’s right flank exposed, the wiry Welshman made his move. He rushed in and struck the president hard and fast to the chest, ribs, and head. Despite the echoing smack of the Welshman’s fists against Taft’s ample flesh, the president was not even tickled. He locked eyes with his aggressor and felled him with a single, openhanded smack upside the head. A quarter of the audience groaned as the Welshman slipped out of consciousness. The fight had barely started and there was already a man on the floor.

With the president’s right flank secured, he revisited his remaining foes. As Taft considered his next move, the unsporting Englishman interrupted him by kicking sawdust in his face. The crowd roared with laughter as the president stumbled backward. The Englishman knew this would be his only opening: He leaped onto Taft with all his weight and wrestled him to the ground. Cheers erupted as the Irishman and Scotsman piled onto the president. As the presidential entourage watched intently, a female aide covered her mouth with her hand. For a brief moment in the Bucket of Blood, it appeared to be a good day to have been born an Englishman.

But then he got Tafted.

A deafening, bloodcurdling scream rang through the building as Taft unleashed an old favorite from his Yale days: the dreaded “Skull and Bones.” He gripped the Englishman’s face like a bowling ball, digging into his eye sockets with one hand while his other hand crushed the man’s genitals between his thick fingers. The Irishman and the Scotsman backed away as Taft slowly rose to his feet, lifting the Englishman over his head in a towering clean and jerk. It was a harrowing sight that left much of the audience in tears, some out of pain and others out of disbelief. The president hurled his maimed opponent into the English section of the crowd, but was careful not to hurt anyone. The defeated Englishman landed face-first on a piano. Taft then brushed the sawdust from his shoulders and turned to face the two remaining fighters.

Now that the Irishman and Scotsman understood the unstoppable beast facing them, they agreed with a nod to take down their foe as a team. The Scot came at Taft from his left and delivered a powerful kick to his knee. The mob cheered wildly as the seemingly invincible warrior nearly collapsed under his own weight. The Irishman, tasting victory, dashed in from the right to deliver a potentially fatal kick to Taft’s skull. That is, if only the Irish were so lucky. Taft caught the fighter by the leg and swung him into the air as if he were showing the Scot how to tee off at St Andrews. The president hopped back onto his feet and let the flying, screaming Irishman out of his grip. The Irish section groaned painfully as their prizefighter hit a beam on the ceiling and landed facedown in the sawdust.

Taft turned his back on the dizzied Irishman to confront the last fighter standing. The enraged Scotsman put up his dukes and challenged Taft to fisticuffs, which the president graciously accepted. Taft glided across the floor like a dancer, throwing several punches that the young Scot was quick enough to dodge. However, the skirmish came to a quick end when Taft landed a right cross that would have staggered a Pamplona bull. The Scotsman was stunned and barely able to stand. After consulting the vast library of wrestling moves in his head, Taft threw his arms around his opponent for a finisher that no one of Scottish descent at the Bucket of Blood would forget. The president heaved his hapless foe in the air and suplexed him against the pub’s hardwood floor. The Scotsman, much like the Scottish section of the crowd, was no longer moving.

The battle was all but over until one sore gambler raised the stakes. A puukko knife was thrown toward the Irishman as the dazed fighter regained consciousness. Once he saw the weapon, the irate Irishman grabbed the knife and made a final, screaming lunge toward the president. The room gasped. Several Secret Service agents reached for their pistols, including an otherwise indifferent Chief Wilkie, but only Taft knew how little danger he was in. The president turned, met his screaming adversary with a smile, and sent him flying across the sawdust circle with a solid kick to the chest. The response from the crowd was deafening. The fight was over, the president had won fairly, and he claimed the Irishman’s puukko knife as a souvenir.

Taft studied the weapon with curiosity before turning to his staff. “Ready the flying machine,” he requested.

Copyright © 2014 by Jacopo della Quercia

Read More

Meet the Author

JACOPO DELLA QUERCIA is an educator and history writer who has authored more than 100 articles for the comedy website His work has been featured in the New York Times bestseller You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News, BBC America, CNN Money, The Huffington Post, "The Takeaway" public radio program, Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, CBS's Man Cave Daily, Georgetown University professor John Brown's Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, among others.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This should be a movie! I really enjoyed the mix of historical fact with entertaining fiction. This book held my attention and had me researching things I wasn't aware of. I particularly enjoyed the strong women characters (but I would have liked more time with them). Overall, a fun and thoroughly entertaining book . Hollywood should adapt this, and soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic read that is enjoyable for people of all ages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the intertwining of Robert Lincoln and President Taft and their adventures. A little draggy in some parts but clever plot and story. Once the action started, the storyline moved right along. Three cheers for Mrs. Taft.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago