Announcement: In the past we have shared various resources on Christians and reading including “Christian Theology on Reading Series with Audio Mp3s and PDF available for free.” For the next four Sundays we will post reviews of non-Christian books where we first evaluate the book and have a closing section titled: “What’s in it for the Christian?”
I borrowed this book because I have never heard of any attempt to assassinate Abraham Lincoln back in 1861 during his trip to Washington to be inaugurated in as president of the United States before the Civil War. Of course we know that any attempt to murder Lincoln in 1861 was unsuccessful. The book has a good start and even gave the background to the detective Alan Pinkerton, the famous Private investigator that eventually helped coined the phrase “private eye.” The author wrote in a dramatic fashion and told the story like a thriller. Perhaps the novel-like suspense eventually hurt the book since towards the middle of the book I started wondering whether there was really any attempt to murder Lincoln and by the end of the book I was totally disappointed. For a book that was sold as a secret plot to murder Lincoln, there was in the end nothing really concrete of a conspiracy of an immediate threat that was unearth to murder Lincoln beyond rumors, drunken men talking, secret agents listening in to people in bars and brothels and some nutcases getting together filled with self-importance. Essentially the book was about Pinkerton and others who were worried and eventually convinced Abraham Lincoln to secretly sneak into Washington DC rather than enter through Baltimore and Maryland publicly, which at that time had many pro-Confederate sympathizer. I would say this book and the event was totally disappointing. The only action you will get is when Pinkerton punched a Congressman when he escorted Lincoln off the railroad station because he was paranoid and didn’t know whom the Congressman was. I thought that captured pretty accurately the paranoia of Pinkerton and what to me is Pinkerton and the author’s misjudgment. In the end, the plotters whom Pinkerton’s men spied upon weren’t even arrested and went back to normal life without being questioned or detained which made me wonder how much of a threat there really was in the first place when proper authorities didn’t even take action.
What’s in it for the Christian: Hindsight is always 20/20 but the people in 1861 didn’t know that Abraham Lincoln’s fate would not end in 1861. It should remind us that as Christians we cannot know and control the future as James 4:13-14 teaches: “ Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 [g]Yet you do not know[h]what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” God is in control of history and many conspiracies by men don’t go according to plan because mankind can’t control everything. This should comfort us. We must be reminded of the greatest conspiracy to come in which the nations conspire against the Son of God and yet “He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4).