What We Are Reading Today: Lincoln’s Spies by Douglas C. Waller

Updated 08 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Lincoln’s Spies by Douglas C. Waller

A major addition to the history of the Civil War, Lincoln’s Spies is a riveting account of the secret battles waged by Union agents to save a nation, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

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 Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861 to the surrender at Appomattox four years later, Waller delivers a fast-paced narrative of the heroes — and scoundrels — who informed Lincoln’s generals of enemy positions.

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 Gen. George McClellan’s spymaster, delivering faulty intelligence reports that overestimated Confederate strength.

Behind these secret operatives was a president who was an avid consumer of intelligence and a ruthless aficionado of clandestine warfare, willing to take chances to win the war. 


What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Updated 09 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine: The River That Made Paris is a wonderful book from Elaine Sciolino that takes readers on a journey along the Seine river, through France’s fascinating history and a thousand little anecdotes that fill it with life. 

The book “tells the story of the Seine’s origin, its little known source in Burgundy, and the goddess that gave the river its name,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

It also “tells the stories of dozens of fascinating characters that have spent their lives on, around and along the river,” the review added.

It said “Sciolino met with people living on their boats, fishermen, the river police, the firefighters who put out the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral using water from the Seine, and many more.” 

The characters “come to live with her skillful writing and share their stories of how the Seine has shaped their lives,” said the review.

Sciolino is a writer and former Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times, based in France since 2002. 

She contributes to The New York Times’ Food, Culture, Styles and Sunday Review sections.