John Jakes On Secret Service

ISBN 13: 9780751530636

On Secret Service

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9780751530636: On Secret Service
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A novel based around the exploits of various spies during the American Civil War. Lon supports the north, works for the War Department and is offered a job in the National Detective Police force. Margaret supports the south and works for her father until her outspokenness lands her in prison.

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Review:

John Jakes is to historical American fiction what Stephen King is to horror: a one-man industry. Jakes, the author of over 60 books, including the eight-part Kent Family Chronicles, the North and South Trilogy, and innumerable short stories of the American West, returns to his well-trod Civil War stomping grounds in the engrossing On Secret Service. The story of a war within a war on various levels--the North v. the South, the Union's Pinkerton Detective Agency v. the Confederacy's agent provocateurs, youthful idealism v. youthful lust--On Secret Service chronicles the lives and times of four young Americans, from the war's early tremors in January 1861, through its bloody conclusion, Lincoln's assassination, and John Wilkes Booth's murder in May 1865.

The main players are Lon Price, the ardent abolitionist and rising-star operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and Margaret Miller, the beautiful, initially vacuous daughter of the South whose chief concern is that the war be over quickly so as not to interfere with Washington's upcoming social season. After a chance encounter in a Washington park, they are as repulsed by each other's political views as they are drawn together by an undeniable physical chemistry. As hostilities increase, the Pinkertons are pledged to the service of the Union and Lon becomes, ipso facto, a charter member in the U.S. Secret Service. When Margaret's stridently pro-slavery father is gunned down by a Pinkerton operative at a clandestine "Secesh" meeting, Margaret throws off her socialite mantle and vows revenge. She pledges allegiance to the South's most notorious female spy, the wealthy, well-connected, and equally well-endowed Rose Greenhow.

A parallel relationship develops between Margaret's unlikely best friend, the boyishly slight Hanna Siegel, a devout abolitionist who longs to prove herself on the battlefield, and the conflicted Captain Frederick Dasher, late of West Point, now of the First Virginia Cavalry, and protégé to Brigadier General "Jeb" Stuart. Played out before a scrim of battles, lives, fortunes, and reputations won and irreparably lost, Lon, Margaret, Hanna, and Fred cat-and-mouse their way through America's costliest war.

While the respective outcomes are somewhat predictable, what is not predictable is the degree to which the reader is captivated by Jakes's encyclopedic command of historical fact and his unmatched storytelling. The mingling of well-drawn fictional characters with nicely fleshed-out historical figures raises to rare levels circumstances that would, in lesser hands, seem mere contrivances. --Michael Hudson

From the Publisher:

12 1.5-hour cassettes

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