Pinkerton's Great Detective by Beau Riffenburgh
The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland

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There is no question that the demands of his job colored his personality, raising the question of whether his ego was so inflated because he had earned such fame so early, or because he never did miss getting a confession. The author winds up with what amounts to a philosophical shrug.
-Washington Times

Synopsis

The story of the legendary Pinkerton detective who took down the Molly Maguires and the Wild Bunch

The operatives of the Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency were renowned for their skills of subterfuge, infiltration, and investigation, none more so than James McParland. So thrilling were McParland’s cases that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle included the cunning detective in a story along with Sherlock Holmes.

Riffenburgh digs deep into the recently released Pinkerton archives to present the first biography of McParland and the agency’s cloak-and-dagger methods. Both action packed and meticulously researched, Pinkerton’s Great Detective brings readers along on McParland’s most challenging cases: from young McParland’s infiltration of the murderous Molly Maguires gang in the case that launched his career to his hunt for the notorious Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch to his controversial investigation of the Western Federation of Mines in the assassination of Idaho’s former governor.

Filled with outlaws and criminals, detectives and lawmen, Pinkerton’s Great Detective shines a light upon the celebrated secretive agency and its premier sleuth.
 

About Beau Riffenburgh

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Beau Riffenburgh has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge, where he was a member of the academic staff. He has written numerous books on exploration, including Shackleton’s Forgotten Expedition. He lives in Llanarthne, Wales, UK.
 
Published November 14, 2013 by Penguin Books. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Pinkerton's Great Detective
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average
on Oct 29 2013

Not quite a reassessment but a thorough consideration of two of McParland’s major court cases and the investigations that preceded them.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Ben Macintyre on Dec 20 2013

...Riffenburgh wanders into the realm of speculation in search of a moral impulse behind McParland’s campaign against the Molly Maguires, suggesting he “might even have seen it as an opportunity to altruistically help the Irish Catholic mining community.” There is little evidence to support this...

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Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Muriel Dobbin on Jan 29 2014

There is no question that the demands of his job colored his personality, raising the question of whether his ego was so inflated because he had earned such fame so early, or because he never did miss getting a confession. The author winds up with what amounts to a philosophical shrug.

Read Full Review of Pinkerton's Great Detective: ... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Reader Rating for Pinkerton's Great Detective
65%

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