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The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives, and Spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, First Edition

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The true story of Kate Warne and the other women who served as Pinkertons, fulfilling the adage, "Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History." Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West O The true story of Kate Warne and the other women who served as Pinkertons, fulfilling the adage, "Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History." Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West Outlaws. But the true story of Kate Warne, an operative of the Pinkerton Agency and the first woman detective in America-and the stories of the other women who served their country as part of the storied crew of crime fighters-are not well known. For the first time, the stories of these intrepid women are collected here and richly illustrated throughout with numerous historical photographs. From Kate Warne's probable affair with Allan Pinkerton, and her part in saving the life of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to the lives and careers of the other women who broke out of the Cult of True Womanhood in pursuit of justice, these true stories add another dimension to our understanding of American history.


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The true story of Kate Warne and the other women who served as Pinkertons, fulfilling the adage, "Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History." Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West O The true story of Kate Warne and the other women who served as Pinkertons, fulfilling the adage, "Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History." Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West Outlaws. But the true story of Kate Warne, an operative of the Pinkerton Agency and the first woman detective in America-and the stories of the other women who served their country as part of the storied crew of crime fighters-are not well known. For the first time, the stories of these intrepid women are collected here and richly illustrated throughout with numerous historical photographs. From Kate Warne's probable affair with Allan Pinkerton, and her part in saving the life of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to the lives and careers of the other women who broke out of the Cult of True Womanhood in pursuit of justice, these true stories add another dimension to our understanding of American history.

30 review for The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives, and Spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, First Edition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    3.5 this deserves our attention stars A well researched nonfiction about the female operatives that worked in Allan Pinkerton's agency in the American Civil War period. I had no prior knowledge regarding this topic, but Chris Enss unfolds the lives of these women in such a manner that I want to learn more about the "pinks." This book isn't too heavy of a read, it's actually a fairly quick and easy reading experience. Transitions between chapters are smooth for the most part, perhaps my favorite 3.5 this deserves our attention stars A well researched nonfiction about the female operatives that worked in Allan Pinkerton's agency in the American Civil War period. I had no prior knowledge regarding this topic, but Chris Enss unfolds the lives of these women in such a manner that I want to learn more about the "pinks." This book isn't too heavy of a read, it's actually a fairly quick and easy reading experience. Transitions between chapters are smooth for the most part, perhaps my favorite chapters surrounded the protection of Abraham Lincoln. Loved the extensive bibliography lists at the back of the text. Thanks to NetGalley for an uncorrected digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    3.5 STARS (I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY) (Review Not on Blog) This is the perfect companion to the novel, Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister. This is the true account of the first women in Pinkerton. You have to give it to Pinkerton to open his door to women BUT even bigger props to the women who talked their way on to the team. These women were amazing and so brave . 3.5 STARS (I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY) (Review Not on Blog) This is the perfect companion to the novel, Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister. This is the true account of the first women in Pinkerton. You have to give it to Pinkerton to open his door to women BUT even bigger props to the women who talked their way on to the team. These women were amazing and so brave .

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The Pinks by Chris Enss When Kate Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in 1856 to apply for a job, she was not the only person seeing her capabilities to become the first female detective in America, non the less one of the the few women even working outside their own kitchen. Herein is an accounting of the many pioneering women to follow Warne’s lead, still to this day, as fearless protectors, investigators and nurturers to our nation and needs. Chaptered by cases, it’s quite interest The Pinks by Chris Enss When Kate Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in 1856 to apply for a job, she was not the only person seeing her capabilities to become the first female detective in America, non the less one of the the few women even working outside their own kitchen. Herein is an accounting of the many pioneering women to follow Warne’s lead, still to this day, as fearless protectors, investigators and nurturers to our nation and needs. Chaptered by cases, it’s quite interesting and often comical as to the methods used to attain confessions. Warne reminds me of Meryl Streep, in that she could “change her accent at will” and “cried on demand” as well as being “a master of disguises” in undercover characters. Her 12 year career is mostly documented, as Pinkerton’s Head was meticulous in his note taking and required the same of his operatives. Save but for the years lost in a fire, the records show an amazing set of minds being used to attain their goal of conviction and justice. A pre-force for the Secret Service, Pinkerton’s agency was charged with protecting many a noted figure, and Mz Warne deeply involved. Probably most notorious was her duty of protecting President Lincoln on that diversion train along with a crew of various other disguised agents. Most impressive. Active during the Civil War, Pinkerton’s force sleuthed out confederate spies and ferried their own gathered information acquired through their creative insertions into enemy territory. Also brought in for accolades are a cast of fierce women who also chose this life of endless intrigue and their own techniques for the end result. Given chapters of their own contributions, their braveness rivals the male partners they worked alongside. I found it refreshing that there appeared to be nothing but the utmost respect between these agents, no matter their origin. A big hats off to Allan Pinkerton for seeing beyond the sexism and racism of the era to hire people based solely on their skill set. (Something many employers still seem to be grappling with today, alas.) He assisted with the Underground Railroad and fought against the Fugitive Slave Act. This is quite an interesting book, in many aspects. Thank you Goodreads and Twodot Publishing for the entertaining read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 1st July 2017 I didn’t know much about the Pinkerton agency, other than that they were detectives. I didn’t know they protected President Lincoln and involved themselves in the events of the Civil War — that they worked as spies for the Union. I had no idea about the theatrical and psychological methods they used… and I didn’t know that Pinkerton employed women, before women were regularly employed, and considered them important and indispensable Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 1st July 2017 I didn’t know much about the Pinkerton agency, other than that they were detectives. I didn’t know they protected President Lincoln and involved themselves in the events of the Civil War — that they worked as spies for the Union. I had no idea about the theatrical and psychological methods they used… and I didn’t know that Pinkerton employed women, before women were regularly employed, and considered them important and indispensable operatives. This book delves into all of that by presenting little case histories of various capers the women were involved in. I say capers because some of them really do seem like that. It’s a little odd that the blurb mentions Kate Warne, the first woman employed by Pinkerton’s, in the context of an affair with Allan Pinkerton. Unless I somehow skipped a chapter, there’s no such evidence presented in this book. Likewise, it’s a little odd — and sexist — that the men are referred to by their surnames, while women are referred to either by their full names or, more commonly, by their first names. It seems disrespectful to treat them differently than the men. Otherwise, this is very readable and undoubtedly interesting. I kind of want a whole stack of novels about Kate Warne, now. Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The subject matter is great. I think it's very relevant to the movement taking place today and was definitely an interesting read. However, my one criticism, is that this book could have been better organized. Each chapter revolved around a female operative and the case she was assigned. The author or publisher seemingly choose to randomly put these chapter together. I feel like it would have made more sense, and been easier to follow if the chapters had been organized chronologically. All in al The subject matter is great. I think it's very relevant to the movement taking place today and was definitely an interesting read. However, my one criticism, is that this book could have been better organized. Each chapter revolved around a female operative and the case she was assigned. The author or publisher seemingly choose to randomly put these chapter together. I feel like it would have made more sense, and been easier to follow if the chapters had been organized chronologically. All in all, a fascinating read and well worth your time. Thanks to NetGalley for making this title available!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lorrie | books.and.darjeeling

    3.5 ⭐️ ~ Many know about the Pinkerton Detective Agency and their role in establishing the Secret Service. However, what isn’t usually spoke about is The Pinks, the first women detectives, operatives, and spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. This book explores the story of the first operative, Kate Warne, and some of her fellow operatives: R.C. Potter, Hattie Lewis Lawton, M. Barkley, Elizabeth Baker, Mary Touvestre, Elizabeth Van Lew, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, L.L. Lucille, and Mis 3.5 ⭐️ ~ Many know about the Pinkerton Detective Agency and their role in establishing the Secret Service. However, what isn’t usually spoke about is The Pinks, the first women detectives, operatives, and spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. This book explores the story of the first operative, Kate Warne, and some of her fellow operatives: R.C. Potter, Hattie Lewis Lawton, M. Barkley, Elizabeth Baker, Mary Touvestre, Elizabeth Van Lew, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, L.L. Lucille, and Miss Seaton. It explains how members of the Pinks helped bring to a halt the career of Rose Greenhow, a Confederate spy. It also discusses Allan Pinkerton’s vision to have women operatives in the Pinkertons at a time when many thought that women did not have the qualities necessary for these job positions. He supported the Pinks and the unique value they brought to the organization. These women literary paved the way for women who would follow in the future in government positions. It isn’t a comprehensive study but I found it so interesting that I would like to know more about these individuals – The Pinks.

  7. 4 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    Decades before any police department in the United States allowed women to be detectives, Allan Pinkerton, of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, hired a woman named Kate Warne. It was a decision he never regretted, because Ms. Warne proved to be one of his best, most versatile operatives. (Pinkerton detectives were called "operatives", because the term "detective" at the time was greatly associated with police corruption.) It was indeed eye-opening to read about all the cases Kate Warne an Decades before any police department in the United States allowed women to be detectives, Allan Pinkerton, of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, hired a woman named Kate Warne. It was a decision he never regretted, because Ms. Warne proved to be one of his best, most versatile operatives. (Pinkerton detectives were called "operatives", because the term "detective" at the time was greatly associated with police corruption.) It was indeed eye-opening to read about all the cases Kate Warne and other female operatives worked on, because one did not expect such clever schemes and role playing to be going on "back then". Many cases also involved spying during the Civil War. Moreover, Kate Warne and her colleagues were the first Secret Service agents, protecting Abraham Lincoln. Really interesting reading for private detective aficionados, Civil War buffs, and those who love stories about pioneering women who rejected traditional roles and duties. (Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. I really wanted to love this book but it sadly lacked in the execution. Much of the text is directly lifted from other sources, especially in the second half of the book. Many stories contained much more information about the male Pinkerton operatives than the females, and in a couple of chapters the bulk of the text just talked about Civil War battles and ships. Hopefully this is all fixed before the final edi I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. I really wanted to love this book but it sadly lacked in the execution. Much of the text is directly lifted from other sources, especially in the second half of the book. Many stories contained much more information about the male Pinkerton operatives than the females, and in a couple of chapters the bulk of the text just talked about Civil War battles and ships. Hopefully this is all fixed before the final edition is published because the world needs these women's stories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Very interesting subjects, but the writing was disjointed and inconsistent. I found the organization of the chapters confusing as well. Jumped around in time, and revisited the same people as different missions out of order. I wanted to like this more and I may look into some of the referenced materials for deeper understanding of the operatives mentioned in the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    I recently finished Greer Macallister's fun novel about Kate Warne, Girl in Disguise, about the first woman hired as a Pinkerton detective. Normally I would prefer to read real history rather than fictionalized, but it seemed that there was little known about Warne, according to Macallister. So I was pleased to see this new non-fiction book about Warne and those who followed in her footsteps. Much of the book does focus on Warne and there is actually quite a lot that is known about her. The book I recently finished Greer Macallister's fun novel about Kate Warne, Girl in Disguise, about the first woman hired as a Pinkerton detective. Normally I would prefer to read real history rather than fictionalized, but it seemed that there was little known about Warne, according to Macallister. So I was pleased to see this new non-fiction book about Warne and those who followed in her footsteps. Much of the book does focus on Warne and there is actually quite a lot that is known about her. The book details individual cases that Warne and the other Pinkerton detectives (Pinks), including protecting Abraham Lincoln as he traveled to his first inauguration. Some of the cases are Civil War related and have more to do with spying than detecting. For my money, author Chris Enss saved the best for last -- the final chapter is Kate Warne's swan song and it's a doozy, with poison, adultery, and even a gig as a fortune teller for Warne, who specialized in adopting false identities. There's even a happy ending. (Thanks to TwoDot publishing and NetGalley for a digital review copy.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Very interesting book about the various missions "The Pinks" , as the female Pinkerton agents were known as, and the immeasurable contribution they made for our country. From disguises to coded cipher messages these women got information to Allan Pinkerton that helped save President-elect Lincoln's life and countless lives during the Civil War. An amazing group of women who deserve a prominent spot in the history of our nation. Very interesting book about the various missions "The Pinks" , as the female Pinkerton agents were known as, and the immeasurable contribution they made for our country. From disguises to coded cipher messages these women got information to Allan Pinkerton that helped save President-elect Lincoln's life and countless lives during the Civil War. An amazing group of women who deserve a prominent spot in the history of our nation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cassie Troja

    **I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.** Introduction The Pinks is a book about the women that worked for Allan Pinkerton and his Pinkerton Detective Agency in the years before, during, and after the American Civil War. The author makes it very clear that in hiring these women, especially Kate Warne, Pinkerton was far ahead of his time. Kate Warne led the Pinkerton women - or "Pinks" - and was a master of disguise and espionage. Her actions, as we **I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.** Introduction The Pinks is a book about the women that worked for Allan Pinkerton and his Pinkerton Detective Agency in the years before, during, and after the American Civil War. The author makes it very clear that in hiring these women, especially Kate Warne, Pinkerton was far ahead of his time. Kate Warne led the Pinkerton women - or "Pinks" - and was a master of disguise and espionage. Her actions, as well as those of the women in her network, saved thousands of lives in the war and paved the way for women in the police force (although that would not truly become commonplace for over 100 years later). The story Kate Warne had gumption, initiative, and courage. She was resourceful, creative, and perhaps just the right amount of crazy. She fit right in with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, despite being the first woman on the payroll. Her disguises and acting abilities were masterful and crucial to Pinkerton cases involving everything form murder and robbery to espionage and conspiracy. Allan Pinkerton credits her efforts with saving thousands of lives during the Civil War, as well as solving many high-stakes cases. This book provides the harrowing detail of some of the most notorious cases of the Pinkerton ladies. Kate had her hand in all of them, although there were other women, some of whom paid for their efforts with their lives. This is an illuminating tale of one of the parts of history that deserves more of our attention and respect. Literary analysis This book was very well written with only a couple of very minor grammatical errors. It has been very well edited for form and grammar. In that respect it is a joy to read. This book is also very well researched, relying in large part on the personal recollections of Allan Pinkerton himself, among others. Each chapter is a unique story, and as such each chapter has it's own bibliography. This can make the book feel a bit disjointed, but goes to show how thorough the author was in their research. The biggest criticism I have for this book is the ending. It's far too abrupt! The author seems to make an attempt at a summarization ending in the final story. It could, however, benefit from an epilogue of some sort. The ending feels rushed, as though the author wasn't quite sure how to end so they just included the summarization with the final story. It was a quick read, but one might think a bit too quick. Conclusion This is a fascinating and quick read! It is well-written, thoroughly researched, and certainly worth your time. I recommend this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aoife

    I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers/author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Pinks is a non-fiction book about the women who worked with the Pinkerton Detective Agency - the first agency to employ women as detectives. This book is very interesting, and also a short, quick read. I found the different cases the women worked on pretty amazing (aka travelling with president-elect Abraham Lincoln to ensure his safety) and I really loved that this actually I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers/author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Pinks is a non-fiction book about the women who worked with the Pinkerton Detective Agency - the first agency to employ women as detectives. This book is very interesting, and also a short, quick read. I found the different cases the women worked on pretty amazing (aka travelling with president-elect Abraham Lincoln to ensure his safety) and I really loved that this actually happened, and in the 1800s rather than the 1900s. I thought at times the book came off a bit ‘hero worship’ with Allan Pinkerton, who employed the women. A few times there was mentions of how great he was for daring to employ women, and I was “okay, I get it.” Some of the stories were a little bit over the top which does make me understand why some people thought that Pinkerton might have made them up. Some cases as well depended on the agents messing with a person’s mental capabilities and often driving them mad with fear or grief until they confessed, which did make me a little bit uncomfortable at times. Overall though this was a fantastic read and a bit of history I had no idea about!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    (NOTE: I won an advance copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway) This book is composed of a series of anecdotes about several women who worked for Allan Pinkerton's detective agency and several who acted as Union spies during the Civil War. The title is a bit misleading because the greatest focus is on the Civil War spying. Dangerous as that was, the few stories about the detective work were actually more interesting - although their techniques would never hold up in today's law courts. Times h (NOTE: I won an advance copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway) This book is composed of a series of anecdotes about several women who worked for Allan Pinkerton's detective agency and several who acted as Union spies during the Civil War. The title is a bit misleading because the greatest focus is on the Civil War spying. Dangerous as that was, the few stories about the detective work were actually more interesting - although their techniques would never hold up in today's law courts. Times have changed, generally for the better. Part of the problem is that the Pinkerton records were destroyed in a fire, so Enss is mostly dependent on the memoirs of Pinkerton, written long after the events. The style of the writing and the events themselves make it difficult to tell whether the author or Pinkerton himself may have gotten a little carried away with embellishment. All in all, these are entertaining stories, but I would be hesitant to call them pure history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Interesting account of the ladies who were Pinkerton agents. Mr Pinkerton is to be congratulated for being a man ahead of his time and for realizing a woman could work as a spy or agent. Each chapter is well researched. The book does read like a history book and not a narrative but it does hold your interest

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A wonderful review of women who helped start the Pinkerton Detective Agency! The stories give a window into what is involved in keeping officials safe and solving crimes long before electronics were invented. The talent required was amazing and they shined!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    The first female detectives A great book that chronicles the women of the Pinkerton detective agency. Each woman that was hired has a chapter devoted to her and her skill as an operative and patriotic duty to the USA. Interesting reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    "The Pinks" is a collection of true crime and spy stories and some biographies. The author talked about several of Kate Warne's cases and about various other women who worked as spies during the Civil War. We're told a little about Pinkerton, his detective agency, and how he hired Kate Warne in 1861. We get details about a couple cases that Kate helped solve (before and after the war). These cases were interesting, especially as the Pinkerton team was hired more to gain confessions than gather c "The Pinks" is a collection of true crime and spy stories and some biographies. The author talked about several of Kate Warne's cases and about various other women who worked as spies during the Civil War. We're told a little about Pinkerton, his detective agency, and how he hired Kate Warne in 1861. We get details about a couple cases that Kate helped solve (before and after the war). These cases were interesting, especially as the Pinkerton team was hired more to gain confessions than gather clues. But most of the chapters talked about spying just before and during the Civil War. Kate Warne, Hettie Lawton, Vinne Ream, Elizabeth Baker, Mary Touvestre, Elizabeth Van Lew, and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker were all involved in spying for the Union during the war. I don't think that they all worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, though. Some of the chapters described details about what the woman did and discovered, but some missions were covered only in general terms. The chapter on Dr. Walker focused more on her ambitions and what happened after the war than on what she did as a spy. One chapter was more about submarines and the battles involving the Merrimack and the Monitor than about the women who passed on information about the submarines. I'd expected more details about Kate Warne's life or a focus on the detective cases involving the first female Pinkerton operatives. Though the book focused more on spying and gave only a brief look at these women, it was interesting to learn some of the things these women did. I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Clagett

    When Kate Warne, a widow with no children, walked into the offices of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to ask Allan Pinkerton for a job in 1856, he thought she wanted a position as a secretary. No. She wanted to be a detective, an operative. She told him women could be most useful in worming out secrets which would be impossible for a male detective. “Women,” she said, “would be able to befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals and gain their confidence. … Women have an ey When Kate Warne, a widow with no children, walked into the offices of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to ask Allan Pinkerton for a job in 1856, he thought she wanted a position as a secretary. No. She wanted to be a detective, an operative. She told him women could be most useful in worming out secrets which would be impossible for a male detective. “Women,” she said, “would be able to befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals and gain their confidence. … Women have an eye for detail and are excellent observers.” In “The Pinks,” author Chris Enss offers an engaging, informative and often surprising look at Warne, the first woman detective in America, as well as the handful of other female Pinkerton detectives whose skills, daring and sacrifice have been little known until now. Besides Warne, who helped protect President-elect Lincoln from an assassination attempt, other remarkable stories Enss tells include operative Hattie Lawton, captured in Virginia and thrown into a Confederate prison for spying, and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker who received the Medal of Honor for her efforts both as a surgeon on the battlefield and as a spy. Enss uses newspaper accounts, government documents, diaries, journals, photograghs, and Allan Pinkerton’s own reminisces to compile these and other true stories of bravery, subterfuge and close calls prior to and during the Civil War. Sadly, Enss points out, a fire destroyed many files of the Pinkerton Agency in 1870.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sugarpuss O'Shea

    All In all, I enjoyed this book. Then again, I usually always enjoy learning about kick-ass women I knew nothing about. Kate Warne is just such a woman. She was integral in getting President-Elect Lincoln to DC safely. (Try reading chapters 4 & 5 without being riveted, even though you already know Lincoln makes it to his inauguration.) This book is laid out as 9 individual vignettes--chapters 4& 5 being the lone exception, as they straddle the train ride Lincoln took to Washington. The only one t All In all, I enjoyed this book. Then again, I usually always enjoy learning about kick-ass women I knew nothing about. Kate Warne is just such a woman. She was integral in getting President-Elect Lincoln to DC safely. (Try reading chapters 4 & 5 without being riveted, even though you already know Lincoln makes it to his inauguration.) This book is laid out as 9 individual vignettes--chapters 4& 5 being the lone exception, as they straddle the train ride Lincoln took to Washington. The only one that was not germane, was chapter 9. There was no tie in to if Dr Mary Walker was actually a Pink, and while I am glad to have met her too, I don't know why she was a part of this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    enricocioni

    I'm sorry to say that I found this book disappointing. I decided to read it because it sounded right up my street: it's about female spies in nineteenth-century America, with a particular focus on the Civil War era, and on the women who worked for Allan Pinkerton's National Detective Agency--Kate Warne first and foremost. And it does contain tales of deception and derring-do, improbable disguises, and foiled assassinations, and it does shed a light on unjustly forgotten women of American history I'm sorry to say that I found this book disappointing. I decided to read it because it sounded right up my street: it's about female spies in nineteenth-century America, with a particular focus on the Civil War era, and on the women who worked for Allan Pinkerton's National Detective Agency--Kate Warne first and foremost. And it does contain tales of deception and derring-do, improbable disguises, and foiled assassinations, and it does shed a light on unjustly forgotten women of American history. However, I don't think Enss succeeds in telling these stories in a gripping, exciting way. At first, I thought it might be that she is simply not a very good writer. Indeed, she tends to over-use adverbs and adjectives, and, in the chapter on Dr. Mary Walker, there were far too many quotes from other recent books about this woman, which struck me as lazy. However, overall, Enss's writing is fine, and I did enjoy some parts, particularly the chapters concerning Confederate spy Rose Greenhow and Union spy Elizabeth van Lew. It's worth noting that a lot more is known about Greenhow and van Lew than about any other woman in this book--enough to fill half of another book about compelling women of the Civil War, Karen Abbott's brilliant Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. I wonder, then, if the problem isn't so much that Enss doesn't know how to tell a gripping tale, but that not enough is known about most of the women she talks about to make their stories compelling. In the introduction, Enss points out that, because spies make a career out of subterfuge and misdirection, often using different aliases even within the same mission, it's difficult to find out much about them. Moreover, many of Pinkerton's files were destroyed in a fire. So, unlike Greenhow and van Lew, who get a chapter each, Kate Warne remains a cypher, despite appearing in five of the book's ten chapters. At the end of the book, all I know about her are the bare bones of her biography, and the actions she performed for Pinkerton, but zero in terms of her psychology: she is not a three-dimensional person, merely an interesting character. Even in the closing chapter, detailing Warne's last great mission--on which she foils an attempted murder through a complicated stratagem that involves her posing as a medium--I found it very difficult to care about her--because I did not feel like I knew her. Now, this is, partly, bad luck for Enss. Partly, however, I think that a different writer would have figured out an imaginative way of making Kate Warne compelling, despite how little is known about her. One of my favourite books of all time, Julia Blackburn's Threads, focusses on an obscure early-twentieth-century fisherman-artist named John Craske, whose biography is so full of gaps that all that is known about him could be easily written on the back of a matchbox. What Blackburn did, then, was to dedicate much of the book to the actual research she did, describing her visits to desolate English seaside towns, her conversations with fishermen who'd never even met Craske, and moments from her own life that she thought could give her insight in the psychology of people in Craske's life. And, in the end, out of all these disparate materials, Craske does emerge as someone the reader cares for--and, at the same time, the book becomes both a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the work of a non-fiction writer, and an exploration of the artifice of reconstructing someone else's life on paper. Overall, The Pinks isn't terrible. It's very short, and, if you're just looking for the bare facts about Kate Warne and her colleagues, then this book will do fine--I have no reason to suspect that Enss's research was lacking in any way. However, if you're looking for more--look elsewhere. I was given a free ebook copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Review originally published on my blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty: http://www.literaryfeline.com/2017/08... My thoughts: After listening to Greer Macallister's Girl in Disguise, a fictionalized account of Kate Warne's life as a Pinkerton operative, I eagerly dove into The Pinks by Chris Enss. History fascinates me, especially when it is about women who stand out from the norm during their time. Kate Warne is one such woman. Just the name Pinkerton itself tends to pique my interest. The Pinks: The Review originally published on my blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty: http://www.literaryfeline.com/2017/08... My thoughts: After listening to Greer Macallister's Girl in Disguise, a fictionalized account of Kate Warne's life as a Pinkerton operative, I eagerly dove into The Pinks by Chris Enss. History fascinates me, especially when it is about women who stand out from the norm during their time. Kate Warne is one such woman. Just the name Pinkerton itself tends to pique my interest. The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives, and Spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency offers a look into some of the cases Kate Warne and her associates were involved in early in the agency's life. Allan Pinkerton raised a few eyebrows when he decided to hire Kate Warne in 1856, his first female operative. She became the first female detective in the U.S. as a matter of fact. Not much is known about Kate Warne, unfortunately, even today, as Chris Enss points out in her book. Many of the records about her exploits are believed to have been destroyed in a fire. What is known, however, is enough to show that she was very capable and gifted in her craft. She seemed to have a way about her that encouraged people to open up to her--and she used to it well to take down criminals, learn of plots against the president or country, and solve whatever mystery was presented to her. While Kate Warne is the main focus on The Pinks given the amount of page space devoted to her exploits, other talented operatives are mentioned, and their stories shared. I was happy to see mention of Hattie Lewis Lawton, who also appears in Macallister's novel. Another name that caught my immediate interest was Union spy Elizabeth van Lew. The Pinks is well researched, and, while a bit dry, was an engrossing read. I wouldn't have minded more cohesiveness between each chapter, each chapter reading more like like individual stories or vignettes. Nor were they in any sort of chronological order. That could be just a personal preference on my part, however. Overall, I liked The Pinks and found it to be informative. At a time when women were expected to play a more traditional part in society, the women featured in the book were among the pioneers for the roles that would open up to women in law enforcement type agencies in the years to come.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    I wasn't sure what to expect with this as it is a rather short book, and I realized from the introduction that has some overt advertising for the Pinkerton agency that it is a bit skewed. Nothing annoying, but it is obvious the book was done with the cooperation of the agency and its archives and there is a definite pro-Pinkerton vibe to the writing. That being said, given what they accomplished historically, I can't see anything wrong with touting their successes. Equally laudable was Pinkerton I wasn't sure what to expect with this as it is a rather short book, and I realized from the introduction that has some overt advertising for the Pinkerton agency that it is a bit skewed. Nothing annoying, but it is obvious the book was done with the cooperation of the agency and its archives and there is a definite pro-Pinkerton vibe to the writing. That being said, given what they accomplished historically, I can't see anything wrong with touting their successes. Equally laudable was Pinkerton's forward thinking (for his time) in the way he hired women detectives recognizing the skills of those who applied but also realizing women could go places men could not and would not be taken seriously in many aspects, so they did make the perfect spies. Many of the stories are fantastically written and I think pulled from case files that Pinkerton himself kept as I recognize some of the titles as those that showed up when I did some searches on Pinkerton in the past. Kate Warne's stories in particular are fantastic and so adventurous. There are also stories of catching Southern belle spies and protecting Lincoln on his tours of the country. The only reason I deducted a star was that there were a few stories where the author relies mainly on newspaper articles from the time to discuss the action surrounding the work of a Pinkerton. The quotes are often just pieces from articles and it was difficult to follow the entirety of what was going on as it was at times convoluted (I'm thinking of a story about submarine warfare experimented with in the Civil War) and I think could have been fascinating if it hadn't been so dry. Other than that, a fun quick read with some of the stories so adventurous they seemed to belong in a Sherlock Holmes book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    TammyJo Eckhart

    I was excited by the premise of this book -- a historical look at female detectives that worked for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the first to hire women and therefore a major milestone in law enforcement and government service for women. Kate Warne, the woman who marched in and demanded a job, was highlighted on the back of the book but the table of contents had me guessing that I'd meet 12 lady detectives in all. Sadly there were only 7 in the book and that was the just the beginnin I was excited by the premise of this book -- a historical look at female detectives that worked for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the first to hire women and therefore a major milestone in law enforcement and government service for women. Kate Warne, the woman who marched in and demanded a job, was highlighted on the back of the book but the table of contents had me guessing that I'd meet 12 lady detectives in all. Sadly there were only 7 in the book and that was the just the beginning of the let down. The titles of the 10 chapters all begin like this: "Operative" then a female name. Of the 12 names, 5 of them turned out to be merely aliases that Kate Warne used. So then I thought "Maybe this are arranged in chronological order but no, as I continued reading the chapters skipped back and forth within the two decades of the 1850s and 1860s. Instead the book was more organized around cases and much of what was written were Pinkerton's impressions versus the reports of the female operatives. When their voices are given text, it was very interesting to read. Let me list the other "Pinks" (female agents of the agency) in case you might be looking for information about any of them. Note that the quality of and detailed nature of the information varied a great deal. Kate Warne Hattie Lewis Lawton Vinnie Ream Elizabeth Baker Mary Touvestre Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Miss Seaton (no first name given) A good deal of the time the book felt more like a praise of Pinkerton than a history of the female detectives. While the history of Pinkerton's agency is interesting, it wasn't what I was expecting in this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    In 1856, barely six years after starting his eponymous agency, Allan Pinkerton hired the first woman operative, Kate Warne. She basically walked into his office and told him that he needed her; turns out, he did. Several of the chapters are about her cases; some feature other ‘Pinks’, while some are about female spies who were not on the payroll. One was even a spy for the Confederacy side during the Civil War, whereas the Pinkerton company was working for the Union government. The stories are l In 1856, barely six years after starting his eponymous agency, Allan Pinkerton hired the first woman operative, Kate Warne. She basically walked into his office and told him that he needed her; turns out, he did. Several of the chapters are about her cases; some feature other ‘Pinks’, while some are about female spies who were not on the payroll. One was even a spy for the Confederacy side during the Civil War, whereas the Pinkerton company was working for the Union government. The stories are less of detecting than of spying; the female operatives were able to strike up friendships with the wives of rebel higher ups and even get themselves invited to stay in their homes. Apparently, at that time, no one expected a woman to be anything but a pretty face with no brain. They were able to overhear rebel plans and even be taken to observe the latest in Confederacy weaponry, including the Merrimack. My favorite section was the one where Warne escorted a disguised Lincoln to his inauguration – he had to go through the heart of rebel sentiment. We don’t get to find out anything about the agents other than the bare bones; the stories are told in plain language with no frills. Each chapter is quite short; some are filled out with facts about the Civil War, for instance, there is a section all about the Monitor and the Merrimack and the experiments with early submarines. I actually would have expected it to be in the Young Adult section of a library. Inspiring stories for girls with a side of making historical facts go down easily. Three stars out of five.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives and Spies With The Pinkerton National Dectective Agency by Chris Enss surprised with the level of dangerous situations that the women were put in. They risked their lives, while often doing espionage. The founder of the Pinkerton Agency Allan Pinkerton kept copious notes on his employees but most of the information was lost in a fire. Mr. Pinkerton decided that any employee that he hired should be dependable and having valuable talents that would The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives and Spies With The Pinkerton National Dectective Agency by Chris Enss surprised with the level of dangerous situations that the women were put in. They risked their lives, while often doing espionage. The founder of the Pinkerton Agency Allan Pinkerton kept copious notes on his employees but most of the information was lost in a fire. Mr. Pinkerton decided that any employee that he hired should be dependable and having valuable talents that would work well with what was needed for the job. He did not put them in secretarial jobs but often they worked as under cover spies. He hired Kate Warne despite the common belief at that time women should stay at home and take care of their family instead of having paid employment. Later on, Mr. Pinkerton was the first of the businesses then to hire a biracial woman. I enjoyed these stories and the great photographs connected to them. The author used long lists of footnotes which showed that tremendous amount of research that went into this book. The text size was just a little smaller than what is comfortable for my eyes. I received this Advanced Reading Copy by making a selection from Amazon Vine books but that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in this review. I also posted this review only on sites meant for reading not for selling.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    As a modern feminist*, I've always been fascinated by women of past eras who flouted convention to live the lives they desired, over the ones society deemed correct. The legendary Pinkerton Agency has the distinction of being an early proponent of women in the workforce, and reaped the rewards of it, with women like Kate Warne and Hattie Lawton proving their worth in gold. I always love a good story starring Pinks in Skirts. This particular book is not that kind of reading though. it's a history As a modern feminist*, I've always been fascinated by women of past eras who flouted convention to live the lives they desired, over the ones society deemed correct. The legendary Pinkerton Agency has the distinction of being an early proponent of women in the workforce, and reaped the rewards of it, with women like Kate Warne and Hattie Lawton proving their worth in gold. I always love a good story starring Pinks in Skirts. This particular book is not that kind of reading though. it's a history, with character sketches and histories of individual Lady Detectives. Enss writes like an academic, but this is no bloodless textbook either. Each essay draws a complete picture of how these women served their employer, and their country, in good context. It's not the kind of thing i'd usually read in a sitting, but if you enjoy having books about that you can dip in an out of, this one might be for you. *fem·i·nism -ˈfeməˌnizəm noun: feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

    Pretty in Pinkerton. Kate Warne waltzed herself into Allan Pinkerton's office and asked for a job as an operative. Less than 24 hours later, she had it; Pinkerton, who was no fool, realized that hiring Warne and other women could expand his capacity and crime-solving ability exponentially. Enss went to great lengths to dig up all the dirt here, and what deliciously dirty dirt it is: from guarding President-elect Lincoln on trains to posing as a fortuneteller, Kate Warne did some of THE most ridic Pretty in Pinkerton. Kate Warne waltzed herself into Allan Pinkerton's office and asked for a job as an operative. Less than 24 hours later, she had it; Pinkerton, who was no fool, realized that hiring Warne and other women could expand his capacity and crime-solving ability exponentially. Enss went to great lengths to dig up all the dirt here, and what deliciously dirty dirt it is: from guarding President-elect Lincoln on trains to posing as a fortuneteller, Kate Warne did some of THE most ridiculous things to help Pinkerton crack cases. Joined by a bevy of other operatives--including Hattie Lewis Lawton, believed to be the first biracial woman to serve as a detective--Warne and her divsion teamed up with Pinkerton's men to solicit confessions, ferret out Confederate war plans, help Union prisoners-of-war escape, and keep other young women from making really stupid mistakes. Riddled with footnotes and endnotes, Enss's collection of tales is a quick read that will delight fans of both history and true crime, and is a solid add for all but the smallest library collections.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    In 1856, Kate Warne was hired as the first female Pinkerton Detective, the first female detective period. Ms. Enss’ book tells the story of several cases solved through the assistance of Ms. Warne and other female detectives in the employ of the Pinkerton agency. What it doesn’t do is tell the story of the women themselves. There are no personal comments on the stories from the women themselves and instead there are several quotes from newspapers or other sources. I wanted to hear about them as In 1856, Kate Warne was hired as the first female Pinkerton Detective, the first female detective period. Ms. Enss’ book tells the story of several cases solved through the assistance of Ms. Warne and other female detectives in the employ of the Pinkerton agency. What it doesn’t do is tell the story of the women themselves. There are no personal comments on the stories from the women themselves and instead there are several quotes from newspapers or other sources. I wanted to hear about them as women breaking in to a male dominated field. Instead I got a lot of facts. But, my biggest peeve with the book was that the stories were not told in chronological order. This didn’t make sense to me but led to an overall feeling that the book did not receive the attention it should have from its author and editor. A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and Rowman & Littlefield in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Reed

    I just ordered The Pinks by Chris Enss and I can't wait to read it! I've known Chris for years and have read several of her books, all of which are about the best "reads" you're going to find anywhere. Not only are they well researched, but she puts you so close to these people you're sure you're right there with them. The stories are amazingly warm and human, and you come away with the feeling that you were there as these stories unfolded. I love books where I learn something new while I'm enjo I just ordered The Pinks by Chris Enss and I can't wait to read it! I've known Chris for years and have read several of her books, all of which are about the best "reads" you're going to find anywhere. Not only are they well researched, but she puts you so close to these people you're sure you're right there with them. The stories are amazingly warm and human, and you come away with the feeling that you were there as these stories unfolded. I love books where I learn something new while I'm enjoying myself--that's how it is with all Chris' books. Another I'll recommend is "Entertaining Women," Actresses, Dancers, and Singers in the Old West. There are the names I thought I'd known about (and found out so much more), as well as many I'd never heard of, but now I feel close to them. THey're moving as well as entertaining--and make no mistake, they are entertaining. You will want to stay up all night reading.

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