How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, pictures by Valentina Belloni

Published by Albert Whitman and Company


Summary:  When Kate Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in 1856, Allan Pinkerton had never considered hiring a woman to be a detective.  But Warne convinced him that women could go undercover in a variety of ways that men could not, and soon she was a valuable member of the world’s first detective agency.  She successfully worked on a number of cases, but her most famous was helping to thwart an assassination plot against Abraham Lincoln as Lincoln traveled from Illinois to Washington, D.C. to begin his term as President.  Kate infiltrated the group that was planning to kill the President, and learned that they had vowed to not let him leave Baltimore alive.  She and other detectives from the agency worked all night to make sure Lincoln got safely through the city, onto Philadelphia, and finally to Washington.  An author’s note tells a bit more about Kate Warne’s life, although little is known; a brief bibliography is also included.  32 pages; grades 1-4.

Pros:  Kate’s escapades make interesting and exciting reading, particularly given how difficult it was for women to have successful careers in her time.  The bright cartoon-like illustrations are appealing.  See last year’s The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan for an entertaining fictional account of Warne’s life.

Cons:  It’s frustrating that Kate Warne’s early life is a complete unknown.

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