Publication Date: September 6, 2013
A Spy for the Union by Corey Recko is the story of the New York Police Officer turned Pinkerton Detective turned spy for the Union forces, Timothy Webster. As a Pinkerton, he was a member of a team that uncovered a plot in 1861 to kill then President, Abraham Lincoln. As a Union spy he made valuable high-level Confederate connections before betrayal led to his execution.
There are books that demand readers have a specific interest in an era of history to enjoy them. They are dry and difficult to absorb and are bound by minutia. A Spy for the Union by Corey Recko appears at first to be that boring and hard to sop up read. Once the stage is set and the author turns to the meat of the life of Timothy Webster, the narrative comes alive. Webster is clearly someone that began as a passion for Recko and developed into a book that had to be written. A Spy for the Union was clearly written to educate, entertain and honor a man who bravely risked everything for the benefit of those he swore to serve.
Timothy Webster was a man who knew how to get what he wanted. Having honed his detective skills working with powerful men, he was a person who honored the concept of position of trust. He had a sense of what worked and how to get the information he needed. Recko is an author who assumes his readers are coming from a place of minimal knowledge and lays out the history of each step Webster takes. Readers familiar with the time period will find the information perhaps not the best presented history lesson I’ve seen. For those readers who want the adventure of this real life character, they will get the full experience. Recko lays out the time in detail and then the Pinkertons in detail and other historically relevant influencers to Webster’s career trajectory. Where the context is pedantic, it’s with purpose so instead of eliminating it could have perhaps been edited in an efficient way that would not interfere with its function.
The details of how Webster was caught fall into the category of truth being stranger than fiction making A Spy for the Union a must read for any history buff. Though it drags at points, A Spy for the Union is beautifully written. Recko is either a wonderful self-editor and hired a good one as there are areas where the book reads like the best fiction. Webster was a dedicated agent who made a number of dangerous trips into enemy territory and the risk he took was vivid on the page. The details of travel were quite interesting. Let’s not kid ourselves, the title gives away what ultimately happens to Timothy Webster, as does the description, but the journey is what is really compelling.
If you are a person interested in Civil War history, spies or just really interesting stories of early life in the United States in the time of crisis, A Spy for the Union is a must read. Pick it up today.
Read an excerpt and buy A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster by Corey Recko on