Friday, June 17, 2005


I swear, I treat books like other people treat drugs. One is just a gateway to the next. For example, late last night I finished reading this one: The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief, by Ben Macintyre. "The model for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty, Adam Worth (1844-1902) was one of the greatest thieves of the Victorian era. Macintyre's entertaining biography traces how the American-born German Jew became the "godfather" of his era."

It's very interesting, and part of it discusses Worth's relationship with the Pinkerton brothers. Lying in bed, I thought: huh, I sort of know who the Pinkertons were, but I don't know much about them. I wonder if there are any books about them.

Of course, it's 2am and I should really turn off the light and go to sleep. But that's the dangerous thing about shopping online. The stores never close. So I get out of bed - good thing Max is a heavy sleeper - and get online, and I quickly turned up this:

The Eye That Never Sleeps: A History of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, by Frank Morn.
Apparently the term "private eye" was coined in response to the Pinkerton's logo, an unblinking eye. Looks good to me, so credit card number and away we go.
But of course, I couldn't stop there. Amazon (damn them!) has those pesky links to other books on related topics, so when I saw this one, I had to click on it:

The Encyclopedia of Police Science, by William G. Bailey. 143 entries covering police duties and techniques, persons and organizations, police issues, crimes, etc. Definitions plus ample historical and conceptual background.

Mmmm, sort of interesting, but not quite my thing. But what's this?

Escapade, by Walter Satterthwait. Set in the 1920s, Satterthwait's novel mixes spiritualism with a locked-room murder mystery in a tale featuring Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and hero Phil Beaumont, a Pinkerton Operative.

A novel about fictional Pinkerton detectives? And spiritualism, too - another pet topic of mine. Hey, it's only a few bucks, why not.

Other related titles?

The War Between the Spies: A History of Espionage During the American Civil War, by Alan Axelrod.
According the publisher's blurb, the Pinkertons spied for the Yankees. Wow, I didn't know that. Still, I'm not a Civil War buff. Growing up in states where they were still flying that damn rebel flag over goverment buildings kinda ruined any romance about The War of Northern Aggression for me. Still, the history of spying does interest me. (Plus it's 2am and my resistance is down.) Open the page in a new window and put it aside as a maybe.
What else do we have?

Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, by Abram N. Shulsky, Gary J. Schmitt. "The author assesses the three means by which raw intelligence data are gathered--from human sources, by technical means and open-source collection--and describes missions, methods of analysis and practical applications of the 'product'."

Mmmnnn, looks a bit dry and academic - not quite my thing. (Although I wonder if MountainPilot would like it?) Although if it was five bucks or less, I'd probably say 'what the heck' and buy it. But it's not, so on to the next temptation.

The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan, by Ben Macintyre.
While many know Sean Connery as "The Man Who Would Be King," few know 19th-century maverick Josiah Harlan, whose adventures probably inspired John Huston's version of Kipling's tale.

Oooo, now we're talking. 19th century? That's a 'yes, please'. What else ya got, baby?

A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier
by Diana Preston, Michael Preston.
Seventeenth-century pirate genius William Dampier sailed around the world three times when crossing the Pacific was a major feat, was the first explorer to visit all five continents, and reached Australia eighty years before Captain Cook.

Griffin might like this. And I think I do, too, so into the basket with you, Captain Dampier. But who's this with you, Cap'n?

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival, by Dean King.
Dean King refreshes the popular nineteenth-century narrative once read and admired by Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, and Abraham Lincoln. A page-turning blend of science, history, and classic adventure.

Oh, yeah, add that to the stack. And then get away from the damn computer before you buy anything else, Matisse!

It's a good thing that a book addiction is usually cheaper than a drug addiction – or at least, having one doesn't impact my ability to generate income. I'd hate to have to go around knocking elderly people in the head to get money for my book fix.

No comments: