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Inventing the Pinkertons; or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs: Being a Story of the Nation's Most Famous (and Infamous) Detective Agency
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Johns Hopkins University Press 2016
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The fascinating story of the most notorious detective agency in US history.

Between 1865 and 1937, Pinkerton's National Detective Agency was at the center of countless conflicts between capital and labor, bandits and railroads, and strikers and state power. Some believed that the detectives were protecting society from dangerous criminal conspiracies; others thought that armed Pinkertons were capital's tool to crush worker dissent. Yet the image of the Pinkerton detective also inspired romantic and sensationalist novels, reflected shifting ideals of Victorian manhood, and embodied a particular kind of rough frontier justice.

Inventing the Pinkertons examines the evolution of the agency as a pivotal institution in the cultural history of American monopoly capitalism. Historian S. Paul O'Hara intertwines political, social, and cultural history to reveal how Scottish-born founder Allan Pinkerton insinuated his way to power and influence as a purveyor of valuable (and often wildly wrong) intelligence in the Union cause. During Reconstruction, Pinkerton turned his agents into icons of law and order in the Wild West. Finally, he transformed his firm into a for-rent private army in the war of industry against labor. Having begun life as peddlers of information and guardians of mail bags, the Pinkertons became armed mercenaries, protecting scabs and corporate property from angry strikers.

O'Hara argues that American capitalists used the Pinkertons to enforce new structures of economic and political order. Yet the infamy of the Pinkerton agent also gave critics and working communities a villain against which to frame their resistance to the new industrial order. Ultimately, Inventing the Pinkertons is a gripping look at how the histories of American capitalism, industrial folklore, and the nation-state converged.

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Street Date:
10/18/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781421420578
ASIN:
B01K996N8O
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APA Citation (style guide)

S. Paul O'Hara. (2016). Inventing the Pinkertons; or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs: Being a Story of the Nation's Most Famous (and Infamous) Detective Agency. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

S. Paul O'Hara. 2016. Inventing the Pinkertons; Or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs: Being a Story of the Nation's Most Famous (and Infamous) Detective Agency. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

S. Paul O'Hara, Inventing the Pinkertons; Or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs: Being a Story of the Nation's Most Famous (and Infamous) Detective Agency. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

S. Paul O'Hara. Inventing the Pinkertons; Or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs: Being a Story of the Nation's Most Famous (and Infamous) Detective Agency. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Between 1865 and 1937, Pinkerton's National Detective Agency was at the center of countless conflicts between capital and labor, bandits and railroads, and strikers and state power. Some believed that the detectives were protecting society from dangerous criminal conspiracies; others thought that armed Pinkertons were capital's tool to crush worker dissent. Yet the image of the Pinkerton detective also inspired romantic and sensationalist novels, reflected shifting ideals of Victorian manhood, and embodied a particular kind of rough frontier justice.

Inventing the Pinkertons examines the evolution of the agency as a pivotal institution in the cultural history of American monopoly capitalism. Historian S. Paul O'Hara intertwines political, social, and cultural history to reveal how Scottish-born founder Allan Pinkerton insinuated his way to power and influence as a purveyor of valuable (and often wildly wrong) intelligence in the Union cause. During...

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Inventing the Pinkertons; or, Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs
fullDescription

The fascinating story of the most notorious detective agency in US history.

Between 1865 and 1937, Pinkerton's National Detective Agency was at the center of countless conflicts between capital and labor, bandits and railroads, and strikers and state power. Some believed that the detectives were protecting society from dangerous criminal conspiracies; others thought that armed Pinkertons were capital's tool to crush worker dissent. Yet the image of the Pinkerton detective also inspired romantic and sensationalist novels, reflected shifting ideals of Victorian manhood, and embodied a particular kind of rough frontier justice.

Inventing the Pinkertons examines the evolution of the agency as a pivotal institution in the cultural history of American monopoly capitalism. Historian S. Paul O'Hara intertwines political, social, and cultural history to reveal how Scottish-born founder Allan Pinkerton insinuated his way to power and influence as a purveyor of valuable (and often wildly wrong) intelligence in the Union cause. During Reconstruction, Pinkerton turned his agents into icons of law and order in the Wild West. Finally, he transformed his firm into a for-rent private army in the war of industry against labor. Having begun life as peddlers of information and guardians of mail bags, the Pinkertons became armed mercenaries, protecting scabs and corporate property from angry strikers.

O'Hara argues that American capitalists used the Pinkertons to enforce new structures of economic and political order. Yet the infamy of the Pinkerton agent also gave critics and working communities a villain against which to frame their resistance to the new industrial order. Ultimately, Inventing the Pinkertons is a gripping look at how the histories of American capitalism, industrial folklore, and the nation-state converged.

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        For fans of the American West as well as true crime buffs.

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      • content:

        September 1, 2016

        The detectives of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency were famous for their detection skills--and notorious for their reputation as probusiness enforcers. O'Hara (history, Xavier Univ.) tells the story of the Pinkertons from their origin in investigating embezzlement for railroad companies to their work as security for big business. Founder Allan Pinkerton used the media of the time to paint his detectives as symbols of order in the lawless West, but his work for the owners of the mines and mills evolved into providing a de facto private army to quell strikers. As Pinkerton agents were often deputized by local law enforcement, they acted as agents of the government while being employed by private interests, a dangerous combination. After the Homestead Mills disaster, during which Pinkerton agents fired on the striking miners, the company came under greater scrutiny, which led to the Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893, limiting the government's ability to hire private armies. VERDICT A disturbing look at the history of an American institution still relevant today in the age of Blackwater. For fans of the American West as well as true crime buffs.--Deirdre Bray Root, MidPointe Lib. Syst., OH

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Being a Story of the Nation's Most Famous (and Infamous) Detective Agency
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Johns Hopkins University Press
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tableOfContents

Introduction: Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, or heroes and villains of the Gilded Age

Chapter 1: In which Allan Pinkerton creates his agency The making of Allan PinkertonAllan Pinkerton goes to warCrafting the Pinkerton detectiveConclusion: a detective mythology

Chapter 2: In which Pinkerton Men become the anti-heroes of the middle west Mississippi OutlawsThe Outlaw Jesse JamesWild bandits of the borderConclusion: Highwaymen of the Railroad

Chapter 3: In which Pinkerton agents infiltrate secret societies A Noxious Weed of IrelandAmong the Assassins! Strikers, Communists, Tramps, and DetectivesConclusion: Anarchists and the Detectives

Chapter 4: In which the Pinks serve as a private army for capital The "Pinkerton Force" or detectives on trial"Pinkerton is neither more nor less than the head of a band of mercenaries"The Knights of Labor and the Pinkerton roughsConclusion: Anarchists and the detectives

Chapter 5: In which Pinkerton myrmidons invade Homestead The Great Battle of HomesteadMr. Frick's hired invadersThe Pinkerton system is a standing menace to order and good governmentConclusion: Pinkerton raiders, the advance guard to Poles and Hungarians

Chapter 6: In which the disgrace of Pinkertonism is subjected to public scrutiny Protecting property from the" Tyranny of the Homestead Mo"Protecting free labor from "this gang of Hessians"Protecting society from the "Disgrace of Pinkertonism"Conclusion: Lessons on Corporate management from the Mercenaries of the Oligarchy

Chapter 7: In which the frontier closes and Pinkerton practices are exposed A Cowboy Detective and a Labor SpySurrounded with lice, Pinkerton detectives and other verminPinking the PinkertonsConclusion: Anarchists and the Detectives, reconsidered

Chapter 8: In which the modern state takes on the duties of the Pinkerton agency Birdy Edwards and the last myth of the PinkertonsThe modern state and the detectivesStool Pigeons, Company gunmen, and the New DealConclusion: Dashiell Hammett, Pinkerton

Conclusion: Pinkerton's Inc.