• On Secret Service

  • By: John Jakes
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 16 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (146 ratings)

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On Secret Service  By  cover art

On Secret Service

By: John Jakes
Narrated by: Michael Kramer
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Publisher's summary

On Secret Service is the story of a war within a war on various levels: the North versus the South, the Union's Pinkerton Detective Agency versus the Confederacy's agent provocateurs, and youthful idealism versus youthful lust. It chronicles the lives and times of four young Americans, from the war's early tremors in January 1861 through its bloody conclusion: Lincoln's assassination and John Wilkes Booth's murder in May 1865.
©2000 John Jakes (P)2000 Books on Tape

Critic reviews

On Secret Service draws you back into the Civil War and the wrenching days preceding Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The factual details are simply astonishing: You walk the muddy streets, smell the acrid smoke of battlefields, and experience firsthand the inner workings of a vast conspiracy.” (Patricia Cornwell) 

“The author saves the best for last in dealing with Lincoln’s assassination, bringing the drama to life by giving each of his protagonists a crucial role as the conspiracy unfolds with expert pacing and suspense. Jakes uncovers the little-known history of espionage and counterespionage during the War Between the States with his signature combination of meticulous research and epic narrative.” (Publishers Weekly)  

“Gripping, exciting, and historically accurate…a very good book.” (Library Journal)  

What listeners say about On Secret Service

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    75
  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    8
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Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    53
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    1
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    7
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    57
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    9
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Deal!!

This is a great price for a very good historically based novel. Mr. Kramer does an outstanding job with the diverse accents that he must portray. This is first and formost a novel. However, when factual characters are portrayed the author has done his homework. As far as the novel on it's merits alone I would have given it a 4, but the price pushes it up to a 5+. I felt the author could have given us better background and character developement on the primary players in the story.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Listening...

The role of Pinkertons and spying - sounds like a dry subject - but not when dealt with by John Jakes. This is an exciting book, and once you start to listen, you will have a hard time hitting the "stop" button.

This is an excellent audio book and I highly recommend it.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Lacking

Although somewhat enjoyable, I had to keep checking to see that this book was not abridged. It left out so much in the way of setting, character development, and emotion that it read like an abridged novel. The characters are more like characatures of people of the times, with little depth. The reader was also lacking in depth. Some of his character adaptations were quite good. But most of his sentences ended on an upward note, lacking proper intonation. I don't think I'll be ordering any more books by this reader or author.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good

I am a huge fan of historical fiction books in general, so I had high hopes for this book. It was ok, but I did not care for the harder edge of this book. If this were a movie it would be PG-13 or R. Some of the stuff was really un called for and added little to nothing to the plot depth. I liked learning about all the back story behind the history and if I had this purchase to make over again, I would probably still get it, but just be quicker on the FF button.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Another fine piece of historical fiction

What made the experience of listening to On Secret Service the most enjoyable?

The narration. Mr. Kramer, I believe the name is, is great with accents, Southern ones especially.

What was one of the most memorable moments of On Secret Service?

Lon being caught in the draft riots.

Which character – as performed by Michael Kramer – was your favorite?

Everyone, Lon in particular.

If you could take any character from On Secret Service out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Margaret, to get her views on various issues.

Any additional comments?

A must-have for civil war fans, and fans of historical fiction.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very good read

What did you love best about On Secret Service?

I enjoyed all the twists to the story but still keeping real life history intertwined.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not sure which agent I enjoyed best. My least is Pinkerton though.

Have you listened to any of Michael Kramer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I enjoy the readers voice, nice and smooth, enjoyable to listen to for long periods.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Possibly

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

enjoyed it

I enjoyed this book but did not find it as engaging as other Jakes' books. I thought the romance angles a bit trite. I've read a lot of Civil War non-fiction in which it is always mentioned that McClellan relied on Pinkerton's erroneous intelligence on enemy troop size. Interesting to find this angle brought up by the Pinkerton character.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Reading was monotonous

The voice was very dull, it was hard to follow the boring description, only the story and respect for John Jakes got me hearing

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Find a copy with a different reader

Performance ruined my enjoyment of this book. However the story is worth reading. Just find a copy that uses a different performer or read it yourself!

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