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Historians and their books


Inventing the Pinkertons – Interview with S. Paul O'Hara Historians and their books

An in-depth interview with S.Paul O’Hara – historian and author of: ‘Inventing the Pinkertons: or Spies, Sleuths, Mercenaries, and Thugs: Being a story of America’s most famous (and infamous) detective agency’ – published in 2016. More information and additional resources regarding this podcast can be found on this website.

Highly recommended: ***** for hard-core history buffs, students of history, and history professionals.

Synopsis: This is a very detailed and fascinating look at S.Paul O’Hara’s life in history, his historical influences, as well as a detailed discussion of his wonderful book which is a fine example of American cultural history. Any study of the US Gilded Age (1870-1900) needs to contend with the role and influence of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency as it chased down bandits in the wild-west on behalf of the big Railroad companies – bandits such as the Reno brothers, the James Gang, and later Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It must also contend with the Agency’s brutal role in infiltrating and crushing organized labor strikes on behalf of the notorious Robber Barons such as Jay Gould and Andrew Carnegie. Famous strikes and incidents such as the Molly Maguires, the Haymarket Affair, and the Homestead Massacre when Andrew Carnegie tried to smash striking workers at his steel plant by using Pinkerton armed guards are discussed in detail. During this phase, the Pinkertons were essentially a private army for US monopoly capitalism. The interview extends through to FDR and the New Deal in the 1930s, the rise of the FBI and the G-Men, and all the way up to the use of Blackwater and a host of other private US security firms who were contracted by the US government during the Iraq war to deliver security services despite the Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1894 which had expressly forbidden the US government from hiring private militia. S.Paul O’Hara is an Associate Professor of History at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and author of this wonderful book. NB: The first 29 minutes of the interview focuses on the historian’s life and background and historical influences while the interview about the book starts at 29 minutes into the podcast.

  • The Politics of History
  • History Wars: Myths & Realities (Consensus or Conflict)
  • Historians: Social & Political Activism
  • Age of Discovery & the New World
  • Colonial America & Invention of the White Race
  • American Indians: Profile: Lakota & Comanche
  • Slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade
  • American & French Revolutions
  • Haitian Revolution
  • American Constitution: A Federalist Coup?
  • Jacksonian America (antebellum America)
  • Mexican American War
  • The Fugitive Slave Act (1850)
  • The Civil War & Reconstruction
  • Jim Crow to Civil Rights
  • The Gilded Age
  • The Populist and Progressive era in US history
  • The Harlem Renaissance
  • The Role of the Supreme Court in US history
  • FDR & The New Deal


  • Native Americans:Tecumseh: Shawnee Warrior
  • Native Americans: Lakota & Comanche
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Thaddeus Stevens
  • William Lloyd Garrison
  • Wendell Phillips
  • David Walker
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Shadrake Minkins & Nat Turner
  • Allan Pinkerton
  • Horace Greeley
  • Thomas Nast
  • Albion W. Tourgee
  • Hubert Harrison
  • Marcus Garvey
  • William Monroe Trotter
  • Eugene V. Debs
  • Philip A. Randolph
  • James Baldwin
  • Martin Luther King
  • Malcolm X
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