DescriptionCharles A. Siringo. Two Evil Isms: Pinkertonism and Anarchism, by a Cowboy Detective Who Knows, As He Spent Twenty-Two Years in the Inner Circle of Pinkerton's National Detective Agency. Chicago: Charles A. Siringo, Publisher, 1915. First edition. 109pp. Two pages of photographs, including frontispiece. Original illustrated color wrappers (never issued in hardcover). Wrappers very slightly rubbed. Binding is side-stapled beneath the slick wrappers, and staples have begun to peek through. Housed in a custom gilt-stamped quarter leather clamshell box. A beautiful copy in fine condition.
Siringo's notorious third book (which he published himself, as no publisher was willing to risk tackling the inflammatory content) followed close on the heels of the legal debacle surrounding A Cowboy Detective. This slim volume, in which Siringo attacks the Pinkerton agency, has been described as a "scathing exposé" and an "angry diatribe" filled with bitter resentment and withering accusations. The blurb on the back cover tells it all: "Pinkertonism: Brought Out of Darkness into the Bright Sunlight of Publicity."
Siringo wrote that he had originally wanted to work for the Pinkertons in order to "see the world and learn human nature," but after twenty-two years with the agency (and after enduring the turmoil of the suit they brought against him), his initial high opinion of "the model institution" had changed, and in this book he writes: "little did I dream that I was entering a school for the making of anarchists, and a disgrace to an enlightened age." In Two Evil Isms he writes about the dark underbelly of the world's most famous detective agency, detailing the unethical and illegal methods he says were employed, such as "blackmail, bribery, and intimidation," fixing elections, kidnapping witnesses, paying off police officers, even hiring killers for their clients. Unsurprisingly, the Pinkertons were, again, outraged, and they moved swiftly to suppress the book. An injunction was issued and all unsold copies of the book - and the printing plates themselves - were ordered to be turned over to the Pinkerton Agency and were, apparently, destroyed. Not only did the Pinkertons suppress the book, they attempted to extradite Siringo to Chicago from his home in New Mexico to face criminal libel charges, but the governor of New Mexico (a friend of Siringo) refused the request and the matter was dropped. As the furor of the case wound down, Siringo began a two-year stint as a New Mexico Ranger, gathering material to be included in his next book, A Lone Star Cowboy.
Even though almost all copies of Two Evil Isms were destroyed, "a small lot had been shipped out west and escaped, thus making this book exceedingly rare" (Adams). We are proud to offer Ben Pingenot's personal copy of this "exceedingly rare" suppressed Siringo item, seldom encountered, and in exceptionally fine condition. Ex Ben E. Pingenot.
References: Adams One-Fifty 126. Graff 3808. Howes S519. Peavy, Texas Picaro, pp. 15-22. Six-Guns 2033 ("The first edition was out of print by the time it came off the press [...] exceedingly rare").
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