Tuesday, October 21, 2014

George Washington's Secret Six, Brian Kilmeade & Don Yaeger

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution

Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger

Category: Nonfiction: U.S. History (Revolutionary War)

Synopsis: Kilmeade and Yaeger introduce us to the Culper Spy Ring, developed by General George Washington to gain strategic information to win the Revolutionary War.

Date finished: 1 September 2014   

Rating: ****

If nothing else, this book showed me how very much I’ve forgotten about the Revolutionary War and the birth of the nation. Here is a partial list of people and events discussed that I remember very little about: Benedict Arnold, Battle of Bunker Hill, Siege of Boston, Continental Congress, Second Continental Congress, Declaration of Independence, the Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, “the shot heard ’round the world,” Intolerable Acts, Patriots and Loyalists, Treaty of Paris. Some of these, of course, I remember better than others, but for the most part it was like going back to fifth grade and learning it all over again. So, if nothing else, this book is a great primer for all (forgotten) things Revolutionary War.

But did you know about the spy ring? I guess I must have known spies were used, but I certainly don’t remember hearing about the Culper Spy Ring. Or its secret code for communication to General Washington. Or its foiling of Benedict Arnold’s plot to surrender West Point to the British. I sometimes wish I’d have paid more attention in Social Studies back in the day, but boy is it fun rediscovering this history as an adult.

British Intelligence Office, Major George Beckwith, said that “Washington did not really outfight the British, he simply outspied us!” This seems to be the case, from the evidence presented in the book. The British army was larger, and Washington had to spread his meager, tired troops out on several fronts, anticipating their next moves. Those moves were easier to anticipate, of course, with the intelligence gained by his spy ring.

I highly recommend this short book to anyone who wants a refresher on the Revolutionary War, wants to know more about Washington as a man and a general, is interested in was spies, wants a tale full of intrigue and peril, or just wants a jolt of patriotism for a country that might never have been.

Would you recommend this to a friend?

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