Thursday, May 08, 2014

Review: George Washington's Secret Six


George Washington’s Secret Six
By Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
Sentinel HC, November 2013

About the Book

When General George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring.

Washington realized that he couldn’t beat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York. So carefully guarded were the members’ identities that one spy’s name was not uncovered until the twentieth century, and one remains unknown today. But by now historians have discovered enough information about the ring’s activities to piece together evidence that these six individuals turned the tide of the war.

My Review

So the saying goes: “A spy’s name is always lost to history if indeed that spy was truly successful”. And that saying is certainly apt when describing the Culper Ring, a group of six individuals who played compelling roles in turning the tide of the Revolutionary War on American’s behalf. This book tells the tale of those unsung heroes, many of whom had names unknown even to Washington himself, thereby emphasizing the strict secrecy and imminent danger under which they worked. Five men and one lady (the lady’s identity and fate remain a riddle to this day) worked together across various levels of society to take down the likes of Benedict Arnold and John Andre, helping to ensure America’s victory and the eventual departure of the British army from the country.

If you want a look into a “backstory” of the AMCTV show Turn or to hear more about true-life American heroes who have remained unrecognized for hundreds of years, then this is a place to start. The TV show is, as usual, much different than the book, but the book gives you a more in-depth look at the lives and courageous actions of these individuals and the parts they played. The book contains fascinating details, many never before revealed, about the ring, the work they accomplished, and the dangers they faced. In fact, it leaves the reader hungry for even more.

The writing is admittedly uneven and even amateurish in parts, but those who knock the work because of the political views and associations of its author(s) do the book an enormous disservice. So I hope that people will ignore the “trolls” on Amazon and Goodreads and approach this book and its story on its own merits. This is an eye-opening, true-life adventure story that highlights the importance and patriotism of some of America’s earliest, unacknowledged heroes. It would be a shame to miss it.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

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