Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge” as Want to Read:
Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The defining moments of the Revolutionary War did not occur on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table, claims Thomas Fleming, but at Valley Forge, where the Continental Army wintered in 1777–78. WASHINGTON'S SECRET WAR tells the dramatic story of how those several critical months transformed a beaten, bedraggled group of recruits into a professional army capable of def ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Washington's Secret War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Washington's Secret War

1776 by David McCulloughJohn Adams by David McCulloughAlexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowFounding Brothers by Joseph J. EllisWashington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Best Books About The American Revolution
77th out of 135 books — 120 voters
Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Terror by Dan SimmonsTo Build a Fire and Other Stories by Jack London
Out in the Cold
137th out of 218 books — 83 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,276)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Well I wasn't going to rate this more than 3 but the final 75 pages turned things around for me. Washington's secret political war was in fact quite remarkable. Reminded me a bit of Eisenhower's similar political war with some of his allied compatriots. Only leaders of this caliber could stand a chance of success. Some fascinating things I learned . . .
* Did you know that during the Revolutionary War that Philadelphia was the largest city in America and 3rd largest city in the British Empire.
A very well-executed history of this pivotal time & place in the American Revolution. Fleming succeeds in his avowed aim of showing George Washington the adept political operative, a man at least as skilled in the art of politics as he was in the art of war.

Fleming doesn't bother to hide his contempt for his villains, the "true Whigs" (such as Benjamin Rush, Sam Adams, James Lovell, and their fellows; political theorists today might call their tendency "civic republicanism") and the scheming
WASHINGTON’S SECRET WAR: The Hidden History of Valley Forge. (2005). Thomas Fleming. ****.
This is an alternative history of the period during the Revolution when Washington and his Continental Army was holed up at Valley Forge for the winter of 1777. 1777 was a mixed year for the Continental effort. It started out on January 3 with Washington’s victory at Princeton after his surprise attack and victory at Trenton on December 26 of 1776. These two victories turned the tide for the rebels and sec
I read almost all of this book in one day and I enjoyed reading about the events of Valley Forge that I was not terribly familiar with. The parts on Baron Von Steuben were my favorite. I knew that he was not what he presented himself to be when he arrived here, but I did not realize how impressed everyone, even those outside of Valley Forge, was with the work that Von Steuben did with the Continental Army.

A majority of the book focuses on the political intrigues between Generals (Washington, Ga
Ron Tenney
After reading General Washington: A Military Life, I wanted to read more about the winter of 1777-1778: Valley Forge.
Thomas Fleming does an amazing job of telling the story from the complex angle of the political movements of the “true whigs” in Congress to discredit Washington and replace him with Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, or who ever else the could find to bring down this “demigod” named Washington.
I am a true believer in the premise that there were many key figures in the birth of our Nat
Ruby Danderfluff
After a spring break spent with Washington and his political/military allies and enemies, I've found a new appreciation for just how severely partisan the fledgling American government was from its inception. Fleming takes aim at the "Conway conspiracy," (complete with Saratoga hero Horatio Gates, along with Samuel and John Adams) which sought to remove Washington from power and disband the continental army from within Congress. It took an adept politician, as well as military leader to maneuver ...more
Stanley Cramer
I really liked this because of the amount of interesting information I never knew of nearby Valley Forge. I suppose that,s why it's the hidden history - duh. Washington sure didn't have an easy go of it and it had only a little to do with the weather. A must for Revolutionary War history buffs.
Of the many historians that author books on the American Revolution, Thomas J. Fleming is quickly becoming my favorite. I, of course, appreciate the amount of research he must do in order to ensure he is faithful to the history he is sharing. But it is his ability to write an enjoyable narrative that sets him apart from other historian authors. As for this particular novel...I have read many accounts of the revolution and it seems to me that Valley Forge is often mentioned in passing. It does ap ...more
The author debunks a number of myths about Valley Forge while portraying George Washington as a master politician who out maneuvered his opponents both in the Continental Army and in the Continental Congress. The soldiers at Valley Forge were short of clothing & food and lived in unsanitary conditions both in their camps and in the hospitals. Mismanagement in the quartermaster & commissary departments resulted in the soldiers starving while food & other supplies went to waste due to ...more
James Rada Jr.
Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge is the first book I’ve read by Thomas Fleming. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned a lot from reading it and found it was more than simply a story about survival during the winter of 1776-1777. Behind that story is the story of the political machinations of men.

You had a faction of Congress that believed that a weak federal government was the best course for the states and worked toward this goal behind the scenes. George Washing
This book does a masterful job of explaining two important ideas in the America revolution. First and foremost it deconstructs the myths surrounding Valley Forge and while showing how hard it was at times for the soldiers it also puts their struggle into perspective. The author does an excellent job of looking at how Lafayette and Baron von Stueben figure into the revolution. The most impressive part however is the way in which the author looks at George Washington's political side. He analyzes ...more
Lately I've been on a Revolutionary War kick. My brother got me this book for my birthday, so I read it.


Despite the subtitle, nothing I read about Valley Forge in this book was hidden to me. I already knew that the weather wasn't that cold, or that the soldiers were starving because of poor administration, not a lack of food (Valley Forge is actually rich farmland with high yields). Moreover, I already knew about the Conway Cabal and Washington's efforts to fend off usurpers like Horatio
An informative and engaging look at the Continental Army's time in Valley Forge. It also devotes some attention on the political situation at the time, which mainly consisted of Washington fending off threats to his authority and command from various politicians and other generals. That's the main focus of the book, but not the most interesting. The author also explodes some myths about Valley Forge (cold wasn't the main problem, it was lack of food, and only in the first couple months). Fleming ...more
Ken Lang

As an avid reader of American history, I truly loved this find. After visiting the Valley Forge National Park, I stumbled onto this book in the bookstore when searching for a good read about the history behind Valley Forge. Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge was an extraordinary historical recollection as Thomas Fleming reveals the 'politics' of the day. Through letters and personal journals, Fleming shares Washington’s struggled to prepare the Continental Army to fig
Most people have this idyllic view of America's founding as one in which all Americans were united behind George Washington. This turns out to be not true, as egos and personal ambition drove a few to try and discredit him to make themselves look better. I learned a lot about that political aspect of the time, as well as details about the Winter of 1777-1778 spent in Valley Forge. The British were holed up in nearby Philadelphia with a stronger force, and the American Continental Army was quite ...more
May 09, 2013 Ryan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: military history fans, war buffs, colonial history fans
Shelves: favorites
Thomas Fleming rolls up his sleeves and delves into the Valley Forge saga of the Revolutionary War with his usual stylistic fervor and shrewd ability to ensnare the reader into his specific, carved-out, well-researched slice of history. A compelling case is made to dispel the common myths of Valley Forge while simultaneously bolstering and stressing the magnitude of the interplay of the soldiers, the commander-in-chief, and the political intrigue of many prominent characters.

There is enough dram

As histories go this is a short book. While much of the saga of Valley Forge is well-known this book explores the multiple fronts GW fought: the British army as well as the Continental Congress and power-seeking generals.

The American Revolution was almost lost due to greed, sectionalism infighting, and a Whig aversion of a standing army.While there may be some merit to this in times of peace it is folly during times if war. This folly was directly responsible for under-fed, unclothed, shoeless,
Fleming expertly blends narrative and quotes from source documents. What's more he is up front but not over-wrought about where he differs with other historians.

Of course, it helps that the source material is fantastic -- turns out that the Gen. Washington of reality is more interesting, intelligent and even admirable and awesome than the one of myth. The book outlines how Washington outmaneuvered the American politicians and soldiers that were trying to get rid of him (and by extension the Con
Nov 11, 2008 Big rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone with the slightest interest in American history
I found this book to be quite intriguing. While it did mostly rehash everything that is known about Valley Forge from the soldiers point of view, what interested me most was discovering how well George Washington could do the political dance. The impression I always had of Washington was of this quiet, but imposing, figure during the birth of our nation. This book showed that he was very adept at navigating the pitfalls of political conflict. It also showed how well he could deal with each indiv ...more
Robert Hazzard
Great recounting of the winter at Valley Forge and the politics going on at the time. Only serves to reinforce how fortunate the nation was at this juncture in time and how things could have gone incredibly bad.
Vincent Darlage
Wow. I've been coming to respect George Washington more and more, and this book just elevated him in my esteem even higher. I am stunned to discover that Congress was as divisive and idiotic as it is today, with ruinous zealots on both sides. Washington gave us our liberty from England; if any of these other idiots had had their way, we'd be speaking English today! Wait... We'd be paying our respects to the Queen! There we go. Anyway, George Washington was an amazing leader.
This book focuses on the politics of the revolutionary war, and does a good job with that. It doesn't go into details of the battles, so if you are interested in more action I wouldn't recommend this book to you. One downfall is the book reads like a text book at times, so it can drag on a little. Overall though it was a good read.
Jeff Raymond
Fleming is fast becoming one of my favorite modern historians. This guy can take such a small part of a significant historical event, make it into something absolutely wonderful, and hook you in until it's done, and that's something special. A great read about the politics of Washington's issues at Valley Forge.
Great read showing the "Founding Fathers" were not all aligned in their ideals,efforts or politics of the day, and some were often miseralbly unvalorous and unvirtruous. Our heros of the American Revolution were fighting the same battles "inside the beltway" as political figures of today.
Steve Wygant
Intriguing account of the political infighting amongst members of the Continental Congress and attempts to remove Washington as leader of the Continental army. Balanced, well-written and carefully researched.
As if trying to save the nation wasn't enough of a burden, here's the story of the whole political game Washington had to play at the same time. What an amazing man, I hope to model his patience and endurance.
Thoroughly enjoyable. I feel 100% more prepared for a visit to the Valley Forge National Park in a few weeks.
Not sure if I finished this one -- could not stay interested.
Clay Davis
With all the infighting in the American army it is a wonder we won.
Spike Spikey
A history book that you can't put down? Impossible!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 42 43 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army
  • The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton
  • Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence
  • Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War
  • Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution
  • Paul Revere's Ride
  • For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions
  • 1775: A Good Year for Revolution
  • John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy
  • George Washington's War: The Forging of a Revolutionary Leader and the American Presidency
  • Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency
  • Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution
  • Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different
  • John Adams: Party of One
  • The Sage of Monticello
  • An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America
  • A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution
  • General George Washington: A Military Life
Thomas J. Fleming is an historian and historical novelist, with a special interest in the American Revolution. He was born in 1927 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of a World War I hero who was a leader in Jersey City politics for three decades. Before her marriage, his mother, Katherine Dolan Fleming, was a teacher in the Jersey City Public School System.

After graduating from St. Peter's Prepa
More about Thomas J. Fleming...
Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers Liberty! The American Revolution The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War

Share This Book