Miles's Reviews > Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring

Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose
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Sep 16, 12

Read in September, 2012

I read this 3 to 10 pages at a time, right before bed, for several months. Don't get me wrong. It is an interesting enough tale of Revolutionary War spying, and conveys all sorts of fascinating detail about the politics, religious and cultural dimensions of colonial life, as well as General Washington's challenges in running and maintaining specific famous spies behind British lines, in New York. Some of the tales told here give us a new appreciation for the raw brutality of the guerrilla warfare that was waged outside of the familiar big battles of the Revolution. Yet, it is the kind of interesting that both grabs one for awhile, and then lulls one off to sleep. I suspect that it was a doctoral dissertation originally. It was really a perfect bed-time book. Simultaneously interesting, and even gripping, and yet arousing no desperate curiosity about what would happen next at all, and thus nicely sleep inducing too.

In the end, following the war, the spies were mostly paid off for their services, and went on to live their ordinary lives. The new nation went racing on its way. And the records of the letters and betrayals, secret inks and codes, networks and payments were tucked away in archives, until modern researchers like Alexander Rose came along to tell their story. At the time, it was all desperately important. Today, we can well imagine that very similar dramas are being enacted in new ways all around the world. The game of spying and betrayal is probably eternal, though it finds new expressions in every generation.
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