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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,806 ratings  ·  476 reviews
Now a TV series on AMC
Basing his tale on remarkable original research, historian Alexander Rose reveals the unforgettable story of the spy ring that helped America win the Revolutionary War. For the first time, Rose takes us beyond the battlefront and into the shadowy underworld of double agents and triple crosses, covert operations and code breaking, and unmasks the co
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Bantam (first published May 2006)
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Nikolas Larum Perhaps by now you have already read the book. If not, you will discover that Turn, though highly entertaining, is a fictional dramatization of the…morePerhaps by now you have already read the book. If not, you will discover that Turn, though highly entertaining, is a fictional dramatization of the actual characters Mr. Rose wrote about in Washington's Spies. In a paraphrase of his words, he had encountered parts of the story in various places but no one work that focused on Washington's role as spymaster. This, and fascination with the subject, decided him on writing the book.

The book is well worth reading, particularly for Turn fans. It provides a view of Washington seldom discussed and his role in developing what became standard intelligence practices in the modern era. It also gives a good sense of the psychological toll of being an information asset in occupied territory.(less)
Carr Davis Keep reading! The first chapter is a bit of background that would be understood later in the TV series. One option that is very fun is using Audible…moreKeep reading! The first chapter is a bit of background that would be understood later in the TV series. One option that is very fun is using Audible while reading along or doing other activities. (less)

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3.79  · 
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 ·  3,806 ratings  ·  476 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
"I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
Nathan Hale

 photo NathanHale_zps4bd12b9c.jpg
Statue of Nathan Hale at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

Courage in the face of imminent demise. There is some speculation as to whether Hale actually said these words or some version of them. At this point it doesn’t really matter, they have become a part of the lexicon of our history. One thing that is not speculated about is that this young man of 21 went to his death displaying fearless gallantry. When the British ha
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
“…good and faithful men languished unheeded, untrumpeted, and unknown.”

I love history, so when I discovered the book “Washington’s Spies-The Story of America’s First Spy Ring” thru the AMC series “Turn” (the series was inspired by this nonfiction text) I was excited.
Although this is a good book, it is not a great one. There are quite a few reasons why I think thus. First, the writing can be dry at times. A section in the text on ciphers/ciphering letters is dull, and excessively detailed for my
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, own, true-story
I picked this up because I am in love with Turn: Washington's Spies, the AMC show that you may have guessed is based on this book, and for which author Alexander Rose is also a credited writer.

Given the scant amount of information available about the Culper Ring, I knew the show had to be heavily fictionalized. I did not set out to read Washington's Spies expecting to learn about personal relationships between characters such as you might see in a multi-season TV show. What I did hope for was a
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of my favorite books I've ever read. It's engrossing, exceptionally well researched, - as well as written - and plunges you so deep into the world of those who worked in the Culper Ring that it feels very personal. Mind you, this is all coming from one who had little to no interest in the Revolutionary War before I came upon the book hiding on the lower shelf at the airport [every other book whose summary I read was a promise of disappointing dreck]. Though I will admit I am a total h ...more
I was inspired to read this after enjoying the TV show Turn, and I think I would've found the book frustratingly discursive and disorganized if I hadn't seen the show and been able to use the "main characters" as a sort of anchor. I loved hearing the real life stories behind the characters - and small wonder it got turned into a show, because it's pretty screen-worthy stuff. I also, of course, appreciated all the Yale references - Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathan Hale met there as students - and it ...more
The key thing I discovered reading this book was that General George Washington was a natural spy master. This book is about the Culper Spy Ring. The spy ring operated during the American War of Independence and provided Washington with information on British Troop movements.

In 1778, General George Washington appointed Major Benjamin Tallmadge as director of Military Intelligence, charged with creating a spy ring in New York City. The ring operated for five years and no member was ever unmasked.
Christina DeVane
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book especially after watching the tv show(on VidAngel)😇 based on this book. It was easier to keep up with all the characters because I had a face to put with the names. It was neat reading all the storylines that were in the show finding out the people and plots that actually happened! Highly recommend for any history lover!
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books-i-own
"Like the rest of the Ring, Tallmadge cast off the cloak of the secret world for the raiment of a brave new one, but just once, he felt compelled to break his self imposed silence in order to honor the memory of the sacrifices made by his friends. In 1817....Tallmadge was one of the few surviving members (in congress) who had fought in the war....Like Tallmadge, Major John Andre (British officer) had worked out of nothing but a sense of duty to his country...and so too, had the Culper Ring, whos ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I do not know why it took me so long to read this book — I’ve had it for at least two years, and I’ve watched (and loved) all four seasons of the show that is based upon this book (“Turn: Washington’s Spies”).
This was a quick 280 page read for me, and it really helped to deepen my understanding of the Culper Spy Ring. I definitely recommend it as a read for anyone interested in US history, espionage, or any other related topics; in actuality, I just highly recommend this book as a read for every
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama, history
“The event we leave to heaven.”

A competent history of espionage during the American Revolutionary War. Not to be confused with the romanticized fiction of the television series TURN, purportedly based on it. (See below) Well research and well-written. Explores the motives, means and outcomes for the spies and spy masters on both sides. In 1776, following a series of victories in August and September, the British commanded New York City and Long Island and were chasing the defeated colonial army
Eh. I had heard such great things about this book and decided to pick up the paperback after seeing it was in paperback and was now serving as the basis for a cable series. I just couldn't get into it.

The book follows the tales and adventures and missions of the spy ring that worked for George Washington during the Revolution. It follow various historical figures from their methods to their travels to some of their ends, sadly or not. However it is not a history on the American Revolution. Battl
Alexander Rose delivers a well researched and well thought out book on the history of American (and some of the British) spy rings that influenced the battle plans of the American revolutions. From the famous story of Nathan Hale to the operations around New York the first real intelligence organ of the United States is revealed. The book is not only an overview of the lives of the spies who fed intelligence to the Continental Army but goes into the methods in which they used. There is an entire ...more
Dry, dreary, and tedious.

Just a report of facts, names, and dates, all jumbled together. Not enough of a narrative to be entertaining for me. I rushed through the entire thing just to be done with it. Skip the book and just go watch the show instead.
Stephanie G
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
absolutely a fantastic read! I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys Revolutionary history.
A. Sowards
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Prior to reading this, most of my knowledge about spies during the American Revolution was that Nathan Hale was caught and hanged. It turned out that even my knowledge of that was shady. His famous final words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” weren’t what he actually said. A British officer present at the hanging recorded this about Hale’s final moments: “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good officer, to obey ...more
Joe Santoro
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: real_history
I picked this up to 'fact check' the TV show (which is excellent, though heavily dramatized). It did serve that purpose.. it confirmed most of what I expected was created for the show, and a couple things that were surprising. As a book, I found it didn't really hold together as a narrative.. it was more of a string of facts... which was fine for my purpose, but doesn't really make for a compelling read.

That said, it seems to be really well researched, and it did provide the infomation I was loo
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I usually find it difficult to get into non-fiction books. However, after watching (and loving) AMC's Turn I bought the book. I absolutely loved it. Rose has written the story of the Culper Spy Ring in great detail without dragging on. I found myself carrying a pen with me to underline things I found interesting. Definitely a must read!
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
All I really knew about New York during the Revolutionary War was that it was occupied by the British. This book showed me there was certainly a lot more going on! I enjoyed learning about the undercover spies- the tactics they used, their motivations, and how they helped Washington.
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, scoundrels
This is a bit of a fun conundrum - it's the story of the American spy ring put into place by George Washington written by an Englishman who (from what I can tell) lives in America. As such, it's one of my favorite ways to read history; that is, it's history told (sort of) from the losing side. I'm always more interested in how the losers tell the story of big historical events and, as an American, there isn't a much bigger event in my cultural mainstay than the American Revolution. Add to the in ...more
I feel a little bad giving it 2 stars, because this book isn't that bad, but it also wasn't quite good enough to be 3.

Biggest problems with this book:

1) Lack of narrative focus
2) Way too much time spent on unimportant details (way too many numbers and figures on things I cared nothing about)
3) Too little focus on the people involved, what they were like, and their motivations

Certainly, the author put a lot of research in, but it felt like a high school history report (look at all these facts an
I was excited about reading this book, especially since there is a TV show "loosely" based on it. I am going to watch the show (TURN) now that I have read the book. I am hoping that it is better than the book. This is the first book I have ever read by Mr. Rose, and I can say that I probably won't be reading any more of his books. I found it very dry and heavy-handed. Also, in many instances Rose didn't put a year with his date if it was mentioned a few pages ago.... well, I'm sorry, I'm not goi ...more
Robert Greenberger
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Alexander Rose shines an overdue spotlight on the burgeoning world of American espionage. He brings us little known but vital characters in our history, explaining how General Washington built and benefited from the spy ring. Rose's prose is a little dry now and then but the stories are compelling and the background provided puts things nicely into perspective. I am also biased in favor of this book since so many of the locales on Long Island and Connecticut are where I spent my childhood and ad ...more
The AMC series TURN: WASHINGTON’S SPIES was one of my favorite TV shows. After watching the TV series, I purchased and read Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose on which the TV series was based. I wish I had read the book shortly before or during the time that I watched the TV series.

The book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring is more of a history textbook read so there isn’t the dramatic embellishment of facts like in the TV series.
Jenny Stevens
I think I would have been able to give this a higher rating had I read the print book rather than listening to the audiobook. The narrator's voice gets a bit monotone at times and there are large sections which I believe would just be easier the follow if reading in print.

However, that being said, this is a fascinating story of the first "American" spy ring led by General Washington, among others. I downloaded this as part of a special sale Audible was having many, many months ago and finally go
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it

As much a history of espionage as it is the story of specific spies like Nathan Hale, this book covers how Washington used different techniques, learned how quickly some codes could be broken and then moved on to more effective techniques.

Rose informs us about how the blackmarket trade between occupied New York and Connecticut assisted in the movement of spies and information, along with this tip--if you come from a well known Connecticut family, have identifying scar and birthmark on y
Ben Zajdel
Centered around a group of friends who become spies for George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Washington's Spies gives an in-depth history of espionage in the early days of the United States. Alexander Rose does a tremendous job of painting a portrait of America at the time of the Revolution, building the world in which the spies he writes about inhabit. The result is a book which educates you on not only military and espionage history, but the culture of the colonies which rebelled ag ...more
Bob Schnell
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I was a fan of the AMC show "Turn" that was based on the book "Washington's Spies" by Alexander Rose so when I saw it on the library shelf I grabbed it. The TV show, it seems, added some characters and situations not present in the book. However, the book is just as interesting without the romantic intrigue and other dramatic garnishes.

It is the tale of spies during the Revolutionary War, a new concept used by both sides. The focus is on the rebel spies from Long Island known as the Culper Ring.
Elsa K
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I heard about this book after watching the show "Turn Washington's Spies" (I will make the disclaimer we almost stopped watching the show with the inappropriate scenes we had to skip, but it seemed to lessen as the seasons went on). This is the nonfiction book the series is loosely based on.

I found it so interesting that George Washington had this secret unknown spy ring he depended on. After watching the show I wanted to know what was real and what was dramatized for television. I found the ch
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn’t know very much about the American Revolution before reading this book, but, thanks to the author’s great pains to provide detail and back story, I feel much more informed. I never realized just how complicated this conflict really was. It was neat to read of the sacrifice and honor of those who sought to do what they believed was right, especially in the face of many others who abused the war time climate for their own personal gain. War is always a place to see the best and worst of hu ...more
Chad Geese
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have to be honest I watched the first 3 seasons of turn on Netflix and decided to read the book because the 4the season wasn't provided yet. You hear how the book is better than the movie all the time which I agree but the tv series provided a face I could take with me while reading the book which helped out a lot considering the amount of characters. If you're into this time period/history you will absolutely love this book. An easy read with short chapters of 30 pages on average I would gues ...more
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A little about myself. I was born in the United States, grew up in Australia, and educated (to the best of my abilities) in Britain. After that, I moved to Canada, became what was known in the pre-Internet era as a “newspaperman,” and eventually transferred to Washington, D.C. Now based in New York, I am what is currently known as an “historian.”

My writing has appeared in, among other places, the
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