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

Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge (The Thomas Fleming Library)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,617 ratings  ·  54 reviews
"A superb retelling of the story of Valley Forge and its aftermath, demonstrating that reality is far more compelling than myth." - Gordon S. Wood

The defining moments of the American Revolution did not occur on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table, writes New York Times bestselling author Thomas Fleming, but at Valley Forge. Fleming transports us to December 1777.
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published December 30th 2015 by New Word City, Inc. (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

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,617 ratings  ·  54 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge (The Thomas Fleming Library)
Aug 22, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
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
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,
Stanley Cramer
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written and interesting account of George Washington while he led his new army to Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. While this is not a difficult read, if one is not familiar with some of the key individuals (e.g., Mifflin, Gates, Wayne, etc.) that influenced the Revolutionary War, the beginning of the book can be somewhat confusing until the reader becomes acquainted with all of the military officers, politicians, and people in power during this time in American history. Written ...more
Renn Daniels
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Valley Forge is a very special place for those that have been there. As you walk among the ruins or remnants of an army that lived, breathed and died here, picture a brutal winter, no food--men eating their leather goods, bark huts or dugouts, disease and death. You wonder how a General of any kind kept his soldiers together. Washington said loses were as high as 3000, however, it's now estimated that he lost more than half his army oh, BTW, their enlistments were up so they could just go home. ...more
Ross Siegel
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting corner of American history

I can’t say I found this book to be required reading on the birth of our nation but I did find it an enjoyable look at the making of General Washington into the father of the United States. I also appreciated the sentiment— sometimes genius takes a while to be recognized.

I didn’t love the author’s occasionally overtly sexist remarks about female participation in the war for independence. Oddly I think he probably thought he was being laudatory rather than
Madhav Nallani
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely brilliant read about why George Washington was a capable politician, contrary to what some people may think. This book does an excellent job of detailing the relationship between Washington and the other generals or Congress to highlight how Washington maneuvered against his own countrymen while also fighting a war against the British. I did find this book a little rambling and scattered, but overall enjoyed it tremendously.
Craig Pearson
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book was hard to put down. Many history authors are very knowledgeable on their subject but have difficulty putting readable thoughts into a good story. I won't repeat what other reviewers have said about the book, they are all accurate. What Fleming has done is to provide a narrative of a narrow part of the Revolution and intertwine it into the wider context of the era. Any book that can entertainingly add to a better understanding of Washington the man and soldier is worth reading.
This book was all over the place. I did learn some new things despite having previously read a bit about Valley Forge. I appreciated the in-depth examination of the events going on behind-the-scenes during the winter of 1777-78. But how accurate this book is remains to be seen; there are no references in this edition to support anything the author claims. The writing is so biased I can’t make a determination about what is real and what is exaggerated.
Rebecca Key
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. So many military histories are extremely dry because they focus on data and strategies. This book gave an unusual look at the politics behind the scenes. It was surprising to those politicians of 250 years ago behaving so much like the politicians of today (and not in a flattering way).
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! Fleming combines the rigorous research and scholarship of a historian with the readability of a great novelist. This is a very interesting story of the intrigue surrounding Washington, both in Congress and the army, during the long winter at Valley Forge.
Lori Szajdek
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read

I have lived in Philadelphia my entire life and have visited Valley forge a few times however I feel the need to revisit after reading this book. We owe so many thanks to the men who served there.
Joe Spoto
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book goes into great detail about the politics during the revolutionary war and the behind the scenes conniving of Gates and Lee to try and replace Washington. I was somewhat familiar with it from reading other books but not at this level of detail.
Andrew Scholes
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Good detail on Valley Forge

He would have had a good book if he had kept it just to Valley Forge. He got too wide ranging to keep my attention throughout the entire book.
Cheryl Ruhl
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This important work reveals the full scope of the obstacles facing Washington and the war for American independence at Valley Forge. Very readable and enlightening.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating - Insightful - Well researched Details I'd never heard before
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heavy on names, dates, and places, but an interesting read.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great read

Thank you

5star rating. I lived near valley forge and visited there many times. They don't tell you what is written in this book

Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! Highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about George Washington.
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Washington’s Secret War: the Hidden History of Valley Forge

The hardships and suffering of George Washington’s forces at Valley Forge during the winter months of 1777-8 have been related by numerous historians and are well known, even to those with a mere smattering of knowledge of American history. However, the political intrigues and behind-the-scenes efforts by various factions during the American Revolution to undermine George Washington’s leadership are not so well known – until now.
Ken Lang
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, own
I really wanted to like this book. Thomas Fleming has written a lot of books, some very good -- but this was just plain tiresome. Valley Forge sort of lent itself to be filed on the boring side of things: It's the original America tale of "hurry up and wait."

It's the tale of George Washington and his not-just-sunshine patriots wintering at Valley Forge while the Brits literally crapped all over the capital of Philadelphia.

Granted, GW had to overcome LOTS of doubters and haters and back-stabbers
Glenn Robinson
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is office politics and then there is office politics. General Washington during his time faced office politics that could have destroyed the success of the American Revolution. During the Winter and Spring of 1776, 1777, with the British troops warmly ensconced in Philadelphia, Washington's army shoeless and starving in Valley Forge and Congress in tiny York, Pennsylvania, Washington was the target from multiple groups wanting him out. General Gates, General Charles Lee and others all had ...more
James Rada Jr.
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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 ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
  • Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam: The Battle that Changed the Course of the Civil War
  • 1776
  • Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence
  • Washington's Crossing
  • Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different
  • The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution
  • Victory at Yorktown: The Campaign That Won the Revolution
  • The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army
  • Chancellorsville
  • Don't Know Much about History: Everything You Need to Know about American History But Never Learned
  • Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-69
  • A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic
  • His Excellency: George Washington
  • Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War
  • Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization
  • The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
  • April 1865: The Month That Saved America
See similar books…
Librarian note:
There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name

Thomas James Fleming was 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