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

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Turn: Washington’s Spies, now an original series on AMC

Based on remarkable new research, acclaimed historian Alexander Rose brings to life the true story of the spy ring that helped America win the Revolutionary War. For the first time, Rose takes us beyond the battlefront and deep into the shadowy underworld of double agents and triple crosses, covert operations and code breaking, and unmasks the courageous, flawed men who inhabited this wilderness of mirrors—including the spymaster at the heart of it all.

In the summer of 1778, with the war poised to turn in his favor, General George Washington desperately needed to know where the British would strike next. To that end, he unleashed his secret weapon: an unlikely ring of spies in New York charged with discovering the enemy’s battle plans and military strategy.

Washington’s small band included a young Quaker torn between political principle and family loyalty, a swashbuckling sailor addicted to the perils of espionage, a hard-drinking barkeep, a Yale-educated cavalryman and friend of the doomed Nathan Hale, and a peaceful, sickly farmer who begged Washington to let him retire but who always came through in the end. Personally guiding these imperfect everyday heroes was Washington himself. In an era when officers were gentlemen, and gentlemen didn’ t spy, he possessed an extraordinary talent for deception—and proved an adept spymaster.

The men he mentored were dubbed the Culper Ring. The British secret service tried to hunt them down, but they escaped by the closest of shaves thanks to their ciphers, dead drops, and invisible ink. Rose’s thrilling narrative tells the unknown story of the Revolution–the murderous intelligence war, gunrunning and kidnapping, defectors and executioners—that has never appeared in the history books. But Washington’s Spies is also a spirited, touching account of friendship and trust, fear and betrayal, amid the dark and silent world of the spy.


From the Hardcover edition.
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More by Alexander Rose

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George Washington insisted that his portrait be painted with one. Daniel Boone created a legend with one. Abraham Lincoln shot them on the White House lawn. And Teddy Roosevelt had his specially customized.

Now, in this first-of-its-kind book, historian Alexander Rose delivers a colorful, engrossing biography of an American icon: the rifle. Drawing on the words of soldiers, inventors, and presidents, based on extensive new research, and encompassing the Revolution to the present day, American Rifle is a balanced, wonderfully entertaining history of this most essential firearm and its place in American culture.

In the eighteenth century American soldiers discovered that they no longer had to fight in Europe’s time-honored way. With the evolution of the famed “Kentucky” Rifle—a weapon slow to load but devastatingly accurate in the hands of a master—a new era of warfare dawned, heralding the birth of the American individualist in battle.

In this spirited narrative, Alexander Rose reveals the hidden connections between the rifle’s development and our nation’s history. We witness the high-stakes international competition to produce the most potent gunpowder . . . how the mysterious arts of metallurgy, gunsmithing, and mass production played vital roles in the creation of American economic supremacy . . . and the ways in which bitter infighting between rival arms makers shaped diplomacy and influenced the most momentous decisions in American history. And we learn why advances in rifle technology and ammunition triggered revolutions in military tactics, how ballistics tests—frequently bizarre—were secretly conducted, and which firearms determined the course of entire wars.

From physics to geopolitics, from frontiersmen to the birth of the National Rifle Association, from the battles of the Revolution to the war in Iraq, American Rifle is a must read for history buffs, gun collectors, soldiers—and anyone who seeks to understand the dynamic relationship between the rifle and this nation’s history.


From the Hardcover edition.
In the grand tradition of John Keegan’s enduring classic The Face of Battle comes a searing, unforgettable chronicle of war through the eyes of the American soldiers who fought in three of our most iconic battles: Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima.

This is not a book about how great generals won their battles, nor is it a study in grand strategy. Men of War is instead a riveting, visceral, and astonishingly original look at ordinary soldiers under fire.

Drawing on an immense range of firsthand sources from the battlefield, Alexander Rose begins by re-creating the lost and alien world of eighteenth-century warfare at Bunker Hill, the bloodiest clash of the War of Independence—and reveals why the American militiamen were so lethally effective against the oncoming waves of British troops. Then, focusing on Gettysburg, Rose describes a typical Civil War infantry action, vividly explaining what Union and Confederate soldiers experienced before, during, and after combat. Finally, he shows how in 1945 the Marine Corps hurled itself with the greatest possible violence at the island of Iwo Jima, where nearly a third of all Marines killed in World War II would die. As Rose demonstrates, the most important factor in any battle is the human one: At Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima, the American soldier, as much as any general, proved decisive.

To an unprecedented degree, Men of War brings home the reality of combat and, just as important, its aftermath in the form of the psychological and medical effects on veterans. As such, the book makes a critical contribution to military history by narrowing the colossal gulf between the popular understanding of wars and the experiences of the soldiers who fight them.

Praise for Men of War

“A tour de force . . . strikingly vivid, well-observed, and compulsively readable.”—The Daily Beast

“Military history at its best . . . This is indeed war up-close, as those who fought it lived it—and survived it if they could. Men of War is deeply researched, beautifully written.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A brilliant, riveting, unique book . . . Men of War will be a classic.”—General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army (Retired)

“The fact is that Men of War moves and educates, with the reader finding something interesting and intriguing on virtually every page.”—National Review

“This is a book that has broad value to a wide audience. Whether the reader aims to learn what actually happens in battle, draw on the military lessons within, or wrestle with what actually defines combat, Men of War is a valuable addition to our understanding of this all-too-human experience.”—The New Criterion

“A highly recommended addition to the literature of military history . . . [Rose] writes vividly and memorably, with a good eye for the telling detail or anecdote.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Using the firsthand accounts of brave soldiers who fought for freedom, Rose sheds new light on viewpoints we haven’t heard as widely before. It’s a welcome perspective in an era where most people have no military experience to speak of.”—The Washington Times

“Rose poignantly captures the terror and confusion of hand-to-hand combat during the battle.”—The Dallas Morning News

“If you want to know the meaning of war at the sharp end, this is the book to read.”—James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The War That Forged a Nation


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bantam
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Published on
Dec 18, 2007
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780307418708
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Presidents & Heads of State
History / Military / United States
History / Revolutionary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the grand tradition of John Keegan’s enduring classic The Face of Battle comes a searing, unforgettable chronicle of war through the eyes of the American soldiers who fought in three of our most iconic battles: Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima.

This is not a book about how great generals won their battles, nor is it a study in grand strategy. Men of War is instead a riveting, visceral, and astonishingly original look at ordinary soldiers under fire.

Drawing on an immense range of firsthand sources from the battlefield, Alexander Rose begins by re-creating the lost and alien world of eighteenth-century warfare at Bunker Hill, the bloodiest clash of the War of Independence—and reveals why the American militiamen were so lethally effective against the oncoming waves of British troops. Then, focusing on Gettysburg, Rose describes a typical Civil War infantry action, vividly explaining what Union and Confederate soldiers experienced before, during, and after combat. Finally, he shows how in 1945 the Marine Corps hurled itself with the greatest possible violence at the island of Iwo Jima, where nearly a third of all Marines killed in World War II would die. As Rose demonstrates, the most important factor in any battle is the human one: At Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima, the American soldier, as much as any general, proved decisive.

To an unprecedented degree, Men of War brings home the reality of combat and, just as important, its aftermath in the form of the psychological and medical effects on veterans. As such, the book makes a critical contribution to military history by narrowing the colossal gulf between the popular understanding of wars and the experiences of the soldiers who fight them.

Praise for Men of War

“A tour de force . . . strikingly vivid, well-observed, and compulsively readable.”—The Daily Beast

“Military history at its best . . . This is indeed war up-close, as those who fought it lived it—and survived it if they could. Men of War is deeply researched, beautifully written.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A brilliant, riveting, unique book . . . Men of War will be a classic.”—General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army (Retired)

“The fact is that Men of War moves and educates, with the reader finding something interesting and intriguing on virtually every page.”—National Review

“This is a book that has broad value to a wide audience. Whether the reader aims to learn what actually happens in battle, draw on the military lessons within, or wrestle with what actually defines combat, Men of War is a valuable addition to our understanding of this all-too-human experience.”—The New Criterion

“A highly recommended addition to the literature of military history . . . [Rose] writes vividly and memorably, with a good eye for the telling detail or anecdote.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Using the firsthand accounts of brave soldiers who fought for freedom, Rose sheds new light on viewpoints we haven’t heard as widely before. It’s a welcome perspective in an era where most people have no military experience to speak of.”—The Washington Times

“Rose poignantly captures the terror and confusion of hand-to-hand combat during the battle.”—The Dallas Morning News

“If you want to know the meaning of war at the sharp end, this is the book to read.”—James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The War That Forged a Nation


From the Hardcover edition.
Students and enthusiasts of American history are familiar with the Revolutionary War spies Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold, but few studies have closely examined the wider intelligence efforts that enabled the colonies to gain their independence. Spies, Patriots, and Traitors provides readers with a fascinating, well-documented, and highly readable account of American intelligence activities during the era of the Revolutionary War, from 1765 to 1783, while describing the intelligence sources and methods used and how our Founding Fathers learned and practiced their intelligence role.

The author, a retired CIA officer, provides insights into these events from an intelligence professional’s perspective, highlighting the tradecraft of intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert actions and relating how many of the principles of the era’s intelligence practice are still relevant today. Kenneth A. Daigler reveals the intelligence activities of famous personalities such as Samuel Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, John Jay, and Benedict Arnold, as well as many less well-known figures. He examines the important role of intelligence in key theaters of military operations, such as Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in General Nathanael Greene’s campaign in South Carolina; the role of African Americans in the era’s intelligence activities; undertakings of networks such as the Culper Ring; and intelligence efforts and paramilitary actions conducted abroad.

Spies, Patriots, and Traitors adds a new dimension to our understanding of the American Revolution. The book’s scrutiny of the tradecraft and management of Revolutionary War intelligence activities will be of interest to students, scholars, intelligence professionals, and anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating era of American history.

George Washington insisted that his portrait be painted with one. Daniel Boone created a legend with one. Abraham Lincoln shot them on the White House lawn. And Teddy Roosevelt had his specially customized.

Now, in this first-of-its-kind book, historian Alexander Rose delivers a colorful, engrossing biography of an American icon: the rifle. Drawing on the words of soldiers, inventors, and presidents, based on extensive new research, and encompassing the Revolution to the present day, American Rifle is a balanced, wonderfully entertaining history of this most essential firearm and its place in American culture.

In the eighteenth century American soldiers discovered that they no longer had to fight in Europe’s time-honored way. With the evolution of the famed “Kentucky” Rifle—a weapon slow to load but devastatingly accurate in the hands of a master—a new era of warfare dawned, heralding the birth of the American individualist in battle.

In this spirited narrative, Alexander Rose reveals the hidden connections between the rifle’s development and our nation’s history. We witness the high-stakes international competition to produce the most potent gunpowder . . . how the mysterious arts of metallurgy, gunsmithing, and mass production played vital roles in the creation of American economic supremacy . . . and the ways in which bitter infighting between rival arms makers shaped diplomacy and influenced the most momentous decisions in American history. And we learn why advances in rifle technology and ammunition triggered revolutions in military tactics, how ballistics tests—frequently bizarre—were secretly conducted, and which firearms determined the course of entire wars.

From physics to geopolitics, from frontiersmen to the birth of the National Rifle Association, from the battles of the Revolution to the war in Iraq, American Rifle is a must read for history buffs, gun collectors, soldiers—and anyone who seeks to understand the dynamic relationship between the rifle and this nation’s history.


From the Hardcover edition.
A gripping portrait of the first president of the United States from the author of Alexander Hamilton, the New York Times bestselling biography that inspired the musical.

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.

Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Ron Chernow's new biography, Grant, will be published by Penguin Press in October 2017. 

“Truly magnificent… [a] well-researched, well-written and absolutely definitive biography” –Andrew Roberts, The Wall Street Journal

“Superb… the best, most comprehensive, and most balanced single-volume biography of Washington ever written.” –Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books

“A truly gripping biography of George Washington... I can’t recommend it highly enough—as history, as epic, and, not least, as entertainment. It’s as luxuriantly pleasurable as one of those great big sprawling, sweeping Victorian novels.”  –Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway musical Hamilton has sparked new interest in the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers. In addition to Alexander Hamilton, the production also features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Aaron Burr, Lafayette, and many more.

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