Friday, May 30, 2014

George Washington's Secret Six

 by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

This is an account of Washington’s little known, organized spy ring operating out of New York City during the Revolution. It’s also a fascinating account of what New York City and environs were like during the British occupation. The men who were recruited were ordinary citizens and businessmen who served with some trepidation but served faithfully. The authors had to do some real ‘digging’ since little was known about them - not even their names in some cases. Most lived on Long Island and at least one lived in New York City, where he maintained a printing shop and was known as a Tory sympathizer.

Long Island was occupied by the British who moved into the homes of citizens. They were often abusive to those known as Patriots as opposed to the Tory families who favored the British. The descriptions of life on the Island - and in the city - at that time are vivid.

Everyone knows the story of Benedict Arnold and Major Andre. Arnold, who was the hero of Champlain married a woman from a Tory family. He was later given command of West Point, the crucial fort on the  Hudson. He always felt that he was not appreciated and - with the probable encouragement of his wife - plotted to turn West Point over to the British. 

What is so interesting is the detailed account of the personalities of both Arnold and Andre. Andre in particular comes to life here. The reader will be surprised by many of the vivid details of his apprehension and trial. I recommend this book as both a ‘good read’ and most enlightening.

*An amusing footnote: I bought the book before reading the back cover where various notables wrote blurbs — words of praise. I was stunned when the names read like a roster of Conservative stars, among them: Karl Rove (!), Donald Rumsfeld and (oh my) the eminent ‘birther’, Donald Trump. Author Kilmeade himself is host of “Fox & Friends”! It made me approach the book gingerly. Shame on me.

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