Book Review: George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger (Three Stars)

Book Review: George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Three Stars

“Slow but credible intelligence was better than fast but muddled–or no intelligence at all.”

A good (true) story, well told. A wealth of quotes from primary sources. Dumbed down for today’s readers, but you expect that from a reporter. The title hyperbole is typical. Several minor factual errors undercut credibility of things hard to verify.

“Washington, whom generations of schoolchildren would later know as a man who ‘could not tell a lie’ couldn’t help but be pleased” he’d misled Clinton.

At least as good as Alexander Rose’s Washington’s Spies. Read either book in preference to expecting history from AMC’s TURN, which is entertaining but turns history inside out and upside down.

“Nature, armies, and young hearts abhor a vacuum.”

Cover blurbs cuts its audience and credibility. The author hides his association with FoxNews (“the most patriotic company in America”) in the Acknowledgements, though presumable he is known to Fox viewers.

“Money is [Benedict Arnold]’s God, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country.” Written in 1777

Implies spies were part of Washington’s desperate “survival strategy.” No, intelligence gathering is part of good generalship. Washington was a good general.

“André had been caught and captured at the same game Tallmadge as playing: they both knew the rules, the rewards, and the risks–and they both knew the penalties.”

After reading the sympathetic chapters on the fate of Major John André, reader might ask, would Washington have hung André in 1780 if Lord Howe hadn’t hung Nathan Hale in 1776? (IMO, probably.)

“I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former days have been glorious and honorable.” George Washington, bidding farewell to his officers in 1783.

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