Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence During the Revolutionary War by Kenneth A. Daigler

Synopsis: 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. 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. (from the online description)

Review: Daigler's book is full of interesting facts, exciting stories and amusing tidbits all presented through lively prose. Well-researched and well-organized, Daigler presents the history of spies and intelligence gathering during the Revolution with the accuracy of a historian and the assessment of someone practiced in the field of espionage. This gives this history book an unusual, but much welcome, lightness. So many historians write dull book that drag on. Not this one. Daigler did an excellent job of presenting this fascinating subject in easy to read (but not dumb-down) prose that even an amateur history buff will understand. However, this book would work well for a classroom textbook and would make a fine addition to professional historians bookshelf. I highly recommend for anyone interested in the history of the America and the American Revolution.

NOTE: I received this book free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program, in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-62616-050-7
Date Finished: 4-25-2014
Pages: 310

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