Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
Nonfiction / American History
When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied--thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn't defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York.
Drawing on extensive research, Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger have offered fascinating portraits of these spies: a reserved Quaker merchant, a tavern keeper, a brash young longshoreman, a curmudgeonly Long Island bachelor, a coffeehouse owner, and a mysterious woman. Long unrecognized, the secret six are finally receiving their due among the pantheon of American heroes.
If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be FASCINATING! I've enjoyed reading about American history my whole life and I would say that I know quite a bit about George Washington, but Brian and Don's book has introduced another side of this great general and later president. I was immediately struck by the honesty that Washington put forth in his shortcomings and outright failures. Without that character trait our nation could have easily been turned in a different direction.
While I loved the insight into Washington, what particularly intrigued me was the Culper Spy Ring itself. Here are six seemingly ordinary people who did extraordinary things while staying under the radar. After reading the book it is hard to imagine such a significant outcome in our American history without this brave group of people. The group was made up of five men, whom we know the identity of, and one woman that still remains a mystery.
If you are reading the paperback edition of this book then you are in for a real treat. With this edition the authors have included an extensive portion about this mystery woman. This woman was always referred to as Agent 355. Her real identity remains a mystery all these years later but the authors have compiled a list of women who could possibly be the elusive Agent 355. They give the reasons for and against each female being the one. Again, absolutely fascinating.
I think every high school student and beyond should read this intriguing book. It makes a pivotal time in our American history absolutely come alive. If you are a homeschool family this really should be worked into your curriculum. I promise you won't regret a moment you spend on reading this book.
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