Friday, 5 November 2010

George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas B. Allen

January 2004
184 pages, Paperback
Personal Copy

Non-fiction, Children's

Talk of war, sneakiness, secrets, invisible ink, prison, and spies

Summary from Random House
Now in paperback—the award-winning National Geographic book that presents the untold story of the invisible war behind the American Revolution. A riveting tale of intrigue, spies, counterspies and secret agents, George Washington, Spymasteris a unique and entertaining account of one of the most important chapters in our nation's history. The compelling narrative reveals the surprising role played by the first commander-in-chief, General George Washington in the War of Independence.

Follow the action as 1775 dawns, and Washington finds himself in serious trouble. At war with Britain, the world's most powerful empire, his ragtag army possesses only a few muskets, some cannons, and no money. The Americans' only hope is to wage an invisible war—a war of spies, intelligence networks, and deception.

Enter the shadowy world of double agents, covert operations, codes and ciphers—a world so secret that America's spymaster himself doesn't know the identities of some of his agents. Meet members of the elusive Culper Ring, uncover a "mole" in the Sons of Liberty, and see how invisible ink and even a clothesline are used to send secret messages. You can even use Washington's own secret codebook, published here for the first time. Experience at close quarters the successes and failures of the Americans as they strive to outwit the British. Meet the chief of covert operations, one Benjamin Franklin, and several other surprising players in America's secret war.

Author Thomas B. Allen has sifted through dozens of historical documents and coded letters to uncover the facts about a time shrouded in secrets. Archival art, coupled with lively pen-and-ink sketches by children's illustrator Cheryl Harness, detail all the action and adventure of this momentous tale. Like the highly acclaimed hardback, this little paperback is sure to have a big impact on the imagination of readers everywhere.

Liana's Thoughts
Are we the only family who has a favorite war? Is this an army-brat thing? I have no idea. I do know that around our house the war of preference is the Revolutionary War. This book was originally purchased for my husband, but wound up with the children after we'd read through.

This is a fun book. Not all non-fiction manages to be entertaining, but author Thomas B. Allen has a wonderful voice and presents the facts with the verve of a classic story-teller. With prints of wood-cuts, maps, and letters Allen weaves an educational tale of spies, heroes, and bravery.

With facts, citations, and visual demonstrations of how to try some of these sneaky spy tricks all the little spies-in-training at home are sure to love this book.

Final Conclusion
This book is for an advanced grade-school reader (over third grade), and I'd recommend it to anyone who already has The Dangerous Book for Boys (or Girls) at home.

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