In the summer of 1778, General George Washington desperately needed to know where the British would strike next. To that end, he unleashed his secret weapon: an unlikely ring of spies in New York, Long Island, and Connecticut charged with discovering the enemy’s battle plans and military strategy.
Washington’s small band included a young Quaker torn between political principle and family loyalty, a swashbuckling sailor addicted to the perils of espionage, a hard-drinking barkeep, a Yale-educated cavalryman and friend of the doomed Nathan Hale, and a peaceful, sickly farmer who begged Washington to let him retire but who always came through in the end. Personally guiding these brave, flawed, everyday heroes was Washington himself. In an era when gentlemen were officers, and gentlemen didn’t spy, he possessed an extraordinary talent for deception—and proved an adept spymaster.
The men he mentored were dubbed the Culper Ring. The British secret service tried to hunt them down, but they escaped by the closest of shaves thanks to their ciphers, dead drops, and invisible ink. Washington’s Spies tells the unknown story of the Revolution—one encompassing the murderous intelligence war, the gunrunning, the kidnappings, and the defections—that has never appeared in the history books. But the book is also a spirited, touching account of friendship and trust, fear and betrayal, amid the dark and silent world of the spy.
“After five years I knew there was a story to tell about [Washington’s] reliance on spies during the Revolutionary War. But I believed the story could never be told because the evidence did not exist. Well, I was wrong, and Alexander Rose tells this important story with style and wit.”━Joseph Ellis, Author of "Founding Brothers"
“Washington’s Spies offers fascinating new research on how Washington organized an intelligence-gathering network that helped turn the American Revolution in his side’s favor.”━Chicago Tribune
“Rose's book offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Washington struggled with being a gentleman while encouraging something that was not considered an undertaking of gentlemen. . . . Most of the American spies had no experience, but they developed a system of working together that outwitted the more experienced British. The members of the Culper ring came from all walks of life and never told anyone of their bravery. But Rose's book brings to light their crucial help in winning American independence.”━Dallas Morning News
“This fascinating and carefully crafted book shows us a side of the Father of Our Country that hero-worshipers since Reverend Weems never imagined—and the almost forgotten covert side of the Revolutionary War.”━National Review
“The cloak-and-dagger flavor of any good story permeates Rose’s book. . . . In the end, although the members of Washington’s spy ring would fade into obscurity, their services contributed greatly to the cause of independence. Through Rose’s book, their efforts are brought to light, and their patriotism and daring recognized.”━Intelligence and National Security
“Gen. George Washington, who brushed ‘counter liquor’ across seemingly innocuous letters to reveal messages written in invisible ink, knew that intelligence is a mosaic formed from many small parts, some fitting more precisely than others. InWashington’s Spies, Alexander Rose has done an admirable job of investigating and reporting on Washington’s wartime intelligence service. “━The Virginian-Pilot
“Washington’s Spies is both well written and thoroughly researched, drawing heavily on original sources . . . [A]n excellent, accurate representation of a significant aspect of the American effort in the War of Independence.”━Long Island Historical Journal
“As this smart and engrossing book makes clear, the general became a master of invisible ink, coded messages and other tools of the trade. His hard-nosed approach—he deplored exaggerations by his agents—helped win the war and still stands as a model for fact seekers everywhere.”━Barron’s