Sunday, April 24, 2011

George Washington: Spy Master by Thomas B Allen

This book got a lot of attention when it came out in 2004, and won several awards, but somehow I never got around to reading it until now. I am glad I did. This is a great historical nonfiction about the spy networks the George Washington set up during the Revolutionary War. The author has written numerous books about both the Revolutionary War and the spying. In this book he brings the two interests together and he clearly knows what he is talking about. He puts the things that Washington did in terms of modern FBI/CIA terminology. So kids who are already into the whole spy lingo, will love reading history, and the kids who love history will learn all the cool spy lingo. There are lots interesting stories about daring spies and spy missions. I especially liked the stories of what some of the women did to help the intelligence operations. One mother wrote little reports and then sewed them into the covered buttons on her son's coat. All he had to do to deliver the message was tear off his buttons and hand them to the commanding officer. Another lady had a laundry code. Each handkerchief she hung up on the clothesline represented so many British troops quartered in her village. Allen is meticulous with his sources. He clearly states when facts come from documents or other reliable sources, or just stories passed down through families. This is a great choice for an upper grade school or junior high boy or girl who has to read a nonfiction book over 150 pages. (184 p)

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