From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Codes and ciphers, invisible ink and secret messages, spies and counterspies! Covert operations win the Revolutionary War under mastermind Washington in this intriguing take on early American history. Allen presents the facts with a gleeful edge, clearly enjoying his subject and writing with vigor. The author relates the main events of the Revolution chronologically, consistently revealing the shadowy role of intelligence and counterintelligence. Members of the Culper Ring, the "mole" in the Sons of Liberty, and daring women worked as spies, fighting on the secret front where Patriots and Tories looked and sounded alike. Washington's role as spymaster adds a fascinating and fresh perspective on the life of this revered founding father who did far more than cross the Delaware. This small-format book looks like a publication from the 1700s. Set in an antique typeface, it is well illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of archival art and Harness's charming pen-and-ink sketches. Messages written in the Talmadge code (1783) appear throughout, with a key in the appendix. Even the chapter titles are historically appropriate, such as "Franklin's French Friends. IN WHICH a wise man from Philadelphia goes to Paris and outfoxes spies of two nations." This is well-documented, appealing history. It's a good companion to Shannon Zemlicka's Nathan Hale, Patriot Spy (Carolrhoda, 2002), which offers similar coverage on a famous Patriot whose work as a spy cost him his life.Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-8. Allen, the author of Remember Pearl Harbor
(2001) and books of military history, discusses espionage during the Revolutionary War in this small, distinctive-looking volume. The concise narrative traces Washington's use of spies and makes a convincing case for the pivotal role that espionage played in defeating the British. Laced with details about invisible ink, codes, and double agents, the discussion sometimes draws parallels between eighteenth-century deceptions and the methods and vocabulary of modern espionage. The black-and-white illustrations include maps, ink drawings, and reproductions of period paintings, prints, and documents. Though the small size of the pictures detracts from their effectiveness, in other respects the book's design is excellent. Period features include Caslon Antique typeface, pages with uneven side cuts, and a jacket with slightly indented type, recalling the imprints made by eighteenth-century presses. Beneath the jacket is a slightly worn, embossed cover with two secret messages written in tiny letters of code on its top and bottom edges. The extensive, informative back matter includes a time line of the war, a glossary, a substitution code used during the Revolution, notes expanding on the text, source notes for quotes, and an annotated list of recommended books and Internet sites. Handsome, unusual, intriguing. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved