Monday, April 28, 2014

Dr. Benjamin Church, Spy: A Case Of Espionage On The Eve Of The Americans Revolution

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of John A. Nagy's Dr. Benjamin Church, Spy: A Case of Espionage on the Eve of the American Revolution.

No less an authority than the American Revolution historian Thomas Fleming calls Dr. Benjamin Samuel Church Jr. “the least known and most dangerous spy in American history.”

Surely he was in a position to do grave harm to the fight for independence from the British. As John Nagy writes, Church was “one of the most admired and respected patriots in Massachusetts,” on a par with John and Samuel Adams and John Hitchcock. He served “on almost every committee of importance” and was the on-site political leader in the state.

In terms of position, Church inarguably was the most important American spy ever, for his treachery could have led to the loss of the war that created the United States. By comparison, such spies as Alger Hiss of the State Department, Aldrich Ames of the CIA and Robert Hanssen of the FBI were mere spear-carriers.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


  1. It is interesting how "our" spies are the good guys, and "their" spies are the bad guys. Of course, John Le Carre thinks that there are no clear moral boundaries -- spies are often (at the same time) immoral, amoral, sacrificial, and self-serving.

  2. Yes, many spies (agents-for-hire) throughout history have been self-serving and the rest, but the many intelligence officers I've known served a great, free nation (the U.S.) against spies and intelligence officers who served evil, totalitarian governments (the Soviet Union, Communist China, Communist Cuba and the like).

    John le Carre, a bitter, left-wing, anti-American, did not see the difference between the East and West intelligence services in the Cold War (see my Crime Beat column,, but those who served during the Cold War certainly do.

    In the American Revolution, Great Britain was on the wrong side of history, as was Church.

  3. Because of my time as CT with NAVSECGRU, I am equally supportive of US intel and spying. However, I do not lose sight of the reality: our enemies have always seen their spies as heroes just as we see ours. Espionage is a complicated, morally muddy "game."

  4. BTW, as a book review, the review is very deficient. The reviewer merely recapitulates the 18th century narrative, but he says nothing at all about the strengths and weaknesses of the book's author's presentation. I am surprised that a newspaper would print this as a "review." Of course, perhaps I am wrong. You tell me.