Friday, September 13, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Lincoln's Spies: Their Secret War To Save A Nation'


The Washington Times published my review of Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War To Save a Nation:

Much has been written about the Civil War and students of military history know much about the great battles and the generals who led and fought those bloody battles.

But perhaps less well known are the Civil War spies who fed those generals the intelligence they required to engage their enemy. Douglas Waller, a former reporter for Time magazine and Newsweek, and the author of “The Commandos: The Inside Story of America’s Secret Soldiers,” “Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage” and other books on intelligence and the military, offers a comprehensive look back at the men and women who risked their lives to provide vital intelligence to the Union Army during the Civil War.      

In Mr. Waller’s “Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War to Save a Nation,” readers learn about the Civil War’s military intelligence officers, counter-intelligence officers, secret agents and informants. Although there are numerous historical characters portrayed in the book, Mr. Waller stated he wanted to write an ensemble biography of four Union spies during the Civil War. According to Mr. Waller, two of the spies were heroes, one was a failure and one was a scoundrel.

Lincoln’s Spies” is the story of Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, George Sharpe and Elizabeth Van Lew — important Union agents who operated mainly in the Civil War’s Eastern Theater, which included Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The U.S. government, of course, ran intelligence operations elsewhere — against Confederates in the Deep South and the western campaigns, for example, and to root out pro-Confederate subversives in the northeastern and northwestern states. To cover all the spying that went on in the Civil War would consume several volumes,” Mr. Waller writes in his note to readers.

“This book focuses on the espionage and counter-espionage of these four operatives in what became a crucial region for the war. The Eastern Theater, in which these agents fought in secret and the Union Army of the Potomac battled the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the open, included the capitals for the two belligerents, Washington and Richmond. On its fields and in its towns and cities were waged many of the largest, costliest, and most consequential battles, which helped determine the outcome of this tragic conflict and the fate of a nation.”

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/12/book-review-lincolns-spies/

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