Intelligence in Public Media

Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War

Kenneth A. Daigler. (Georgetown University Press, 2014), 317 pp., illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, and index.

Reviewed by David Robarge

Intelligence during the American Revolution has attracted much scholarly attention in the past decade.  Books dealing with British and patriot spies, France’s covert assistance to the Continental Army, American and British use of cryptology and steganography, and the patriots’ privateer fleet have significantly added to our knowledge of how both sides in the conflict used—or, in the case of the British, generally failed to use—espionage, covert action, and intelligence methods to gain insights into their adversaries’ intentions and capabilities and to achieve advantage on the battlefield. All of the new works are valuable to experts in American Revolution and intelligence history, but the general reader needs an overview that synthesizes the detailed historiography and assesses the overall impact intelligence activities had on the war’s outcome. Kenneth Daigler, a former CIA operations officer with several US government publications to his credit, has satisfied that requirement admirably with Spies, Patriots, and Traitors, the first comprehensive look at the secret War for Independence in nearly 60 years.

In 13 economical and clearly written chapters that rely mainly on secondary accounts and published documentary collections along with some archival sources, Daigler covers the key specific topics of the intelligence war in the broad areas of espionage, covert action, and counterintelligence.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this journal are those of the authors. Nothing in any of the articles should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of their factual statements and interpretations. Articles by non-US government employees are copyrighted.

Posted: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM