Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

George Washington, Spymaster

George Washington, Spymaster

Thomas B. Allen
Illustrator:   Cheryl Harness 
For ages 12 and up
National Geographic, 2004   ISBN: 978-0792251262

This is perhaps not a role that many people imagine the "Father of the People" playing but it is nevertheless one which he took upon himself as the need arose. George Washington quickly realised, when he found himself leading the American people against King George and his redcoats, that having intelligence about the enemy was essential. He set about recruiting agents to work for him and then recruiting others who would set up spy rings in various areas and cities as was needed. George Washington and those who worked for him had to become devious, secretive, and they had to develop new ways of thinking about, finding, and collecting information.

There were many devices that George and his cohorts used, many of which are still in use today; invisible ink, codes and ciphers, drop boxes, double agents, and much more. Always there was the race to keep ahead of the enemy and always there was that urgency knowing that so many people relied on you and you alone to get the much needed information which could save lives or bring about a victory.

The author has clearly sifted through an enormous amount of material to create this fascinating little book. With humour and an obvious appreciation for the characters involved in the events described, Thomas B. Allen brings this fascinating world to life complete with tales of deception and treachery. This superbly presented book is illustrated with cunning black ink drawings, prints, and throughout readers will find hidden messages to decipher. Several appendices at the back of the book include a timeline, a code that was used by George Washington’s spies, a list of spy terms, and much more.