Bob Wallace and Keith Melton are a power pair of writers and researchers who have produced high quality, fact-based, enjoyable books for decades. The latest in their long string of fantastic books provides a guide to the secret history of spies and counter spies in and around New York.
Their book, Spy Sites of New York: A Guide to the Region’s Secret History, is a fantastic reference to anyone who loves to learn the history of espionage. But is is also a great book for those who enjoy the excitement of spy vs spy action and drama. And for those who are lucky enough to be in or able to travel to the New York area it can provide great tips top plan visits to locations where many critical events of our nation’s history took place.
The nation’s espionage history really began in the New York region. When the colonies began to discuss parting from British rule there was really not a professional espionage system in place. On June 15, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed George Washington as General of the Continental Army. But there was no intelligence service to help him assess adversary intentions or inform him of adversary action. For the first year of General Washington’s time in command of the army he sought information and there were clearly attempts to know what was going on, but the lack of a professional service hurt. This was very clearly demonstrated when the young and brilliant volunteer spy Nathan Hale was caught in New York City. He was part of the first organized intelligence service in the revolt, but the group had little training, especially for the task that Washington needed done. Washington needed to a volunteer to go behind enemy lines to gather intelligence, something Hale had zero training in. His death as a hero helped motivate many in the colonies, but it also proved that intelligence had to be professionalized.
The now widely known Culper Ring would soon begin operations in the region, operating with more secrecy, better tradecraft and well thought out missions.
One day I will visit the locations of action by greats like Nathan Hale and the scenes of major Culper Ring activities, and when I do I’ll have Wallace and Melton’s book by my side.
But that was very long ago. The New York region remained a hotbed of espionage and counterintelligence from the revolutionary war right up to this very moment.
The book description reads:
Through every era of American history, New York City has been a battleground for international espionage, where secrets are created, stolen, and passed through clandestine meetings and covert communications. Some spies do their work and escape, while others are compromised, imprisoned, and―a few―executed. Spy Sites of New York City takes you inside this shadowy world and reveals the places where it all happened.
In 233 main entries as well as listings for scores more spy sites, H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace weave incredible true stories of derring-do and double-crosses that put even the best spy fiction to shame. The cases and sites follow espionage history from the Revolutionary War and Civil War, to the rise of communism and fascism in the twentieth century, to Russian sleeper agents in the twenty-first century. The spy sites are not only in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx but also on Long Island and in New Jersey. Maps and 380 photographs allow readers to follow in the footsteps of spies and spy-hunters to explore the city, tradecraft, and operations that influenced wars hot and cold. Informing and entertaining, Spy Sites of New York City is a must-have guidebook to the espionage history of the Big Apple.
For those that will be in New York city 5 March I have gotten wind of a
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