What are the characteristics of a good spy? Loyalty to one's cause and people, a good memory for detail, the abilities to blend in, to lie effectively, to keep secrets and more. Both sides had spies working all the time. If caught, the punishment could be severe, even death. So spies were often interesting people. Sometimes they formed a group or "ring" so they worked together. Sometimes they pretended to be a spy for one side but were really working for the other. They had clever methods of imparting intelligence, long before there was any long distance, instantaneous communication.
Carla McClafferty explores the importance of enemy intelligence as it played out during the American Revolutionary War. She brings history to life with tales of the brave men and women, both patriots and loyalists, who kept their eyes open about the moves of the enemy. Benedict Arnold, once a patriot, became the icon of a traitor. I was particularly interested in his emissary, John André, who was captured in September of 1790 in my home town of Tarrytown, NY. He was carrying Benedict Arnold's surrender of the fort at West Point, which Arnold was selling out for a fee. There is a statue of the capture in Patriot's Park, near the Tarrytown library. He was hanged as a spy at noon on October 2, 1790.
McClafferty's lively take on the intelligence behind the Revolution is a unique and engaging vantage point for some of the key turning points of the war with lots of openings for questions and conversation. There's nothing like a good story to get kids involved.