Monday, September 28, 2020

"The First Conspiracy" by Brad Meltzer with John Mensch (2018)


This is Brad Meltzer's first stab at non-fiction, and with the aid of co-author John Mensch, they have penned a truly riveting account of this overlooked chapter of the American Revolution. 

Long before Lincoln, Pinkerton and the Secret Service there was a group of soldiers assigned to guard General Washington 24 hours a day. They were literally called by the name "The Life Guards." They were armed, and stood close to the General wherever he was. Into every room he went, these men went with him. 

New York City, where the action in this book takes place, was a hotbed of espionage, skullduggery and counterfeiting during the Revolution. Governor Tryon, a Loyalist to the Crown, was forced to live aboard a British ship where no one could get to him. The Mayor, a noted Tory himself, was likewise in seclusion. But they were not idle.

Among the plots and sabotage emanating from Manhattan, were a band of counterfeiters from Long Island. They play a large part in this highly readable, well written book. Only out of their bungling does there emerge that there is a plot amongst a group of men who are members of Washington's own "Life Guards" to kidnap, and or kill, the General. The authors of this plot?  None other than the Governor and the Mayor!

This is a highly charged book which takes place on the eve of the Battle for New York City in June of 1776. The outcome is never in doubt. We won the war and Washington became President. The real story in this book is the beginning of espionage and counter espionage in America. It is a history that is still evolving over 200 years later, only now it continues en masse, and on a world wide stage and scale.