Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch‘s book The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington was one that seemed could go either way. The idea of it seemed like it could be either really good or a stretch to believe. It was the former. This book was excellent!

Yes, there is much of what you already know – George Washington was a good man, he had the best manners, held his tongue until he needed to speak and when he did – people listened. He was a determined leader that led by example and not through intimidation. He was the statesman we all know and love (okay, well those of us who still believe in America and still believe in our founding fathers.)

It also includes much of what I (and most likely you) didn’t know. There was an extensive plot to overthrow the upstart colonies and their leader General George Washington. His first Surgeon General was a traitor. The Mayor of New York city ran a host of criminal conspiratorial groups set out to convert patriots into the loyalist cause, convert soldiers to support the King and even convince Washington’s personal guards to turn on him.

In the months leading up to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York, William Tryon, and Mayor David Mathews, launched a plot to not only kill Washington, but blow up a key bridge into New York where the revolutionary army was busy training farm boys and roustabouts into soldiers. This book is is the story of the secret plots and how they were revealed.

In those months Washington and the continental congress learn a lifetime’s worth of information about spycraft and counterespionage. This book has moles, spies, leaders, loyalists, double-agents, jailhouse confessors, the largest public execution in the history of the United States, the formation of the first dedicated intelligence agency, and even biological warfare.

It is fascinating that we were just a series of seemingly random events away from the Revolutionary War not even starting and a much different world. It is worth your time!

by Chris Doelle