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In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York William Tryon and Mayor David Mathews, launched In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York William Tryon and Mayor David Mathews, launched a deadly plot against the most important member of the military: George Washington himself. This is the story of the secret plot and how it was revealed. It is a story of leaders, liars, counterfeiters, and jailhouse confessors. It also shows just how hard the battle was for George Washington—and how close America was to losing the Revolutionary War. Taking place during the most critical period of our nation’s birth, The First Conspiracy tells a remarkable and previously untold piece of American history that not only reveals George Washington’s character, but also illuminates the origins of America’s counterintelligence movement that led to the modern day CIA.


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In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York William Tryon and Mayor David Mathews, launched In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York William Tryon and Mayor David Mathews, launched a deadly plot against the most important member of the military: George Washington himself. This is the story of the secret plot and how it was revealed. It is a story of leaders, liars, counterfeiters, and jailhouse confessors. It also shows just how hard the battle was for George Washington—and how close America was to losing the Revolutionary War. Taking place during the most critical period of our nation’s birth, The First Conspiracy tells a remarkable and previously untold piece of American history that not only reveals George Washington’s character, but also illuminates the origins of America’s counterintelligence movement that led to the modern day CIA.

30 review for The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brad Meltzer

    Loved it. Duh.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Hall

    ARC sent to me by Flatiron Books. Actually did not finish this, but it is the end of the year and I can't bring myself to continue reading a book that is so hard for me to read without throwing it down every page or so in frustration. I will say, I'm still very interesting in the subject. The writing style of Meltzer and Mensch just DID NOT work for me at all. Let's talk about why I stopped reading this at page 81. 1. Is this book seriously marketed for adults???? Because so much of it was dumbed ARC sent to me by Flatiron Books. Actually did not finish this, but it is the end of the year and I can't bring myself to continue reading a book that is so hard for me to read without throwing it down every page or so in frustration. I will say, I'm still very interesting in the subject. The writing style of Meltzer and Mensch just DID NOT work for me at all. Let's talk about why I stopped reading this at page 81. 1. Is this book seriously marketed for adults???? Because so much of it was dumbed down. In just the 80 pages I read, the word "loyalist" was defined three separate times. The authors also defined what a "woman of ill repute" was. The final thing that made me put down this book was the authors quoting a colonial sailor and then immediately "translating" the quote, even though it was perfectly understandable the first time we read it. The entire (short) time I was reading this book, I felt as though the authors thought I was too stupid to understand basic English words and phrases. 2. It read too much like a novel. I'm all for making nonfiction less dry and more accessible to wider audiences, but this tried way too hard. "Cliffhanger" sentences and sensationalized ways of phrasing facts that are pretty common knowledge was just absurd. It really only served as a distraction and, after awhile, seemed really cheesy. Also, spoiler alert, we already know George Washington doesn't die so trying to build the suspense seems pointless. 3. Too many italicized words. It was ridiculous and totally unnecessary. And some of them were only italicized because they were outdated words that needed defining. I felt like there would be a vocab quiz at the end of the chapter when I read them. 4. I hated that it was told in present tense. That is just an awful tactic for, once again, trying to increase tension but was really just annoying. Which brings me to the fact that the book also jumped back and forward in time frequently. So not only does using the present tense really not make sense, the time jumping was another failed tactic to increase tension. Maybe I'll pick this up again next year. Or maybe I'll just do some Googling to find out the details of the assassination plot without suffering through almost 400 pages of nonsense.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The time during America’s Revolutionary War was anything but peaceful, as many history books have explained over the years. When Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch came together to pen this book, they sought not only to explore some of the more confrontational aspects of the period, but also to uncover a little-known (read: documented) conspiracy against George Washington that seeped almost to the core of the Continental Army. The book opens by exploring some of the early goings-on within the colonies The time during America’s Revolutionary War was anything but peaceful, as many history books have explained over the years. When Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch came together to pen this book, they sought not only to explore some of the more confrontational aspects of the period, but also to uncover a little-known (read: documented) conspiracy against George Washington that seeped almost to the core of the Continental Army. The book opens by exploring some of the early goings-on within the colonies as they sought to band together in order to toss off the yoke of their British oppressors. In the early days of the Continental Congress, one man stood out amongst all the delegates, a former military officer from Virginia, George Washington. Chosen to lead the Continental Army, Washington began preparing for what would surely be a major campaign on many fronts. While some of the colonial areas were easily swayed by Continental sentiment, there were large pockets of Loyalists, those who stayed true to King and Country. One of these pockets was New York, where the Colonial Governor, William Tryon, was prepared to fight in order to hold onto power. Washington, surrounded by an elite group of soldiers called the Life Guards, sought to use all the force at his disposal while being protected, hoping to unseat Tryon and push forward with overtaking New York. As the authors explore, even when Tryon was forced to flee into exile, plots to disrupt and remove Washington from his position of power began. Working to infiltrate the Continental Army commenced, creating turncoats out of those who took up arms against the King, and a plot to remove Washington took shape. All the while, the Continental Congress created a secret committee to explore these whispers, in hopes of finding those who were conspiring and bringing them to justice. It would seem that even those closest to Washington might have been involved in turning against him, even before the formal Declaration of Independence was signed and sent to the British. Just how deep did the conspiracy go and what were the plans if Washington were caught? Meltzer and Mensch dazzle the reader with details and possible plans, as well as how the conspiracy was dismantled and its plotters brought from out of the shadows. A wonderful read for those who enjoy colonial history at the time of the Revolutionary Wars, as well as readers with an interest in political schemes. I have long been a fan of Brad Meltzer’s work and picked this book up in order to read another of his historical thrillers. It was only when I started reading that I came to understand that this was a piece of non-fiction. It is written in such a way that the reader can fully absorb the impact of the plotting without drowning in too much detail. Meltzer and Mensch lay the groundwork effectively, offering some biographical pieces on the key players, before delving into the core of the story that shows how both sides were keen on pushing forward and removing those in positions of authority. While Washington was apparently in imminent danger on many occasions, he kept his eye on the prize and sought not to peer over his shoulder at every turn. The various plots and conspiracies evolved effectively throughout the narrative, coming to a head as the story builds. Even in the closing chapters, the authors posit what might have been had the conspiracy succeeded and how might present day America be different. While this is surely alternate history, it is interesting to wonder and surmise. With short chapters, the authors offer repeated lures to pull the reader into the middle of the story and offers little-known (to me at least) insights into the attempts to remove Washington, at times plots to kidnap, but also whispers of more violent means. The smooth-flowing narrative keeps the reader enthralled and entertained as they learn some of facts that have been buried in footnotes, letters, and journals. Not to be missed by those who love learning about historical events buried within larger narratives well-documented in tomes. Kudos, Messrs. Meltzer and Mensch, for holding my attention throughout. I was pleased to learn so much while being entertained, as I am in the fiction I have come to know and love. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This story takes place in 1776. It is about a secret plot by the British to assassinate George Washington. The book is well written and extensively researched. The story jumps about following different people, but it all flows together. The author chose to write in the present tense which is unusual for a non-fiction book. The story reads like a novel and at times is suspenseful. I was amazed at the number of Continental Soldiers that were recruited as spies and saboteurs particularly among the L This story takes place in 1776. It is about a secret plot by the British to assassinate George Washington. The book is well written and extensively researched. The story jumps about following different people, but it all flows together. The author chose to write in the present tense which is unusual for a non-fiction book. The story reads like a novel and at times is suspenseful. I was amazed at the number of Continental Soldiers that were recruited as spies and saboteurs particularly among the Lifeguards (Washington’s bodyguards). The story is entertaining and interesting. It is well worth the read. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is eleven hours and eight minutes. Scott Brick does an excellent job narrating the book. Brick is an actor and award-wining audiobook narrator. He has won fifty Earphone Awards and five Audie Award as well as twice being the Publisher Weekly’s Best Narrator Award.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    You won't believe what happens in Brad Meltzer's latest book! That's pretty much it, page, after page of foreshadowing, with some History Channel level prose to fill it up. In fact, I am pretty sure I already learned some of this back when I used to watch the History Channel. And, that brings me to the title, "The First Conspiracy:The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington." There was no known plot to kill George Washington. Not in any historical record, not in any handed down tradition. Meltzer a You won't believe what happens in Brad Meltzer's latest book! That's pretty much it, page, after page of foreshadowing, with some History Channel level prose to fill it up. In fact, I am pretty sure I already learned some of this back when I used to watch the History Channel. And, that brings me to the title, "The First Conspiracy:The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington." There was no known plot to kill George Washington. Not in any historical record, not in any handed down tradition. Meltzer and his co-author made it up to sell a book. The only references made in any documents quoted in this book are in two journal entries written after the fact, one of them by a civilian who had nothing to do with the case. The fact that no mention of assassination of Washington is made in any official documents is offered by the authors as proof the plot existed! They had to keep the knowledge of the plot secret, don't you know. Today, this is know as a tin foil hat conspiracy. Finally, back to the foreshadowing. I am always uncomfortable when an author resorts to it too frequently. It implies a lack of faith in the merits of your own material to keep the reader engaged. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review on Goodreads. Oh, not to spoil anything, but we won the war.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    2.5*'s What irked me while reading this is the author kept trying to build fake suspense that came off like a bad TV documentary such as American Greed or How to Make a Murderer. Spoiler alert: they fail! I know shocking. You just cannot again and again try to breed false tension into a story so well know. Just tell the story. Second complaint was only about a third of it was about the conspiracy. This was primarily about the start of the war. I think the title is a bit misleading. The research w 2.5*'s What irked me while reading this is the author kept trying to build fake suspense that came off like a bad TV documentary such as American Greed or How to Make a Murderer. Spoiler alert: they fail! I know shocking. You just cannot again and again try to breed false tension into a story so well know. Just tell the story. Second complaint was only about a third of it was about the conspiracy. This was primarily about the start of the war. I think the title is a bit misleading. The research was good and there were facts I didn't know which I'm always appreciative of.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cherei

    Totally enjoyed reading The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer. My husband's side of the family is related via George Washington's eldest brother. It was pure delight to read about their relationship and how his brother helped George form the firm moral compass. Knowing right from wrong. Knowing that man should do what is right not for personal gain but simply because it's the right thing to do. A trait that remains in the family to present day! As one wh Totally enjoyed reading The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer. My husband's side of the family is related via George Washington's eldest brother. It was pure delight to read about their relationship and how his brother helped George form the firm moral compass. Knowing right from wrong. Knowing that man should do what is right not for personal gain but simply because it's the right thing to do. A trait that remains in the family to present day! As one who doesn't always see how others scheme and plot.. it was an eye opening documentation of what Washington had to endure and protect himself as well as those who were fighting to bring about one of the best political experiments of all time! Meltzer really dived into the weeds and documented the story of who, what, where, when and the why behind every person involved. I liked that he really captured what drove them to certain acts.. and why they were so vindictive. I've never understood how man could harm others for wanting to do the right thing for mankind. I guess.. it all comes down to control.. and most humans do not want others to have the freedom to think for themselves. To be in charge of their own destiny. Thank goodness.. Washington succeeded where so many would have failed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    W. Whalin

    Unusual Story About George Washington and Early US History I’ve read a number of Brad Meltzer novels and have enjoyed them. For THE FIRST CONSPIRACY, Meltzer teams with Josh Mensch and writes history about the early days of America. This book held my attention from beginning to end but it was definitely different than the Meltzer novels . Tbis history book enlightens readers about the origins of America’s counterintelligence and a previously untold part of American history. I enjoyed this book and Unusual Story About George Washington and Early US History I’ve read a number of Brad Meltzer novels and have enjoyed them. For THE FIRST CONSPIRACY, Meltzer teams with Josh Mensch and writes history about the early days of America. This book held my attention from beginning to end but it was definitely different than the Meltzer novels . Tbis history book enlightens readers about the origins of America’s counterintelligence and a previously untold part of American history. I enjoyed this book and read it cover to cover. I recommend it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A.G.

    The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington is an interesting book about the little known history of the early days of colonialist grievances against the British and the plots of possible abduction and/or assassination of the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington. Brad Meltzer and co-author Josh Mensch have created a history book that is part mystery story, spy story, conspiracy story, biography, character study, and the story of the beginnings of coun The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington is an interesting book about the little known history of the early days of colonialist grievances against the British and the plots of possible abduction and/or assassination of the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington. Brad Meltzer and co-author Josh Mensch have created a history book that is part mystery story, spy story, conspiracy story, biography, character study, and the story of the beginnings of counterintelligence. The story is told with suspense and as the intrigue increases, the reader also senses the urgency that the British ships will be arriving soon and the rag-tag Continental Army is not prepared for the greatest powers in the world, the British navy/army and King George III. George Washington has his work cut out for him as the authors repeat several times. While obviously much research was done for the book and the history is interesting, the writing style was a bit tedious with the very short chapters, frequent time and place shifts and too many inserted author word and passage definitions and explanations. The words and passages they felt needed interpretation were perfectly understandable and any reasonably intelligent reader could grasp the meaning for themselves. For some reason, perhaps to increase the page count for the book, the authors repeated in different parts of the narrative some things that they had reported or explained earlier, as if they felt the reader could not remember what they had read before. As Mr. Meltzer stated in the Author's Note, the book was started as a mystery and there is too much of the mystery style in the writing in my opinion. Many chapters end with some kind of an expressed "cliffhanger," -- I guess used to urge the reader to turn the page, as in a mystery "pageturner," and not needed except for the dramatic effect the author thought it might produce. The style of writing made me feel the book was aimed at the 8th, 9th or perhaps 10th grade level rather than to the adult reader. In spite of the above, however, this is an important book that tells the fascinating story not only of the plots against Washington, but the history of the forging of an independent nation, the hardships Washington and his army faced, the clear depiction of the opposing Loyalists and their subversive plans, the difficult terrain and distances between cities and towns, and of course the early establishment of crucial espionage and counter-espionage techniques endorsed by John Jay. When I closed the book after finishing, I thought - that was a really good book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    It's hard to believe all the five-star reviews here. I found the writing to be irritating as it's definitely not for adults, but for elementary school children. Everything is overly simplistic, repetitious, and sensationalized. Somehow I stuck with it to the end even though it annoyed me. I have never read any other Brad Meltzer book and if he wrote them all like this one then I have no intention of reading them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joann Amidon

    The historical facts presented in this book are worth reading about and I was happy to learn new facts as well as remember some I knew. However, the writing is so inferior I can only rate the book with one star.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jazzy

    I liked this, but it seemed like a 200-page book stretched out to 400+ pages. While the main topic of the book is what is named in the title, the book includes a lot of background information that doesn't always directly pertain to the assassination plot, and that sometimes has nothing at all to do with the plot. Sometimes, it's just background information on some of the people involved. Having just completed Chernow's biography of GW a couple of weeks before I got The First Conspiracy, it was ni I liked this, but it seemed like a 200-page book stretched out to 400+ pages. While the main topic of the book is what is named in the title, the book includes a lot of background information that doesn't always directly pertain to the assassination plot, and that sometimes has nothing at all to do with the plot. Sometimes, it's just background information on some of the people involved. Having just completed Chernow's biography of GW a couple of weeks before I got The First Conspiracy, it was nice to see a specific moment in GW's life stretched out and expounded on. Much of the extra details help illuminate what I had recently learned about GW. Still, some editorial snipping would have made this move along a little more briskly. The authors utilized a lot of psychological guesswork to try and guess the various characters' motivations. That would have been okay in a limited fashion, but it seems they did it with nearly every character. Further, they often presented several guesses why a character might have done one act or another, then the authors would parse through each option before lukewarmly settling on one possible motivation ... then sometimes ending with a variation of "we'll never really know why." That sort of guesswork is fine at a dinner party, but gets a little tedious in a historical retelling of important events. Bottom line, entertaining and informative, but a little windy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    I received an uncorrected advance reader copy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I’ve been entering giveaways for over five years and finally got lucky, so I can assure you that real people win. Pros: Written in an engaging, modern style and divided into 80+ brief chapters, The First Conspiracy is a propulsive read. It tells a story that I’d never heard before despite growing up in George Washington’s home state and taking at least three years of Virginia History in school. Each thread in the schem I received an uncorrected advance reader copy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I’ve been entering giveaways for over five years and finally got lucky, so I can assure you that real people win. Pros: Written in an engaging, modern style and divided into 80+ brief chapters, The First Conspiracy is a propulsive read. It tells a story that I’d never heard before despite growing up in George Washington’s home state and taking at least three years of Virginia History in school. Each thread in the scheme is told separately and in turn each is pulled so they all come together for a dramatic conclusion. Also, The First Conspiracy is a refreshing break from the typical Washington hagiography in that it doesn’t shy away from showing the great man’s fury and his early (and numerous) failures in battle. Cons: While the story is interesting, the telling of that story gets in the way a lot. Most chapters end on a cliffhanger of the “but little did they know...” variety. A kidnapping (or murder?) plot is afoot, I think the events are compelling enough already. I’ll grant that this may be because I was reading an uncorrected proof, but I was also put off by heavy repetition of *plot* points (pun intended) that served to remind the reader of the major players and what was happening. These slowed down the narrative. I also rolled my eyes at the use of “literally” for emphasis when “figuratively” would’ve been truer. I try to not nitpick grammar and word choice since most of the time that’s hardly the point, but I found that the casual style diminished the authority of the voice telling me the story. Finally, during what should have been a thrilling conclusion I found myself a bit bored as numerous court/Continental Congress documents were described — the steam seemed to have gone out of the narrative. Bottom line: The First Conspiracy ultimately wasn’t my cup of tea, but it succeeds in shedding light on a little known threat to George Washington that could’ve changed the course of history. I haven’t read other books by Brad Meltzer, but thriller fans will probably appreciate the lively, (mostly) fast-paced style.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    What a story! I've been enjoying Brad Meltzer's books for years but this is the best of them all. Who knew that a tale of a secret plot against George Washington could be so riveting. This is an easy-to-read, engrossing story that reveals much about the early years of the American revolution. A solid recommend! I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway for this honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. **Minor Spoilers** If you are reading this I believe you likely understand the general premise of the book so not going to rehash. I also write reviews when procrastinating at work so my time, thus this review, is limited in scope. First off, the title of the book is absolutely misleading which summarize the general style of the author. When I hear "assassination attempt" I think of one person taking direct and immediate action that would result in physically eliminating the targeted individual. **Minor Spoilers** If you are reading this I believe you likely understand the general premise of the book so not going to rehash. I also write reviews when procrastinating at work so my time, thus this review, is limited in scope. First off, the title of the book is absolutely misleading which summarize the general style of the author. When I hear "assassination attempt" I think of one person taking direct and immediate action that would result in physically eliminating the targeted individual. As in person 'Y' holds a gun, points it at person 'X' and pulls the trigger with intent to kill. However, this book revolves around a scheme (a term I use loosely) to influence individuals to change teams. Said assassination was merely hinted at by a retired official later in life. The major plot line involved the mayor of New York trying to influence locals to back his side which was to remain loyal English citizens. Even in that regard the book falls short. By this I mean there did not seem to be some far reaching plot by nefarious individuals. In actuality, the main antagonist held a legal government position. His goal was to keep local terrorists from mounting an all out rebellion. So "plot to kill" is not exactly accurate, more like "guy in government trying to do his job". As other reviewers have mentioned the format is too much like a TV show full of misleading cliff hangers and manufactured drama. I am no George Washington expert but I believe someone (maybe you Mr. Metzler) has a man crush on the original G-dubs making him out to be the perfect man. Not a direct quote but close enough for government work. Books such as these are often difficult to ascertain fact from fiction due to the mystique built around the cornerstone of a Nation-State's foundation. I would consider this book an 'airplane novel'. Written in a way that makes it easy and quick to read. There are no rambling prose by the author or deep controversial ideas. You will not be blown away by new and "what he did next was jaw dropping!" historical data. A minor annoyance for me was the author's liberal use of the word "literally". You can stand next to an object without the need to explain that he was "literally standing next to" said object. Small pet peeve. My personal thought is that researching the 'assassination plot' was far more intriguing than the resulting book. I have no doubt trying to uncover a historical mystery would be a rewarding process. Who knows, maybe the author oversold the idea to a publisher only to find there was not much substance to be had. If you are only mildly interested in history this might be a good read. But if you have a deeper interest in history this book can be easily chalked up to, "The other side was trying to do things to win too".

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch 4 Stars I found The First Conspiracy to be a very interesting account of a little known and seldom written about aspect of the American Revolution: a British plot to turn colonists (and especially colonial soldiers) to the British side and (possibly at least) to capture and perhaps kill George Washington and other colonial generals. I won the book in a Goodreads giveaway, so first of all I’d like to thank The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch 4 Stars I found The First Conspiracy to be a very interesting account of a little known and seldom written about aspect of the American Revolution: a British plot to turn colonists (and especially colonial soldiers) to the British side and (possibly at least) to capture and perhaps kill George Washington and other colonial generals. I won the book in a Goodreads giveaway, so first of all I’d like to thank Goodreads, the publisher, and the author for a chance to read and review the book. When I entered the giveaway I didn’t realize that this was a “Young Reader’s Edition” of the book. I was apprehensive when I first saw that but still found the book very interesting and informative. The only major concession to “Young Reader’s” I noted was the very short chapters. Highly recommended. https://mhassett23.blogspot.com/2020/...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Release date - 1/2/2019 This was an absolutely fascinating read! It read like a spy novel with many twists and turns, and it was crazy to think that the events I was reading about actually happened. I had no idea that there was a plot against George Washington even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, or that Washington was the creator of what we know as counterintelligence today. I am not someone who normally gravitates to nonfiction, but this was written in a very compelling way. Release date - 1/2/2019 This was an absolutely fascinating read! It read like a spy novel with many twists and turns, and it was crazy to think that the events I was reading about actually happened. I had no idea that there was a plot against George Washington even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, or that Washington was the creator of what we know as counterintelligence today. I am not someone who normally gravitates to nonfiction, but this was written in a very compelling way. It’s crazy to think about how different this country would be if that plot had succeeded. I was a little bummed that one of the traitors was from CT. Oh well, at least we have Nathan Hale.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    While the story itself is compelling and dramatic enough, Meltzer's buid-up to the conspiracy is really what makes this book so enjoyable. Particularly the story of the Long Island counterfeiters finding themselves wrapped up in the plot.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    THE FIRST CONSPIRACY is an interesting read; I learned quite a lot of information which I was previously unaware. I only wish this book had included the entire war.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    An interesting slice of history that I don’t recall hearing about in school. However, the writing style conveyed that the target audience was middle school kids. The author on several occasions broke the plane between reader and impartial reporter of facts by injecting sophomoric remarks. The text often repeated information already revealed and the very short chapter breaks were annoying. It appeared to be well researched and well documented with good footnotes. But I don’t plan on reading any o An interesting slice of history that I don’t recall hearing about in school. However, the writing style conveyed that the target audience was middle school kids. The author on several occasions broke the plane between reader and impartial reporter of facts by injecting sophomoric remarks. The text often repeated information already revealed and the very short chapter breaks were annoying. It appeared to be well researched and well documented with good footnotes. But I don’t plan on reading any other nonfiction by this author, but I might try one of his many works of fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    3.5 stars - I did enjoy the book and found it a fairly exciting read. I enjoy history, particularly the Revolutionary War period, and throw in a good Spy story and I'm SOLD! I have mixed thoughts though, regarding the book: Pro's: The book contained A LOT of information that was new to me. Much of the information had supporting documents, so I felt the authors were sharing factual data and not too much opinion. The information regarding the "beginnings" of our intelligence/counter-intelligence or 3.5 stars - I did enjoy the book and found it a fairly exciting read. I enjoy history, particularly the Revolutionary War period, and throw in a good Spy story and I'm SOLD! I have mixed thoughts though, regarding the book: Pro's: The book contained A LOT of information that was new to me. Much of the information had supporting documents, so I felt the authors were sharing factual data and not too much opinion. The information regarding the "beginnings" of our intelligence/counter-intelligence organizations was fascinating and detailed. I enjoyed that it read more like a spy thriller instead of a history book, though at times it was a bit over-the-top. Con's: Because it was written more like a spy novel, the use of the Cliffhanger to end EVERY chapter seemed WAY TOO MUCH. There was a point where it seemed about 6-7 chapters in a row ended with the same cliffhanger that wasn't about to be revealed until the end of the story. Also, the repetitive use of FULL names throughout the entire book slowed the read down and felt at times like reading an Eighth Grade history report where the student was trying to reach his 2000 word target. The occasional PRONOUN would be O.K. I also thought the book was about 150 pages TOO LONG; not because it contained too much information or was too descriptive, but the author REPEATED the same information over, and over and OVER. Again, like an Eighth grader trying to write a LOOOOONG book report. Trim this book back 100 pages and eliminate half of the "forced" cliffhangers, and I think this book would be GREAT! I would have loved to give this book 4 or 5 stars, but when I'm glad to get to the last page, like a finish line in a 5K race, 3.5 stars are all I can muster. Just my 2 cents! :)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I clicked on this one when it showed up on my library's website, not really sure what it was about, no clue at all that it was non-fiction. As the book went on it seemed crazy, that it should have been a "historical fiction" take events. It does make a person wonder, how would the world have changed if they were successful. I also can't imagine how Washington felt as he was betrayed by those so close to him.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    Set in the turbulent months of 1776 after George Washington is given command of the Continental army and before the mighty British army arrives in the colonies to put down the rebellion, this fascinating book tells the tale of dastardly plots, treason and the beginnings of the Intelligence service. An enjoyable and satisfying read for all.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Informative story. Maybe a little too informative and that's why I gave it 4 stars. Mr. Meltzer went back over the same material a few times I felt. Still though, it is a good study in the "First Conspiracy" and although I know if the punishment for the main conspirator, I didn't know the back story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    [Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Flatiron Books courtesy of a Goodreads giveaway.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.] This book can best be considered as a historical mystery.  While I would have liked to have seen the footnotes, they were not provided in this copy, but rest assured that they provide some fascinating reading that the authors have uncovered in this fast-paced and dramatic volume.  Coming in at about 400 pages, this is not a short book, but it reads very quickly [Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Flatiron Books courtesy of a Goodreads giveaway.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.] This book can best be considered as a historical mystery.  While I would have liked to have seen the footnotes, they were not provided in this copy, but rest assured that they provide some fascinating reading that the authors have uncovered in this fast-paced and dramatic volume.  Coming in at about 400 pages, this is not a short book, but it reads very quickly.  In fact, it can be said that this book reads like its inevitable film or television adaptation, with short and punchy chapters that go back and forth in time.  As a reader of many books on history, I was very pleased by the structure of this book, because it made the book far easier to read and far more cinematic than many history books are.  Clearly, the authors are not merely masters of obscure and interesting historical material concerning historical mysteries, but are also masters of a compelling prose style that will likely appeal to many readers who want to know a largely unknown story from the early days of the American Revolution. This book is divided into six parts.  The work begins with a prologue in media res that explains George Washington being subject to a trap that has been laid for him that he is not aware of.  Obviously, the reader, knowing him as the victorious leader of the Continental Army and the first president of the United States after the ratification of the Constitution, will want to know more.  The author then looks at the background of George Washington that prepared him for leadership (I).  A section of the book then follows looking at spies in Boston and Washington's quick education in counterintelligence there (II).  Further parts of the book focus on the bloodiness of the Summer of 1776 (III), the infernal plot against Washington (IV), the question of sacricide (V) and the aftermath of the uncovering of the plot against Washington in the retreat of Washington and his troops from New York (VI).  The authors manage to tell this story by weaving together political and military history along with a great deal of procedural information that shows the skill the colonists were gaining in conducting intelligence and counterintelligence work, not only focusing on George Washington but also John Jay and more obscure figures on both sides. There is a wide potential reading audience for a book like this.  On the one hand, the book has obvious historical interest for those who are interested in the American revolution, and particular the war as it relates to New York City and the divide that existed between loyalists and patriots.  Likewise, the book is of interest to those who like to read about counterintelligence and intelligence efforts in the American Revolution [1].  The story is told in a compelling fashion that draws upon shrewd psychological insights into important historical figures and also the realization the the American Revolution was full of the sort of skulduggery that one expects from contemporary warfare.  The authors make a strong case for John Jay's role as an American pioneer in counterintelligence and also for the importance of the Life Guards as a precursor to the Secret Service, which also provides some historical plausibility for some of the authors' other works that rely to areas where politics and government and espionage correspond.  This is a historical mystery and thriller, and a compelling one that deserves a wide and appreciative audience. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I applaud the Authors for bringing to light a little known conspiracy to kill or kidnap Washington and conceivably change the whole course of history . The book has some interesting and even informative moments but the writing leaves a lot to be desired. The book seems to be geared to the late night talk show " person on the street" who doesn't know that New Mexico is part of the United States. Every thing is simply explained and repeatedly explained. Despite being melodramatic at times the Auth I applaud the Authors for bringing to light a little known conspiracy to kill or kidnap Washington and conceivably change the whole course of history . The book has some interesting and even informative moments but the writing leaves a lot to be desired. The book seems to be geared to the late night talk show " person on the street" who doesn't know that New Mexico is part of the United States. Every thing is simply explained and repeatedly explained. Despite being melodramatic at times the Authors enthusiasm for their tale makes up for what could have been a more scholarly presentation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Yibbie

    This left me feeling as if I was watching a History Channel documentary. I don’t mind an author getting passionate about his subject, but this takes history and tries to turn it into the next best-selling thriller. Rather than telling us what happened, the author filled it with flowery descriptive sentences that are fun to read but get repetitive and distracting after a while. There really isn’t much to this conspiracy, so much of this book is sensationally written extraneous information that This left me feeling as if I was watching a History Channel documentary. I don’t mind an author getting passionate about his subject, but this takes history and tries to turn it into the next best-selling thriller. Rather than telling us what happened, the author filled it with flowery descriptive sentences that are fun to read but get repetitive and distracting after a while. There really isn’t much to this conspiracy, so much of this book is sensationally written extraneous information that is mostly background setting. For example, just so we have no doubt as to the identity of and the history of the man who informed the authorities about the conspiracy, Meltzer includes the complete history of his crime. That takes us off on a tangent about monetary policy. Or when there is an outbreak of smallpox in the army, he speculates about what would happen if Washington were to catch it for a while before letting us know that Washington had it years before as a teenager. Also, every subject is treated in an over the top suspenseful manner, and every character is either a complete hero or a complete villain. That might work in a thriller, but it doesn’t work so well in a history book. Then there was the speculation about what everyone felt about this or that subject. The way the author defines and explains any term that might be considered even vaguely antiquated makes it seem as if he is writing for a very young audience. But his choice to include sections describing the interaction between the ‘women of ill repute’ and the Continental Army, makes it for an adult audience. So again I was left with the feeling that it was written for a TV audience. So I enjoyed learning about the conspiracy and even enjoyed the details about New York City during the beginning days of the Revolution. I just don't recommend it as good history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diana D

    About a quarter of the way through this book, I lost patience, and it was a struggle to continue reading it, even though it was an easy read. Chapters don't exceed 5 pages. (!) The writing is fairly simple. The word "comprised" is used way too frequently, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. Characters (real people) are explained in context, and explained again, and when referenced later oh don't worry, they're explained again! A pattern became clear, and by the time I reached the end of About a quarter of the way through this book, I lost patience, and it was a struggle to continue reading it, even though it was an easy read. Chapters don't exceed 5 pages. (!) The writing is fairly simple. The word "comprised" is used way too frequently, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. Characters (real people) are explained in context, and explained again, and when referenced later oh don't worry, they're explained again! A pattern became clear, and by the time I reached the end of chapter 25, I went back to the prologue and prelude (2 different intro chapters for no reason!) to count how often it was happening -- 14 out of those first 27 portions ended with a line that might as well have read, "But the worst was yet to come." I've never read Meltzer before, but are his fictional detective stories like this? Are they written like movie scenes that scream "insert ominous music here"? Are they 357 pages long with about 26 pages of new information split up into 80 chapters? There are some great, interesting scenes in here. I never knew Washington had contracted smallpox in Barbados. I never even knew George Washington spent time in Barbados. I had never heard of Henry Knox's incredible journey to smuggle the cannons from the Forts Ticonderoga. That feat deserved more than the 2 pages it got! But clearly we needed 355 pages to remind readers that Gilbert Forbes was a gunsmith. The blurbs on the back of this book were provided by noted biographers and former Presidents... this book... argh... I am somehow glad I read it, but it could have been half the size. George Herbert Walker Bush HAD to have agreed with me. Was it written for tv or to become a movie? It was aggravatingly repetitive and anticlimactic. I cheered myself up by imagining chapter-end closeups of George Washington's face with ominous organ chords blaring.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chastain

    Bookclub book or else I would not have read it, but glad I did. USA history written like a thrilling novel with new and interesting tidbits galore. Summer 1776 is the narrow focus of this book, the place is NYC and this was just the beginning of the 7 year revolution.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    “Could I have foreseen what I have and am like to experience, no consideration upon earth should have induced me to accept this command.” GW Two hundred pages of information crammed into four hundred pages of exposition. Ends every chapter with a teaser to the next and opens every chapter with a recapitulation of the previous materials. Often reintroduces each character with a short biography. As if they assume the readers can’t remember. Or they’re paid by the word. “Though Washington doesn’t kn “Could I have foreseen what I have and am like to experience, no consideration upon earth should have induced me to accept this command.” GW Two hundred pages of information crammed into four hundred pages of exposition. Ends every chapter with a teaser to the next and opens every chapter with a recapitulation of the previous materials. Often reintroduces each character with a short biography. As if they assume the readers can’t remember. Or they’re paid by the word. “Though Washington doesn’t know it yet, Tryon’s plot has infiltrated his own army, reaching those in whom the general has placed his greatest trust.” Nonetheless, a good connect-the-dots inquiry into the plots and counterplots of both sides in 1775-76 New York City. The role of Royal Governor William Tryon and his minions is exhaustively enumerated. “Americans didn’t even know there was a Culper Ring until the 1930s. That’s how good its members were at keeping secrets.” The first sentence is a paraphrase of Wikipedia, but still wrong. The Memoir of Col. Benjamin Tallmadge was published in 1858 to set the record straight because others had sensationalized and misrepresented the whole business. It was tabloid grist, not a deep, dark secret. “Rarely does Washington overtly evoke religion in his writing, but he sometimes refers to the semi-spiritual idea of “Providence”—a sense of fate that lies beyond mortal hands.” Malarkey. The twenty-first century redefinition of George Washington’s spirituality continues. Providence was not a “semi-spiritual idea … of fate”; it was typical of polite conversation for that day. John Jay, whom everyone recognizes as a devote Christian, uses the same referent: “upon the whole I have reason to be satisfied with my share of the attention of Providence.” Either poor scholarship or an agenda. “While many Americans at the time believed that the goal of the plot was to kill Washington, a plan to kidnap him may have been more likely.” “It never got easy, and he never gave up.”

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