Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Martyr and the Traitor:
The ending will leave you hanging. I am so sorry. I’ll do better.
The stories of Nathan Hale (you know him, probably) and Moses Dunbar (you do not) who were both tried and executed for treason. It just turns out one was executed by the Americans and one by the British.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:
Nathan Hale probably lifted his, “I regret that I have but one life to give…” line from a play called Cato. That is, if he even said that at all. History facts ruin good stories sometimes.
Fun Fact for History Nerds:
Nathan Hale NEVER should have been sent in as a spy. He was a complete novice, his cover story was weak at best, and he literally walked right into the arms of a spymaster. George Washington screwed this one up bad.
My Take on The Martyr and the Traitor:
It is a very interesting premise for a book. Take one of the most well-known American spies and contrast him with someone on the other side who met the same fate.
Nathan Hale is pretty well-known even to the non-history crowd. Held aloft as a symbol of virtue in dying for a country that didn’t exist, Hale uttered immortal words to every American. History, however, is much murkier. Hale was a well educated and true believer in the revolution. He was not a spy, not trained as a spy, and horribly ill-suited for it. It takes the shine off the story a bit, but he did what he did as a patriot and that means something.
Moses Dunbar, by contract, was more disaffected than anything else. His story is nowhere near as interesting and he comes off as more selfish and vindictive than anything else.
Anderson writes a good book for the fanatics of the time period (like me!), but if you don’t want your romantic view of history tampered with then this won’t be up your alley.
The story is good, and the research is top notch. If you love this time period, then this book is for you. Buy it here!
If You Liked This Try:
- Nathaniel Philbrick, Bunker Hill and Valiant Ambition
- Ron Chernow, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton
- Thomas B. Allen, Tories
- Robert Watson, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn
- John Oller, The Swamp Fox