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Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy

by

Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"The historical ledger gives famous spies and traitors a celebrity they rarely sought in their own lives. For Americans, treason and Benedict Arnold are synonymous. When we admire noble patriotism, we think of Nathan Hale, executed by the British as a spy in September 1776, regretting that he had only one life to give for his country. But the most accomplished spy of the American Revolution, Edward Bancroft, was a man whose name is known only to scholars. It took a whole century for knowledge of his espionage to become part of the history of the Revolution." Jack Rakove, The New Republic (Read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A man of as many names as motives, Edward Bancroft is a singular figure in the history of Revolutionary America. Born in Massachusetts in 1745, Bancroft moved to England as a young man in the 1760s and began building a respectable résumé as both a scientist and a man of letters. In recognition of his works in natural history, Bancroft was unanimously elected to the Royal Society, and while working to secure French aid for the American Revolution, he became a close associate of such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and John Adams. Though lauded in his time as a staunch American patriot, when the British diplomatic archives were opened in the late nineteenth century, it was revealed that Bancroft led a secret life as a British agent acting against French and American interests.

In this book, the first complete biography of Bancroft, historian Thomas J. Schaeper reveals the full extent of the agent's deception during the crucial years of the American Revolution. Operating under aliases, working in ciphers, and leaving coded messages in the trees of Paris's Tuileries Gardens, Bancroft filtered information from unsuspecting figures including Franklin and Deane back to his contacts in Britain, navigating a complicated web of political allegiances. Through Schaeper's keen analysis of Bancroft's correspondence and diplomatic records, this biography reveals whether Bancroft should ultimately be considered a traitor to America or a patriot to Britain.

About the Author

Thomas J. Schaeper is professor of history, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300118421
Author:
Schaeper, Thomas J.
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9 x 5.88 n 1.1 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era

Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy New Hardcover
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Product details 352 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300118421 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "The historical ledger gives famous spies and traitors a celebrity they rarely sought in their own lives. For Americans, treason and Benedict Arnold are synonymous. When we admire noble patriotism, we think of Nathan Hale, executed by the British as a spy in September 1776, regretting that he had only one life to give for his country. But the most accomplished spy of the American Revolution, Edward Bancroft, was a man whose name is known only to scholars. It took a whole century for knowledge of his espionage to become part of the history of the Revolution." (Read the entire New Republic review)
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