The Spy Who Kept the Cold War From Boiling Over
In 1984, U.S. Rather, it was a recipe for coot, a small water bird that’s ...read more
The Sex Party-Loving Soviet Spy Who Infiltrated the CIA
In the early 1980s, Karl F. Koecher and his wife Hanna lived a gold-plated life in New York City’s swish Upper East Side. They drove a new, blue BMW and lived in a luxury co-op alongside the tennis star Ivan Lendl and the comedian Mel Brooks. Hanna was a diamond dealer, blue-eyed ...read more
Edward Snowden discloses U.S. government operations
On June 6, 2013, Americans learned that their government was spying broadly on its own people. That’s when The Guardian and The Washington Post published the first of a series of reports put together from documents leaked by an anonymous source. The material exposed a ...read more
How a Black Spy Infiltrated the Confederate White House
Confederate President Jefferson Davis occupied an anxious home in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. A steady leak of information dripped from the highest ranks of the Confederacy to the Union. Davis was wary of a mole in his house, but had no idea how to stop the flow of ...read more
Undercover Ink: How Spies Use Tattoos
Tattoos are more common in the workplace than ever before, but they can still be an occupational hazard. Particularly when your profession happens to be spy. Spycraft often involves moving between legal and criminal worlds—and few things are as risky as being discovered while ...read more
When the Nazis Invaded the Hamptons
The night was especially dark as U.S. Coast Guard seaman John Cullen patrolled the sand dunes of Amagansett, New York, shortly after midnight on June 13, 1942. Regulations in effect after the United States entered World War II six months earlier had already imposed blackouts on ...read more
Robert Hanssen: American Traitor
One of the most damaging double agents in modern American history, Robert Hanssen gave the Soviets, and later the Russians, thousands of pages of classified material that revealed such sensitive national security secrets as the identities of Soviets spying for the U.S., specifics ...read more
Was Ernest Hemingway a Spy?
In his book “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961,” Nicholas Reynolds chronicles Hemingway’s suspected espionage work for both Soviet and U.S. intelligence agencies, before and during the Cold War. A military historian and former U.S. ...read more
OSS: The Predecessor of the CIA
Before 1940, the U.S. State Department, FBI and the different branches of the military all had their own security and counterintelligence operations, which did not easily share information with each other. With another war raging in Europe, however, President Franklin D. ...read more
How a Spy’s Marital Troubles Nearly Derailed D-Day
After fighting briefly in the Spanish Civil War, Juan Pujol García emerged with a disdain for fascist leaders such as Germany’s Adolf Hitler and a desire to make a contribution “to the good of humanity.” So when World War II broke out, the Barcelona native tried to volunteer as a ...read more
When Roald Dahl Spied on the United States
Before he gained fame putting pen to paper, Welsh-born Roald Dahl served as a World War II fighter pilot in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). During one non-combat mission in September 1940, the novice flier was forced to crash-land his Gloster Gladiator biplane in an Egyptian ...read more
The History Teacher Who Outwitted the Gestapo
A Born RebelLucie Bernard was born in 1912 in the small commune of Châtenay-sur-Seine in north-central France, southeast of Paris. As a teenager, she rebelled against her parents’ wishes by refusing to train as a primary school teacher, a solid position that would have helped ...read more
The Exotic Dancer Who Became WWI’s Most Notorious Spy
Mata Hari spent much of her career claiming that she was raised as an Indian temple dancer. In reality, however, she was born Margaretha Zelle on August 7, 1876, and grew up the daughter of a haberdasher in the Dutch town of Leeuwarden. Desperate for adventure, at age 18 she ...read more
6 Traitorous Cold War Spies
1. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Married in 1939, New York City residents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were devoted communists who allegedly headed a spy ring that passed military secrets to the Soviets. The scheme got underway sometime after 1940, when Julius became a civilian ...read more
What was Operation Underworld?
On the afternoon of February 9, 1942, smoke billowed over Manhattan’s west side as a fire consumed SS Normandie, a huge French luxury liner being converted into an American World War II troop transport. Although witnesses reported sparks from a worker’s acetylene torch started ...read more
5 Patriot Spies of the American Revolution
1. Nathan Hale Often dubbed “America’s first spy,” Nathan Hale was a Yale graduate who served in Knowlton’s Rangers, a short-lived Continental reconnaissance unit. When General George Washington’s forces became bottled up on Manhattan Island in September 1776, Hale volunteered ...read more
Remembering the U-2 Spy Plane Incident
Since its first flight in 1956, the U-2 had become the United States’ most effective tool for peering behind the Iron Curtain. The top-secret spy plane was capable of skating along the edge of the atmosphere at altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet—higher than any aircraft then in ...read more
6 Daring Double Agents
1. Eddie Chapman: The crook turned WWII spy who double-crossed the Nazis Born in England in 1914, Chapman did a brief stint with the British army as a teen then turned to crime, becoming a professional safecracker. In 1939, he was arrested on the island of Jersey and sentenced ...read more
6 People You Didn’t Know Were WWII Spies
1. Morris “Moe” Berg: The major league baseball player turned secret agent. Once dubbed “the brainiest man in baseball,” Berg was born in New York City to Ukrainian immigrants and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He played shortstop for Princeton, graduating in 1923 with a degree ...read more
British Files Reveal Secrets of WWII Spies, Traitors
On the afternoon of December 7, 1942, a stunning 22-year-old blonde scanned Liverpool’s State Café and spotted her prey. The target matched the brief description given to her—26 years old, black moustache, sallow complexion and large brown eyes. The small moles on the left cheek ...read more
5 Famous WWII Covert Operations
1. Operation Mincemeat In April 1943, the waterlogged corpse of a British Royal Marine was found floating off the coast of Spain. The dead Brit had a suspicious-looking attaché case chained to his wrist, and this soon caught the attention of the Germans, who colluded with ...read more
Spies were deployed directly in battle by the Allies during the Second World War, though usually they were used as intelligence gathering operatives behind enemy lines or in enemy command centers and bases. The deployment of battlefield spies by the Allies continued during Third World War and its second iteration, providing Allied commanders with valuable information about plans and vulnerabilities of Soviet and Yuri bases. The spy was also used as a sabotage unit, unlike their predecessors. A spy would disguise himself as an enemy soldier to pass unnoticed to most other units and infiltrate buildings, sabotaging them or stealing enemy resources and technologies from them.
Spies were vital to the Allies' victory, especially during Operation: Dark Night, where they were a key element in sabotaging two nuclear missile silos in Soviet-controlled Poland.
The Soviets were not ignorant of the Allies' use of the spy and trained attack dogs to differentiate the scent of base personnel and if they noticed a strange smell among the Soviet men, they would attack and kill the Allied spy. The Allies did the same with their own dogs, in the case of being targets of rogue or mind-controlled spies. On the other hand, Yuri used his mind-control units and towers (including the psychic radar) to detect spies. For some reason, spies were not issued any weapons, even basic pistols or knives, so they had to overcome the enemy defenses completely by the use for stealth and discretion.
TURN to a historian
As the TURN: Washington’s Spies storyline hurls itself toward the end of the Revolutionary War, its writers seem determined to name-drop as many minor characters and events as they can in the show’s final episodes. (Perhaps they’re making up for lost time, as one of the most common viewer complaints about Season 1 was that it didn’t contain enough espionage or war-related action).
As a result, the Historical Timeline is bigger than ever — with ample room for the tsunami of names and dates that the last two episodes of the series are sure to generate. Even though there’s only two episodes left, there’s a lot of ground to cover if the writers plan to wrap up the stories of all the characters tied to the Culper Ring — so, who knows? The next Timeline update might be even larger than this one!
All “new” events — that is, all events referenced in Season 4 thus far — are in green text. Click on the image below to enlarge. You can also visit the blog’s Timeline page to see a chronological list of all events shown on the Timeline with plenty of links to further reading. As always, if there’s an event that is referenced in the show that you don’t see on the Timeline, let me know and I’ll add it in during the next update!
TURN Historical Timeline, version 4.1. Events mentioned in Season 4 are listed in green. Click to enlarge.
In general, there’s been less deviation from historical chronology in Season 4 of TURN than there has been in the previous three seasons. Some notable differences between TURN and the factual historical timeline include:
- Peggy and Benedict Arnold’s first child was born in March 1780, meaning that Peggy was nursing a six-month-old infant at the time Benedict fled West Point after his treason was discovered.
- Ann Bates was active as a spy (as a peddler in disguise) from June 1778 through May 1780 — a full year before Washington and Rochambeau began planning the Yorktown Campaign.
- For a nice recap of how TURN combined elements of both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Line mutinies, which were technically two separate events that took place in January 1780, read J.L. Bell’s review of Season 4 Episode 4, “Nightmare.”
- Just like poor Nathaniel Sackett, Judge Woodhull was killed off long before his time in the fictional universe of TURN. Happily, he not only survived the Revolutionary War, but lived long enough to see his son Abraham get married (which also happened after the war was over).
And with that, it’s off to the races as the penultimate episode airs later tonight (9:00pm Eastern time). See you on Twitter tonight, TURNcoats! And don’t worry — although the crazy summer schedule of Season 4 has thrown off the regular posting rhythm ’round these parts, the blog posts and updates will keep rolling out long after the August 12th finale, so stick around!
TURN Season 4 Premiere and Link Roundup
Greetings, TURNcoats! It’s finally here – June 17 th , 2017 – the premiere of the fourth and final season of TURN: Washington’s Spies! (It also happens to be the anniversary of the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, for all you devoted Revolutionary War fans.)
Tonight’s premiere will be a jam-packed two-hour event that deals, first and foremost, with the fallout of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal at West Point (the subject of Season 3’s dramatic finale). Like all the episodes before it, the premiere is sure to generate plenty of dubious historical claims to assess, dates to plot on the historical timeline, and questions to ask your friendly neighborhood historian(s). I’ll be live-tweeting tonight’s premiere, along with a whole bunch of die-hard fans as well as cast members. Follow @spycurious and the hashtag #TURNamc!
Season 4 Premiere Link Roundup:
If you didn’t have ten hours to devote to re-watching Season 3 of TURN, I’d recommend browsing through the library of individual episode reviews at Den of Geek, written by the always-thorough J. L. Bell of Boston 1775 fame.
USA Today also has a short article about the Season 4 premiere, which (unintentionally) underscores TURN’s gravely inaccurate portrayal of John Graves Simcoe by describing him as “a sociopath with a talent for military strategy who has a personal ax to grind with several of those rebel spies.” As we’ve discussed here in great detail over the past three years, Simcoe is, hands-down, one of the most completely inaccurate and misrepresented historical figures in the entire show. The real John Graves Simcoe, while a fearsome officer in battle, was nothing like the unhinged brute viewers see when they tune into TURN. In addition to our backlog of blog entries here, T. Cole Jones, professor of history at Purdue University, goes into even greater detail about TURN’s misrepresentation of Simcoe in this Common-place Journal article from 2015 which is a must-read for any fan interested in the accuracy of both TURN and the book that inspired it.
Ross Nedervelt at FIU is the latest history academic to pen a review of TURN: Washington’s Spies, this time at the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. While he is more charitable than most other historians have been towards the show, he does point out a number of pet peeves that we share here at the blog (e.g. glaring biographical inaccuracies, the depiction of Simcoe as a psychopath, Caleb Brewster’s anachronistic speech patterns, etc.).
What to make of TURN’s dramatically different Saturday evening time slot? In 2016, AMC “burned off” the final season of Hell on Wheels in the Saturday night timeslot and it looks like they’re giving TURN the same treatment this year – assuming in both cases that devoted fans will tune in to watch the show live, while everyone else will record and watch the episodes later. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of TURN’s audience numbers come from streaming services and DVR viewings – the live numbers for the show have taken a precipitous drop with each successive season. (For example, the Season 1 premiere had 2.12 million viewers Season 2 had 827,000 viewers Season 3 had 471,000. You can view live viewing numbers for each episode here.)
The upside is that the showrunners had long known that Season 4 would be TURN’s final season, so they were able to craft the entire season without worrying about potential numbers and ratings at all. At the same time, they’ve got quite a lot of ground to cover in a mere ten episodes.
Historically speaking, unlike the Continental Army at large, the Culper Spy Ring was incredibly active during the final years of the Revolutionary War, even after the surrender of British forces at Yorktown in 1781. Benjamin Tallmadge and the 2 nd Dragoons were especially vigilant, leading a number of dramatic shoreline raids across Long Island Sound against British and Loyalist-held strongholds. After the West Point fiasco, Benedict Arnold was quite eager to prove his loyalty to the British by, among other things, raiding and burning a number of prominent American towns – including New London, Connecticut, just a few miles south of his boyhood home of Norwich. (Pretty harsh, Benedict. No wonder New Londoners are still burning you in effigy well into the 21 st century!)
As a native Connectican with a professional interest in Connecticut history, imagine my excitement when on-set photos leaked of Owain Yeoman appearing to invade and burn a colonial city with a regiment of British regulars! Alas, according to this in-depth interview with showrunner Craig Silverstein at Entertainment Weekly, the photos likely depicted Arnold’s raid on Richmond, Virginia… not the Connecticut coast. (sigh.) Regardless of my parochial disappointment, the EW interview with Silverstein is incredibly thorough and well worth the read for any TURN fan eager to catch a glimpse of what Season 4 might contain.
How about that slick Season 4 artwork, TURNcoats? Have to admit – I’m a huge fan. (MUCH better than the bizarre, anachronistic, politically-driven marketing campaign of Season 3, which awkwardly tried to compare George Washington’s political views to those of Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders, and produced many a cringe-worthy gif. Remember that?) If year-over-year improvement is any indication, this season’s graphic artist should get a raise.
Finally, if you’re new to the TURN to a Historian blog: Welcome! Our Topic Index page is a great place to get started in regards to browsing all the historical topics we’ve covered on this blog thus far. If you have a specific question, fire away on the Ask a Question page. In the meantime, pull up a chair and enjoy the two-hour premiere. See you on the flip side!
TURN Historical Timeline updated for Season 3
Still reeling from this week’s Season 3 finale? How about a healthy dose of TURN-related history? We’ve updated the Historical Timeline with events mentioned and/or depicted in TURN Season 3. In a slight change from previous timeline updates, all the Season 3 events are labeled with dark green text, to more easily distinguish this seasons’ additions from the events mentioned in Seasons 1 and 2. While the timeline itself is embedded below, don’t forget to visit the full Historical Timeline page for a chronological listing of events, including external links to relevant history websites. Enjoy!
TURN Historical Timeline, version 3.1. Events mentioned in Season 3 are listed in green. Click to enlarge.
There’s no doubt that Season 3 of TURN began slowly, and with very few connections to actual historical events (see our previous post lamenting this fact). Evidently the writers were saving all of the spy action and historical precedent for the last few episodes, which drew heavily upon the well-documented Andre-Arnold affair of late 1780.
Most of the new timeline events deal with Benedict Arnold, since a large part of Season 3 revolved around the dramatic buildup of his infamous defection — and John Andre, who ends up paying the steepest price for Arnold’s actions. You’ll see Arnold’s court-martial, defection, and marriage to Peggy Shippen all plotted on the updated timeline.
Another event that was prominently (if very briefly) mentioned in the Season 3 finale was the execution of Nathan Hale — an event that was first mentioned in TURN Season 1 and has been on the Timeline ever since. For some bizarre reason, the show announces Hale’s execution date as October 22, 1776, instead of September 22 — a bizarre and seemingly unnecessary factual error that provides no benefit for the show’s storyline development. It’s no surprise that a Hollywood history show deviates from a 100% perfect chronological unfolding of historical events, of course — that’s why we made the Timeline in the first place! Some deviations, however, are much easier to explain than others.
Think there’s a historical event missing from the Timeline? Is there some ingenious reasoning I’ve missed behind TURN moving a semi-obscure historical date around by a mere 30 days? Leave a comment below (or tweet me, or email via the Ask page) and let me know!
TURN Season 3: All Quiet on the History Front?
Greetings, TURNcoats! How about a nice link roundup to compliment the first two episodes of Season 3?
Here we are, technically 1/5 of the way into Season 3, and things have been suspiciously quiet over here at the blog. Sure, we’ve had a blast live-tweeting every episode, but no new articles here at the blog. What gives?
The waiting is the hardest part.
Well, to be honest, there hasn’t been a whole lot of actual historical stuff happening in TURN Season 3 thus far. As a historian watching the show, there’s very little fact-based material to capitalize on, aside from a few name drops (e.g. Joseph Reed, Austin Roe) that don’t yet have enough context in the show to merit a full-length analysis. Nearly all of the first two episodes have revolved around made-up love triangles, fictional family feuds, and other interpersonal relationships that never happened.
Thankfully, we have covered most of those subjects in previous posts – so while we wait for some meatier historical topics to arrive in Season 3, here’s a quick and dirty link roundup for those of you trying to sort fact from fiction regarding all the personal drama in the TURNiverse:
- Abe and Anna: Never happened. (Although thus far in Season 3, their fictional affair seems to have cooled considerably.)
- Abe and Robert Rogers: An amusing (if bizarre) premise – but this also never happened. For more about the real Robert Rogers’ wartime escapades, check out Todd Braisted’s excellent summary here.
- Anna and Hewlett: Never happened. Although if you’re interested in the real Hewlett’s role in occupying the town of Setuaket, we’ve got you covered. We featured an article on the historical Hewlett in the middle of Season 2, right before TURN’s Hewlett dramatically veered away from the (until that time) realistic portrayal of his real-life counterpart.
If you’re a little confused from the “authentic” messaging you’ve been hearing from AMC staff regarding Hewlett – no, you’re not crazy! On Twitter and Reddit, Alexander Rose (who joined the show’s writing staff in Season 2) has repeatedly insisted that TURN’s Edmund Hewlett, the royalist commander of Setuaket during the Revolutionary War, has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the historical Richard Hewlett, the royalist commander of Setauket during the Revolutionary War. It is a total and complete coincidence that both men held the exact same station, at the same time and in the same place, and had the last name “Hewlett.”
- Blood-spattered John Graves Simcoe: Well, it looks like TURN’s “Psycho Simcoe” portrayal isn’t going anywhere this season! Only two episodes into the season and we’ve seen plenty of Simcoe-generated ketchup. If you’re only familiar with Simcoe through what you’ve seen in TURN, you may be in for a bit of a shock once you read a little bit about the real Queen’s Ranger commander by that name! Thankfully, Todd Braisted has not one but two excellent articles about the real Simcoe: one about Simcoe’s captivity at the hands of the Continental Army (as loosely portrayed in Season 1) and another about his tenure as leader of the Queen’s Rangers (TURN Season 2 and beyond). At the TURN roundtable on Common-place.org, guest author and Purdue University history professor T. Cole Jones also analyzes the many liberties TURN takes with John Graves Simcoe.
Well, I think that just about does it for tonight’s link roundup. Plenty of reading to re-visit while we wait for bigger and better spy-related history to materialize in TURN Season 3. Enjoy tonight’s new episode, TURNcoats – and if you’re watching live, don’t forget to join in the fun on Twitter and Facebook!
Introducing the “Topic Index” page (Just in time for the Season 3 Premiere!)
Greetings, TURNcoats! The premiere of Season 3 of “TURN: Washington’s Spies” is upon us — only a few hours away at the time of this posting. First, we’d like to welcome back blog readers both new and old! If you’re new to TURN, or just finishing re-watching Seasons 1 & 2 in anticipation of tonight’s premiere, you probably have a whole bunch of historical questions. We understand. In general, TURN takes a whole lot of liberties with the historical record — to the point where reading real history books won’t help you predict where the show is going to go!
Of course, this blog is here to help with your historical accuracy questions. And now we’re making it a little easier to find the answers you’re looking for with our new Topic Index page, which now happily occupies its own little tab in the header menu at the top of our website. Yes, you can always search the archives of the blog like you have before — by date of posting, by using the search bar, or via tag cloud (all located in the sidebar on the right side of every page). Still, we thought it would make things a little easier to have a general subject listing, especially for those who are new to the blog. Our most popular posts are sorted both by topic (e.g. Revolutionary War spycraft, slavery, material culture) and by character. Let us know what you think — and happy reading!
One of TURN’s promotional banners for Season 3. Overall, AMC’s promotions for TURN Season 3 have leaned heavily on references to the themes and candidates running in the current presidential election.
Finally: If you’re watching the premiere live tonight, don’t forget to join us for live-tweeting and Facebook commenting! We use the standard #TURNamc hashtag on Twitter to tag most of our posts. We already know from the Season 3 previews that Alexander Hamilton — who is definitely America’s trendiest Founding Father at the moment — will grace our televisions this season. But are the swirling rumors true about Martha Washington and Nathan Hale making cameos? And will any of them even remotely resemble their real-life historical counterparts? We can’t wait to find out. Stay tuned, and grab the popcorn! (Or some other tasty 18th century recipe, if you feel so inclined.)
Spy Chat in Fairfield: Revolutionary Spies in CT (Featuring Caleb Brewster and the Whaleboat Wars)
(Edit: No, “Caleb Brewster and the Whaleboat Wars” isn’t the name of a band. But it SHOULD be.)
Happy new year, TURNcoats! The Season 3 premiere is only a few weeks away. Ahh, such anticipation. So much writing and previous-episode-binge-watching to do, and so little time! (Not to mention: So many “Ask a Question” queries to answer! We’re working on the backlog. 491!)
Hopefully you’ve been keeping your new-episode-anticipation in check over the past several months. AMC’s social media hype machine is now in full swing, and we’re dedicating an upcoming post to dissecting all the new official TURN hashtags (e.g. #washington1778), trailers, promo pics, and more. And to all our followers who joined during our inter-season hiatus: Greetings and welcome! You can browse the blog archives for Season 1 and 2 using the calendar in the right sidebar. Have a question or suggestion for an upcoming blog topic? Let us know!
Here at the blog, we’re kick-starting the new season hype with a bang, at a TURN-themed event at the Fairfield Museum and History Center in Fairfield, CT!
I’ll be giving a general overview of TURN’s accuracies and inaccuracies and chatting about Connecticut’s central role in Revolutionary War espionage Robert Foley of Black Rock Historical Society will be talking about the REAL Caleb Brewster (who settled in the Fairfield/Bridgeport area after war’s end) and the Caleb Brewster Digital Humanities Project and Jackson Kuhl, author of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, will talk about the many coastal raids of Long Island Sound that took place during the war.
Fairfield Museum’s “Museum After Dark” series: No dress code (or wigs) required.
If you’re a TURN fan within driving distance of Fairfield County, CT, come join the fun! Plenty of the historical activities of the Culper Ring that (loosely) inspired TURN took place in or near Fairfield County, and Caleb Brewster’s a local hero ‘round these parts. (We’ve already touched upon the anachronistic language, mannerisms, and outfits of TURN’s highly-fictionalized Caleb Brewster, but there’s a whole lot more to the real-life historical figure than mere proper 18 th -century dress!)
This talk is part of Fairfield Museum’s “Museum After Dark” program, which features informal panel-type discussions, wine and cheese, and plenty of stimulating, informed conversation. Free for museum members $5 for non-members.
Interested? Meet us at gnu fiegh lh, jecljcimh 735. (Or you could simply check out the Museum After Dark event site for more details.)
New Scholarly Roundtable on Historical Accuracy vs. “Truth” in TURN
Academia finally joins the conversation about TURN! The newest issue of Common-place, an online scholarly journal of Early American life and culture, just launched yesterday — and it features a Roundtable discussion about historical accuracy in TV and film, using TURN: Washington’s Spies as a case study. Don’t let the “scholarly journal” part scare you off — the two main articles in this Roundtable are spirited and highly-readable commentary pieces that are must-reads for any serious fan — or critic — of TURN.
The newest issue of Common-place, Issue 15:3.5, features a Roundtable discussion on TURN: Washington’s Spies.
Back in February of this year, we mentioned a most unlikely meeting of the minds at the College of William & Mary, where TURN producers, writers, and cast members gathered onstage alongside William & Mary professors to discuss the role and importance of historical accuracy in film. Happily, footage of the entire 90 minute event was released on Youtube in May, with shorter highlights posted in a William & Mary press release (in case you don’t have an hour and a half to spare).
This new issue of Common-place continues that incredibly important conversation, featuring some names that might be familiar to readers of this blog. To kick things off, I wrote the brief introduction to the Roundtable, framing the debate’s central questions:
- Do the virtues of inaccurate historical films outweigh their vices?
- How much weight should accuracy have in our evaluation of historical film?
- Most importantly, are there historical narrative truths that supersede factual accuracy?
To devoted students of history, that last question might sound silly, if not completely ridiculous — after all, if facts don’t matter, then what does? But it’s a question that more and more people these days — including the writers and producers of TURN — are answering with a resounding “YES.”
The original poster for William & Mary’s “Television, History, & Revolution” event. Click to enlarge.
Jeremy Stoddard, a professor of education and film studies, gives TV and film writers the benefit of the doubt, arguing that fictional historical narratives DO have value (that is, beyond the monetary sort), referencing his own quest to learn more about Robert Rogers after watching the TURN series premiere. Stoddard, who attended the William & Mary event in person, gives readers a thoroughly detailed summary of the arguments given by TURN’s writers, producers, and other staff (e.g. the costumer) for why they deviated from the historical record in the way that they did. Read Jeremy Stoddard’s Roundtable article here.
On the other end of the debate, T. Cole Jones explains why he finds TURN’s blatant disregard for historical fact extremely problematic. Longtime readers of this blog are already familiar with Dr. Jones, who penned an excellent piece analyzing the treatment of prisoners of war in Season 1 of TURN. In his article for Common-place, Jones targets the show’s portrayal of John Graves Simcoe as a murderous sociopath and cartoonish British villain. He doesn’t mince words, arguing that TURN’s “artistic liberties” are so factually untrue they’d “undoubtedly expose the producers to a defamation of character suit were the people portrayed in the series still alive.” According to Jones, a number of TURN’s factual problems can be traced back to the show’s alleged source material: Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies. It’s a solemn reminder that not all history books are created equal. (We’ll be offering our own concurring opinion on this point sometime later in the TURN offseason.) Read Cole Jones’ Roundtable article here.
Like I said, these pieces are must-reads for any serious fan or critic of TURN — or of historical fiction in general. If you have a Disqus account, you can leave comments on the articles themselves, or join the conversation on Twitter.
Finally: It’s incredibly refreshing to see academics engaging this issue in a scholarly forum — and my thanks to the event organizers at William & Mary for providing an excellent icebreaker back in February. Far too many scholars of Early America have asked the same question voiced by certain TURN fans upon finding this blog: So what? Who cares if some TV show is historically accurate or not? Over the past two years, I’ve been stunned — though not entirely surprised — at how many academics have plugged their ears to the debates taking place over historical accuracy in TURN, often dismissing the subject as insufficiently intellectual or otherwise not worth their attention. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Era of the Galactic Republic [ edit | edit source ]
During the Battle of Christophsis, an investigation led by Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody revealed that troop movements had been relayed to Separatist forces, allowing the enemy to preemptively attack Republic strike teams. The traitor was identified as the clone trooper sergeant nicknamed "Slick" and was apprehended, though not before he significantly damaged the base's weapons depot. Ώ]
Following the loss of R2-D2 during the Battle of Bothawui, R3-S6 was assigned to Jedi General Anakin Skywalker as a replacement. ΐ] Unbeknownst to Skywalker and his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, R3-S6 was acting as a covert confederate agent, attempting to facilitate the sale of R2-D2 to General Grievous. Α]
Senator Padmé Amidala uncovers evidence of Rush Clovis aiding the Separatists.
Suspecting Senator Rush Clovis was aiding the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the Jedi Council recruited Senator Padmé Amidala to spy on him. Amidala accompanied Clovis to Cato Neimoidia where she recovered evidence of a large droid foundry on Geonosis. She was discovered and, following an attempted poisoning by Lott Dod, was extracted by Anakin Skywalker. Β]
Obi-Wan Kenobi undertook a secret operation disguised as Rako Hardeen, in an attempt to gain the trust of bounty hunters Cad Bane and Moralo Eval. Γ] Despite interference from Anakin Skywalker and Padawan Tano, Δ] Obi-Wan's mission was an eventual success, revealing a plot by Count Dooku to capture Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine. Ε]
Rush Clovis, now a defector from the Separatists, requested the help of Padmé Amidala to uncover the bankruptcy of the InterGalactic Banking Clan via the infiltration of the vault, a facility ordinarily off limits to outsiders. Ζ]
The Jedi Council granted Anakin Skywalker a seat on the Council, per the direction of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, because they wanted Skywalker to spy on the Chancellor and his activities, something that Skywalker felt was both treason and a violation of the Jedi Code. Η]
Era of the Galactic Empire [ edit | edit source ]
Ezra Bridger infiltrated the Academy for Young Imperials on the planet Lothal, disguised as an Imperial cadet, with the intention of acquiring an Imperial decoder containing the location of an exceptionally large kyber crystal. With the help of Zare Leonis, Bridger succeeded and escaped with another cadet, Jai Kell. Leonis opted to remain behind in order to learn more about the disappearance of his sister Dhara. ⎖] With the aid of his girlfriend, Merei Spanjaf, and the rebel cell known as the spectres, Leonis's efforts eventually came to fruition with the rescue of his sister, who had been absorbed into Project Harvester. ⎗] On several occasions, Bridger and the spectre cell dealt with an anonymous Rebel spy known by the codename "Fulcrum"—later revealed to be former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano. When Tano was presumed dead, Imperial Security Bureau agent Alexsandr Kallus took on the name, passing information to the Rebels, eventually defecting when his treason was discovered by Grand Admiral Thrawn. ⎘]
An operative infiltrates a secure Imperial vault.
Spies for the Rebel Alliance sent secret Death Star plans to Leia Organa on the Tantive IV following the Battle of Scarif. ⎙] The squad known as Rogue One, led by Rebel Alliance Intelligence Service agent Cassian Andor, infiltrated the Imperial security complex on Scarif and retrieved the plans, transmitting them to the Rebel fleet. The Alliance became aware of the Death Star project from Andor's informant Tivik, and from the defecting Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook, who passed Galen Erso's information about the station's weakness to Saw Gerrera. ⎚]
Following the destruction of Alderaan, the Empire made use of a human female by the name of Tula, who, under duress, manipulated her sister, Tace, into unwittingly revealing the whereabouts of Alderaanian survivors. ⎛]
On Nar Shaddaa, Grakkus the Hutt was apprehended, along with his captive, Luke Skywalker, owing to the efforts Sergeant Kreel, also known as Imperial agent 5241, ⎜] planted in the Hutt's Palace after Grakkus's collection of Jedi artifacts attracted the attention of the Empire. ⎝]
When the second Death Star was being constructed, the Alliance's Bothan spies discovered that the super weapon was being protected by a shield generator on a nearby forest moon called Endor. That valuable information came at the cost of many Bothan lives. ⎞]
Era of the Resistance and First Order [ edit | edit source ]
Thirty years after the Battle of Endor, the spy Kazuda Xiono undertook a mission on the Colossus platform for the Resistance to find out who on Castilon was helping the First Order build up its military forces. ⎟]
Bazine Netal was a mercenary, assassin and spy for the First Order.
Around the same time, the First Order used the junk boss Unkar Plutt to find BB-8. After Finn, Rey, and BB-8 escaped from Jakku, the First Order sent the Guavian Death Gang and the Kanjiklub as their spies to find the fugitives. Bala-Tik informed the Order that Han Solo had the droid on board the Millennium Falcon. ⎠]
The First Order then used mercenary Bazine Netal as one of its spies. When she was posing a girlfriend to Grummgar at Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana, [source?] Netal informed the Order that BB-8 was there. The Resistance also maintained a spy droid network, and one of its agents, GA-97, alerted the Resistance that BB-8 was at the castle. ⎠]
During a mission to Sinta Glacier Colony, Boolio gave Poe Dameron information that came from a high-ranking spy inside the First Order. The spy was revealed to be General Armitage Hux when he saved Dameron, Finn and Chewbacca from execution. Hux explained that he did not want the Resistance to win, he just wanted Kylo Ren to lose. Allegiant General Pryde killed Hux for his treachery. ⎡]
- These enemies are notoriously difficult to farm due to their near immunity for being cheesed(as no passive attack evasion except Ken Haki (Observation) can work on them and they can teleport behind you and take chunks out of your HP)( I reccomend Grinding Military Soldiers Since they are much easier)
Warning: These guys are like almost impossible to grind, Please keep grinding Mil Soldiers amd either gather them all with chop, or gather the ones who don't have Buso Haki.
*note these enemies are the best for leveling your Ken Haki (Observation) because they all have Buso Haki (Enhancement) so this makes them easy to get exp for your observation haki.
The History of American Spy Agencies
Question: How many intelligence agencies does the U.S. have? Let&rsquos see&hellipthere&rsquos the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and maybe&hellipthe DEA&mdashthat&rsquos four, right? Wrong. How many do we really have? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Just kidding. Correct answer: 17. Here&rsquos the history of the whole&mdashmostly secret&mdashbusiness.
In January 1790, President George Washington, in his first State of the Union address, asked Congress for funding for foreign intelligence gathering. The president wanted to ward off any foreign threats against the new nation by learning about them before they could come to fruition. Congress approved Washington&rsquos request and established the Contingent Fund of Foreign Intercourse, more commonly known as the Secret Service Fund. Amount of money appropriated for the fund: $40,000 per year, which the president could use at his own discretion with virtually no oversight. (That set the foundation for future problems between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government over intelligence matters&mdashproblems that have existed ever since.) Within just three years, the fund had grown to $1 million a year. Funding for U.S. intelligence operations today is about $70 billion a year. (That we know of, anyway.)
Here&rsquos a brief look at how we got here.
For the first 70 years of the country&rsquos existence, the Secret Service Fund was the closest thing the United States had to an &ldquointelligence agency&rdquo&mdashalthough it was just a fund, not an agency. And use of the fund quickly expanded from simple intelligence gathering to &hellipother areas. Some of the fund&rsquos more memorable uses during this time included:
(Image credit: Urantasin )
In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson used the fund in America&rsquos first-ever covert attempt to overthrow the head of a foreign government&mdashYusuf Karamanli, pasha of Tripoli, one of North Africa&rsquos Barbary pirate states. The operation, which involved U.S. Marines and Greek and Arab mercenaries, was intended to replace the pasha with his more U.S.-friendly brother. It failed.
Between 1810 and 1812, President James Madison used the fund to back covert paramilitary and propaganda operations aimed at taking over Spanish-controlled regions of Florida. Those operations failed as well. (Although the U.S. did acquire Florida just a few years later, in 1819.) Madison repeatedly lied to Congress about the operations in the course of these events.
In the early 1840s, President John Tyler and Secretary of State Daniel Webster used money from the Secret Service Fund in support of propaganda efforts that they hoped would help settle a U.S.-Canadian border dispute. They bribed newspaper editors and reporters to run stories favorable to the U.S. position, and this time America was successful. Only thing: the government was lobbying against Maine and in support of Great Britain.
The first formal intelligence agency in the United States was organized in early 1863, about two years into the Civil War, when the Union army established the Bureau of Military Information (BMI). Both sides had engaged in intelligence activities, especially the use of scouts and spies, from the start of the war to gather information on enemy troop movements. But those efforts were poorly organized and had inconsistent results.
The BMI changed all that. Under the leadership of its first chief, George H. Sharpe, a New York lawyer, linguist, diplomat, and volunteer army colonel, it became a true, almost modern, intelligence-gathering unit. The agency employed roughly 70 full-time scouts (both military and civilian), ran spy rings, intercepted mail and other communications, developed code-writing and code-breaking operations, and ran interrogation programs. Perhaps most important, Sharpe set up units to organize gathered information into promptly delivered reports for military commanders in the field, as situations unfolded around them.
Through such actions, the BMI is credited with improving the Union army&rsquos intelligence operations and in playing an important part in several key Civil War battle victories. The unit was, however, still a temporary wartime program and was disbanded at the war&rsquos end in 1865.
THE POSTWAR LULL
In the years after the Civil War, the attentions of war-weary Americans turned toward rebuilding the country and away from things involving the military. Result: the size of both the army and navy diminished drastically. (How drastically? In 1865 the U.S. Navy had a force of more than 700 ships and 50,000 sailors. By 1880 that number had decreased to about 50 operable ships, almost all of them Civil War relics, and 6,000 sailors. The army was similarly affected, and much of the remaining force was serving in the remote American West, engaged in the ongoing Indian wars.) Then, in the early 1880s, people began to notice a disturbing trend. While the size and state of the U.S. military had declined, other nations&mdashparticularly Great Britain, France, Russia, and Japan&mdashhad been building, modernizing, and improving their armies. This presented obvious potential dangers to the United States. What&rsquos worse, the U.S. government was unable to reliably track these developments because its intelligence-gathering operations were once again decentralized, unorganized, and impossible to make sense of.
But that was about to change.
ONI AND MID
In 1881 President James Garfield appointed William H. Hunt Secretary of the Navy, and the state of the U.S. Navy&mdashand U.S. intelligence operations&mdashwould never be the same. Hunt pushed Congress to provide funding for a long-term expansion and modernization program for the navy. The following year Hunt ordered the formation of what became known as the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)&mdashthe first permanent, official intelligence agency in American history. It was a far cry from agencies of the future: for the first 10 years of its existence, it averaged only 10 employees. (Two notable Naval Intelligence officers: former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, famous for his role in exposing the Watergate scandal.)
In 1885 the U.S. Army followed the navy&rsquos lead and formed its own intelligence unit&mdashthe Military Information Division (MID). And over the next few years the two branches developed the attaché system, wherein navy and army attachés were stationed in American embassies in foreign capitals, ostensibly as representatives of the U.S. military. But in reality, they were ONI or MID officers, and they were there to gather intelligence on the militaries of the nations in which they were stationed. The attaché system continues today.
Both the ONI and MID grew quite slowly over the next several years. Then, as the century drew to a close, everything changed again. What happened? War.
THE BOOM YEARS
In the 33 years between 1865 (the end of the Civil War) and 1898, the United States took part in just one military conflict outside North America. And that was the one-day overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893, which resulted in one wounded person. Over the next 50 years there were only about five years in which the U.S. was not involved in at least one conflict around the world. These conflicts included the Spanish-American War in the Caribbean and the Philippines (1898), the &ldquoBanana Wars&rdquo in Central America (1898&ndash1934), the Boxer Rebellion in China (1899&ndash1901), and World War I (1917&ndash1918) and World War II (1941&ndash1945) in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and other locations.
Along with more wars and new (and unknown) enemies came a greater need for intelligence gathering. As U.S. military operations expanded, the size and scope of U.S. intelligence agencies expanded, too. Not only that&mdashthey aimed inward, with the founding of the nation&rsquos first domestic intelligence agencies.
The turn of the 20th century was when the modern intelligence agency came into being. Here&rsquos what their chief duties were and still are.
Collection: The agency&rsquos first job is the collection of intelligence&mdashinformation about an enemy or any information deemed useful to the country&rsquos security. There are many different kinds of intelligence, including communications intelligence (COMINT), meaning information gleaned from communications, such as through phone wiretaps or intercepted mail, and human intelligence (HUMINT), meaning information gathered from human sources, such as captured enemy soldiers, double agents, or simply informants.
Analysis: The process through which &ldquoraw&rdquo intelligence is studied and organized or developed into usable form. (Code-breaking falls under the duties of intelligence analysts.)
Counterintelligence: Any activity designed to protect against the intelligence operations of foreign governments, including spying, covert actions, assassination attempts, and more. (It can also mean actions to protect against domestic threats: the FBI, for example, has its own counterintelligence unit.)
Covert Action: Secret activity performed in a way that prevents it from being traced back to the government that ordered it. There are several types, such as political, economic, propaganda, and paramilitary.
Espionage: Spying and all it entails, including the use of secret agents, the development of foreign agents, and the development and use of spy gadgetry (as popularized in James Bond movies), all with the express purpose of collecting intelligence.
In the early 20th century, U.S. intelligence activity grew enormously, and by the end of World War II the government employed tens of thousands of people across numerous organizations. Key events from this period:
In 1908 the Bureau of Investigation&mdashprecursor to the FBI&mdashwas formed as a part of the Justice Department. Created as a federal criminal investigation unit, it was soon doubling as a domestic intelligence agency, charged with gathering intelligence (and spying) on Americans.
In 1919 the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Army combined to form what became known as the Black Chamber&mdasha code-breaking unit&hellip but not for the military. The Black Chamber broke codes used in the diplomatic cables of foreign nations. It was the first peacetime, nonmilitary intelligence agency in U.S. history. It was closed down in 1929 but is seen today as the precursor to the NSA&mdashthe National Security Agency&mdashwhich was formed in 1952.
In 1942 the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed as a unified intelligence service for all the branches of the U.S. armed forces during World War II. By war&rsquos end, the OSS employed more than 24,000 people.
Unlike what happened at the end of previous wars, intelligence agencies did not shrink at the end of World War II. The U.S. immediately found itself enmeshed in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, which included the Korean War (1950&ndash1953) and the Vietnam War (1955&ndash1975).
Result: the size and the scope of American intelligence agencies (along with those of the Soviet Union and other nations) expanded again. Most significantly, the OSS was broken into two different agencies&mdashthe Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which served the State Department and still exists today, founded in 1945, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), founded in 1947.
This era was also marked by increasing&mdashand, critics claim, excessive&mdashsecrecy around anything having to do with these agencies. One such agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, was created in 1960 but wasn&rsquot officially acknowledged as even existing until 1992.
THE SCANDAL ERA
It&rsquos important to note that even at this time, the president still had control of U.S. intelligence activities. Congress, although granted its first nominal oversight duties upon the creation of the CIA in 1947, had only one real function in regard to America&rsquos intelligence agencies: signing off on the secret budgets that funded them. This led to problems.
Starting in the early 1970s, the intelligence agencies were rocked by a series of revelations about how they&rsquod abused their power. It was reported that the FBI had conducted widespread illegal spying and infiltration operations against domestic political organizations since the 1950s that the NSA had spied on civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and boxer Muhammad Ali and that the CIA had been secretly opening and reading Americans&rsquo mail on a massive scale and on a regular basis since the 1950s. The reports also revealed that the CIA had taken part in the violent overthrows of foreign governments and had assassinated or attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.
The fallout from the revelations led to a string of congressional investigations and the passage of several laws restricting the actions of intelligence agencies. In the mid-1970s, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate formed permanent committees dedicated to the oversight of intelligence activities. This was the first time in the nation&rsquos 200-year history that Congress got a real foothold in the American intelligence world.
TO THE PRESENT
But that didn&rsquot slow down the agencies. From the 1970s onward, they continued to grow, both in size and number, despite continued tension with Congress. (The CIA&rsquos torture program under President George W. Bush and domestic surveillance practices under Presidents Bush and Obama are just a few of the latest of such controversies.)
Today there are 17 separate U.S. intelligence agencies, all united under one umbrella organization called the U.S. Intelligence Community, or IC for short. They are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence, who reports directly to the president. The 17 agencies include several you&rsquove probably never heard of, such as the CGI&mdashCoast Guard Intelligence (they&rsquove been around since 1915 and have intelligence duties revolving around the nation&rsquos maritime systems) the previously mentioned NRO&mdashthe National Reconnaissance Office (their work involves the use of spy satellites) and the United States Cyber Command, or USCYBERCOM (formed in 2009 to handle cyberspace security issues, such as protecting against hacking by foreign governments).
FACTS AND FIGURES
Among the many thousands of pieces of information leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013: the so-called Black Budget&mdashthe top-secret budget detailing the funds allocated to U.S. intelligence agencies. After consultations with government officials about what should remain secret for national security reasons, parts of it were published in newspapers. It was the first time the budget had been revealed to the public.
Black Budget for 2013: $52.6 billion. The CIA got the largest share with $14.7 billion. Second: the NSA, with $10.8 billion. The Black Budget numbers don&rsquot include the budget for military intelligence agencies, though&mdashthey get around $23 billion annually, which brings the total to about $75 billion. (Sound like a lot? It is&hellipbut in 2010, the total was closer to $80 billion.)
The leaked budget also revealed the number of people employed by U.S. intelligence agencies that year: about 107,000.
The number of CIA agents killed in the line of duty in history: 111. They are honored at the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, each with a single star. The names of many of the agents are public, while some remain classified. (More than 30 of those deaths are just since 2001.) The NSA has a similar memorial at its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, honoring the lives of both military and civilian code-breakers killed in the line of duty over the years. Number killed: 173.
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John&rsquos Factastic Bathroom Reader. The 28th volume of the series is chock-full of fascinating stories and facts, and comes in both the Kindle version and paper with a classy cloth cover.
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!
Why Spy? Theater
Discover the stories about when intelligence has helped shaped the world in which we live, and explore how spy agencies respond to threats all nations face. Issues addressed: How to strike the right balance between security and freedom, and between secrecy and openness?
Spying That Launched A Nation
Meet America’s first spymaster…George Washington and uncover how he used the power of espionage to outsmart and outmaneuver and win the Revolution .
Spying in WWII
From OSS to CIA - Meet the spies, saboteurs, commandos, propagandists, and analysts who aided in Allied efforts on and off the battlefield.
This exhibit explores the tensions between the secrecy necessary for spy agencies to operate and the openness necessary for effective democracy. The stories featured cover the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as well as to 21st century leaker Edward Snowden.
Cyber: The New Battlefield
From propaganda to sabotage, economic interference to political meddling, the brave new world of cyber operations let intelligence agencies gather information or disrupt vital systems swiftly, safely, and remotely.
In 1941 and 2001, attacks on the US caught leaders off guard. Japan’s strike at Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terror attacks. This exhibit compares the two events and illustrate some of the many challenges intelligence analysts face in delivering clear warnings that leaders can act on—and show the consequences of getting it wrong.
License to Thrill
Few people live the life of a spy—leaving a gap in the public’s understanding of real intelligence work that has been filled by popular culture for almost a hundred years. Here, visitors can see a sample of spy toys and games from past to present and hear intelligence officers comment on the reality and fiction in spy movies.
Who Would Have Guessed?
You may know their names—but you probably don’t know that they were also spies. This exhibit reveals the unexpected spy stories of people from the Civil War (such as Harriet Tubman), WWII (such as Moe Berg), the Cold War (such as Harpo Marx), and today.
American Civil War
As you might imagine, there were lots of spies during the Civil War. There were people who lived in the North who wanted the South to win and people in the South who wanted the North to win. This made it easy for both sides to recruit spies.
Spies passed on all sorts of information regarding the armies of the enemy. They told of troop movements, numbers of soldiers, and the conditions of the enemy army. This type of information could make the difference between winning and losing a battle. It allowed generals to know when and where to attack, or if they should retreat.
What happened if a spy was caught?
Spies were treated differently than captured soldiers. Spying was especially dangerous because they were usually executed if they were caught.
At the start of the war, the Union didn't have a very organized spy network. Although they had a lot of spies, they were usually sent out by individual generals or leaders in the government. The information wasn't communicated very well or passed on to the people who really needed it. The Union had a distinct advantage in the war as they gained a significant amount of military intelligence from slaves and former slaves.
As the war continued, the lead generals of the North had a spymaster who would organize and gather the information from the spy network. Some of the most famous Union spymasters included Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, and George H. Sharpe.
- Sarah Edmonds - Sarah Edmonds was a master of disguise even before she became a spy for the Union. She disguised herself as a man and entered the Union army. While serving in the army she volunteered to become a spy. As a spy she used all sorts of unique disguises, pretending to be all sorts of different people from an Irish woman to a black man.
- Philip Henson - Henson worked as both a scout and a spy for the Union. Henson managed to get Confederate generals to confide in him, giving him information that helped General Ulysses Grant win several battles including the Battle of Vicksburg. Henson was finally captured by the Confederates, but managed to escape near the end of the war.
- Elizabeth Van Lew - Van Lew ran one of the Union's most effective spy rings out of her house near the Confederate capital city of Richmond, Virginia. She used various methods to pass secret messages to the Union including hiding them inside of baked bread, eggshells, and inside the sole of a boot.
- Timothy Webster - Webster gained the trust of Confederate officials and passed on valuable documents to the Union. However, he became sick and his secret identity got out to the Confederates. They captured him and had him executed. He was the first spy to be executed during the Civil War.
Confederate Spy Networks
The Confederate spy networks were more organized than those of the North. They mostly used people who worked for the army or the government in the North, but who secretly wanted the South to win. They passed information across the border using a system called the "secret line."
Accountants and spies: The secret history of Deloitte's espionage practice
As 2016 comes to a close, the consulting firm Deloitte is busy hiring employees in the Washington area — listing a total of 392 jobs open in the region with "federal" in the job description.
According to its website, the firm is looking to hire a federal contracts manager, a federal cybersecurity consultant and is even advertising for military officers with top-secret government clearances.
What none of the people applying for those jobs know — and few of the people doing the hiring know, either — is the secret history of Deloitte's robust federal practice.
It's a story that goes back a decade, and has never before been told publicly. It involves several veteran CIA officers, an undercover mission and a huge haul of extremely valuable intelligence. The saga shows just how intense the competition between major accounting firms is, and just how willing they can be to engage in tactics that don't exactly mesh with their buttoned-down corporate image.
It's a classic tale of corporate espionage.
Flash back 10 years. At the time, Deloitte was not the major player in federal consulting it is today. "Deloitte had fits and starts in trying to do the federal business," recalls a former Deloitte partner who asked not to be named. "In ✅ and ✆, Deloitte was doing maybe $300 million a year in revenue and had maybe 1,000 people." The former partner says the firm had a lofty internal goal of getting its federal business to the billion-dollar level. "They wanted to do an acquisition, but they weren't sure which one."
Then, in early 2007, a phone rang inside Deloitte. On the line was a source, passing on some valuable information. BearingPoint, the struggling consulting firm, had just called an emergency meeting. BearingPoint partners from around the world would be coming to a hastily scheduled session at the convention center in Orlando, Florida. The source didn't know why the meeting was scheduled. It was a complete mystery. But Deloitte's managers were prepared to go to unusual lengths to unravel it.
Deloitte had an internal team to call on in just such a moment. Although its name changed over time, the group was generally known as the competitive intelligence unit, and it was led by a trim former CIA officer with piercing eyes named Gordon "Gordy" Welch. His number two was John Shumadine, who had served as an economist for the CIA and, like his boss Welch, was an Army veteran. Shumadine, according to his LinkedIn profile, had served as a military intelligence analyst scrutinizing Iraqi Scud missiles and special-forces operations. Welch said he had been in leadership roles in the 82nd Airborne Division and served as an instructor at the Army's Ranger school. Neither Welch nor Shumadine commented for this article.
No one interviewed for this article claimed that anyone at Deloitte did anything illegal.
In a first for the show, this week’s guest is a former spy chief from the world’s largest democracy. Vikram Sood was the Director of India's Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). Andrew and Vikram talk Pakistan, China, the United States, human capital, intelligence reform and the power of narratives: because spies can be sensitive souls too.
Where to begin. Marty was described to me as, “the greatest analyst we ever had (truthfully),” would I be interested in speaking to him? Guess the answer!? The result, a SpyCast with a CIA analytic legend. For 40 years Marty analyzed intelligence for US foreign policymakers, trained a whole generation of analysts, and mentored figures who would go on to have senior leadership positions within American intelligence, such as former Acting and Deputy Director of CIA Mike Morrell. In this episode we talk China, Asia, making sense of the world, and a whole host of topical issues.