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An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary…
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An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James…

by Andro Linklater

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16330112,821 (3.8)20
Patriot, traitor, general, spy: James Wilkinson was a consummate contradiction. Brilliant and precocious, at age twenty he was both the youngest general in the revolutionary Continental Army, and privy to the Conway cabal to oust Washington from command. He was Benedict Arnold's aide, but the first to reveal Arnold's treachery. By 38, he was the senior general in the United States army--and had turned traitor himself. Wilkinson's audacious career in the Spanish secret service while in command of American forces is all the more remarkable because it was anything but hidden. Though he betrayed America's strategic secrets and sought to keep the new country from expanding beyond the Mississippi, four presidents turned a blind eye to his treachery--gambling that Wilkinson would never use the army to overthrow our nascent democracy. The crucial test came in 1806, when Wilkinson turned the army against Aaron Burr and foiled his conspiracy to break up the Union.--From publisher description.… (more)
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A well researched, comprehensive account of the fascinating life of little known James Wilkinson. In retrospect, it is difficult to understand why Mr. Wilkinson’s biography is not better known-he fought in the American Revolution, knew the first four presidents, participated in the Indian wars, the expansion of the nascent American frontier and War of 1812, and also found time to conspire with imperial Spain against the United States.

Unfortunately, the author’s writing style, and his unnecessary attention to minutia, often makes the reading somewhat tedious. ( )
  la2bkk | May 11, 2019 |
I came across this while on vacation and looking for a book as I read all I brought, and this book did not disappoint. A fairly fast read, it had me hooked on a subject and era I enjoy, but I never knew this character existed. The book tied into about 7 books I have also read, which made it that much more interesting. A great part of American History I didn't know much about until now, glad I found this. ( )
  MichaelGlenn | Sep 6, 2018 |
Perhaps Benedict Arnold was not the most nefarious of traitors in American history after all. Though he is still the most infamous.

It is fascinating to think that a man could become the highest ranking Army/military officer in the nation and be a spy for another country at the same time. And get away with it for many years.

Well written and researched book about a man I knew little about. He talks about not just the facts but also discusses what could have motivated Gen Wilkinson to treason and his choices. Very interesting view into the early American political life as we see sides of many famous people that I've read little of.

He served under four presidents and had a relationship with each one. Oddly enough Jefferson was his biggest supporter and Madison his greatest enemy of the four. Not only is a different side of famous people seen here but also the fragility of the nation in our first years is clear. Now we look back at our past with the certainty of knowing things turned out the way they did but the people living then did not live with confidence that America would be a successful nation. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Received the book as part of LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway. A thorough, even exhaustive, biography of a treasonous "patriot", who believed "that the image of respectability excused the reality of betrayal." I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the significant events of the revolution and newly formed United States in which Wilkinson participated. Unfortunately, the details overwhelmed me about the time Wilkinson moved to Kentucky and, knowing his duplicity, I wasn't as interested in the remaining intricacies of his life.
  jonasreads | Sep 22, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A very entertaining look at a fascinating and missing chapter of American history. The other reviewers are right about the tediousness of it -- after a strong opening chapter, the writing failed to compel me to keep reading. A book best browsed through. Three stars for a great subject. ( )
  gwalklin | Nov 9, 2010 |
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