Customer Reviews for

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

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Thought Provoking

    In a wonderfully written and carefully researched work, Andro Linklater reveals not only the convoluted and fascinating life of James Wilkinson but also the fragile nature of the origins of the United States. Exploring Wilkinson's desperate need for personal recognition, his frequent financial failures, and his powerful affect on those who knew or met him, Linklater reveals what is not often explored of the very tenuous nature of the early years of the United States, first under the Articles of Confederation and then the Constitution. He shows how Wilkinson becomes a pivotal figure in holding onto the western territories and keeping them from seceding from the newly formed nation and his role in opening up the vital Mississippi to the settlers of the west. We also see the games played by Wilkinson with his Spanish handlers as their "Agent 13" and the sitting presidents of the United States. A wonderfully written and gripping exploration of a fascinating man and a revealing look at how fortunate the United States was to survive its first half century intact.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010

    Only as Interesting as the Subject

    AN ARTIST IN TREASON by Andro Linklater

    A very readable biography of a little-known character in American history, General James Wilkinson. This book would perhaps be especially interesting to Revolutionary War buffs. Not all the early characters in that time were heroic. Wilkinson was a spy, crook, and scoundrel, as well as a good general and family man.
    Always searching for an easy way to wealth and power, Wilkinson betrayed his country by becoming a spy for Spain who at the time was claiming the territory west of the thirteen colonies. No one knew if the new little country with such diverse states could ever hang together and become one under one President. Wilkinson bet on the failure of the United States, but in the end he was the failure. His adventures and misadventures read quickly and bring new pictures of the struggle the Founders faced. It is amazing that with scoundrels like Wilkinson, the United States ever succeeded at all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Study in Treason

    General James Wilkinson holds an unusual place in American History. He was commissioned a captain in September of 1775. He rose from there to become the senior officer of the United States Army, a position that he held twice. Documents later came to light that showed him to have been a paid agent of Spain throughout most of this period.

    Andro Linklater in his book "An Artist in Treason" gives a careful account of the life of James Wilkinson. He traces his relations both with the US Government and the American branch of the Spanish intelligence service. The book is detailed and interesting.

    If there is a lack to this work it lies in the area of speculation. The author does not discuss what General Wilkinson's motives might have been. He notes his lifelong problem with finances and his need for money. But after reading this excellent book and others that have referred to General Wilkinson I wonder if greed was all of it.

    It is often said that people turn their coat for Money, Ideology, Coercion, or Ego. The classic MICE of the great game. I wonder after reading this book how much ego and excitement fed into General Wilkinson's action. His actions throughout did no harm to the US and helped Spain little. It did however serve to keep him at the center of knowledge and action. He also made some ready cash. As Oliver North said it was a neat idea.

    All in all, an excellent work well worth a read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    My DAD

    My dad enjoyed this book allot

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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