Cover Image: The Lion And The Fox

The Lion And The Fox

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Member Reviews

Take an American diplomat who feels directed by God to stop slavery and a Confederate operative with a design to break the North's maritime blockade. Put them in Liverpool England as they work to outsmart each other and there's a story to be told. Alexander Rose takes this story and provides an enjoyable and highly readable book about one aspect of the Civil War far removed from the battlefield.  There is plenty of explanation of the politics involved on all sides, including the British. And there are lots of very colorful characters,  disappointments and some very daring action. It's and entertaining and educational read.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Mariner Books for an advanced copy of this history book focused on the espionage war between the North and the South during The Civil War. 

Covert wars between governments at war and at peace is little understand by people. Most think of espionage as slick James Bond types with numerous gadgets or burly bearded covert operators who loot, shoot and scoot in dangerous countries all over the world. Media bares some responsibility, as how can you have streaming shows with hot leads in exotic lands, without a modicum of hyperbole. Governments don't mind this image easier as it is easier to ask for government funding for proactive forces, rather than point out most spying is based on the boring task of gathering information, listening to people talk, paying the right people, and having lawyers ready to swoop in when they can. This was the state of play between the North and the South during the American Civil War in a battlefield not much discussed, Liverpool, England. In The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy, historian, writer and television producer Alexander Rose tells of this important battle and how it might have effected the war effort for both sides if the results had been different. 

Liverpool, England was one of the busiest, most up-to-date and yet dingy shipping cities on Earth. A crowded area, filled with seafarers, ex-sailors, public houses and houses of ill repute, Liverpool was home to many who made fortunes at sea, financed these fortunes  and built the ships that made them. In 1861 two Americans, one a diplomat from the North, the second proud son of the South landed in the city with different agendas, but fated to vie against each other. Thomas Dudley was a Quaker, sent to England to work with the American delegation, and soon found himself in a shadow world that despite a few setbacks found that he was quite good at. James Bulloch was a mariner by trade who made his way to Liverpool on an important mission for the South. Build a fleet of ships that could evade the Northern blockade of Southern ports, and if possible ships that could destroy the ad hoc Navy the Union had brought together. Both men would scheme, spy, pay people, lie, cheat, deceive, sue, counter sue and use all their skills to block their respective war efforts, efforts that could change the way was going for both sides. 

I'm not much a fan of Civil War history, but I do love nautical history, and thought this might be interesting. I am so glad I tried this as this is fascinating history, with writing that really carries the reader and once it starts moving never really slows down. Rose is a very good writer. The book is well sourced and full of interesting facts about sailing, ships and shipbuilding, politics, and even life in Liverpool. The book does a very good job describing what espionage really is, working with people you might not trust, trying to get information on people that are your enemies, who might sell you out just as quick. Rose has a skill making life at sea, as interesting as life in a courtroom, or a coffeehouse listening to chatter. What never ceases to amaze me is how quickly people just throw away scruples, or even laws at just a little bit of lucre. And also how quickly after the war both sides had a vested interest in not prosecuting anyone, which sounds very familiar. One of the better histories I have read in quite a while, especially dealing with the Civil War.

Recommended for fans of nautical history, and for fans of both the Civil War and espionage. A very well written account of spies, diplomats, curs, tars and the people who make money no matter who wins or loses.
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because of the formating of the PDF I am unable to read this on a Nook as the print size is not scalable.  Please consider changing the formating of your advanced reader copies so users can access the materials!
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Tough to get into this one, interesting story but not for the general public. Without some background knowledge as well as a general interest in this topic it would be a slog to get through.
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Sometimes a book's plot is a winner no matter who the author is. The story is so amazing and exciting that it can't help but be a winner. This is not one of those books. The Lion and the Fox could be an extremely boring slog in the wrong hands, but luckily Alexander Rose knows how to write an engaging narrative.

Centered on two men in Liverpool, England during the Civil War, The Lion and the Fox follows the story of how these two men face off. One is trying to create a formidable Confederate navy while the other tries to stop him. Their main method of battle: paperwork. Yes, paperwork. This is ostensibly a game of cat and mouse but not of the James Bond ilk. If that sounds like a letdown, don't worry, Alexander Rose makes this a page turner somehow. I flew through the book because even though the final outcome was preordained, the story of these two men was not. 

(This book was provided to me as an advance copy by Netgalley and Mariner Books. The full review will be posted to HistoryNerdsUnited.com on 12/1/2022.)
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