The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington

THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF THE TRAITOR GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Novel. By Charles Rosenberg. Hanover Square Press. 421 pages. $26.99.

This novel definitely grabs your attention as soon as you lay eyes on the cover with its screaming cognitive dissonance. The juxtaposition of “traitor” with that paragon of patriotism jars one’s senses. Yet, it’s true; Washington was a British citizen waging war against the British Army. In this alternative history Rosenberg asks a big "what if," along with a subsequent string of little ones.

Jeremiah Black is a colonel in the British Army with a reputation for the successful completion of high-stress missions. He is sent by the prime minister, in a small sloop-of-war, to America to capture/arrest/kidnap George Washington and bring him back to England to stand trial for high treason. That he succeeds guarantees the brisk pace of the tale, but there are places with a deus ex machina flavor to them.

"The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington" is a fun, easy and quick read, and thought-provoking. Washington, of course, impresses Black, his jailers and his lawyers with his unwavering allegiance to the cause of liberty, even in the face of a traitor’s gruesome execution. Rosenberg did not trample on historical details as he wove together an exciting narrative.

So, if you would like an entertaining read to take to the beach, this might be the one. Besides, it is a pleasure to have the word “Washington” invoke the person instead of the place.

Reviewer Frank L. Cloutier is a retired engineer currently living in Hanahan.