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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

American Espionage Was Born in the Dark Taverns of Philadelphia

00:00 37:10
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Philadelphia is often referred to as the birthplace of a nation, but it would also be fair to say that it was the birthplace of American espionage.

Today’s guests, Keith Melton and Robert Wallace, author of Spy Sites of Philadelphia, discuss the city’s secret history from the nation’s founding to the present.

Throughout the Revolutionary War, Patriot leaders included intelligence operations as a crucial element of the new government. George Washington was America’s first spymaster, deploying his agents to overcome the advantages of the British force. After the war, spy activity centered around the city’s port facilities and manufacturing plants. As political, diplomatic, and economic activity shifted from Philadelphia to New York and Washington, DC in the second half of the 20th century, the city remained a target first for Chinese and Soviet industrial spying and, later, for Islamic jihadist recruitment operations.

Spies in Philadelphia have been putting their lives at risk to uncover enemy secrets and undertake deadly missions of disruption and sabotage for over two centuries.
April 27, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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