One Dead Spy

One Dead Spy
Written by Nathan Hale

Publisher’s Summary:
Retells, in graphic novel format, the history of the author’s namesake, an officer and spy for the American rebels during the Revolutionary War, revealing facts about Nathan Hale’s earlier days at Yale and his unlucky experiences as a military officer.

Primary Source Pairing:
Manuscripts are visual playgrounds for students doing primary source analysis. The manuscript is not only interesting to look at, but it is also a type of puzzle that begs to be solved. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a copy of a British orderly book where Nathan Hale’s execution was recorded. Consider showing this manuscript to students before book talking or discussing the book as a way to generate excitement about the book while also building background knowledge.

The caption included with the manuscript reads: “Photograph of the page from a British orderly book recording the execution of Nathan Hale as a spy on September 22, 1776.”

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • How much of the text can you read? What does it say?
  • What do you see that looks strange or unfamiliar?
  • How are the words arranged?
  • What do you notice about the page the writing appears on?
  • What do you think was happening when it was created?
  • What tools and materials were used to create it?
  •  What can you learn from examining this?
  • If someone created something like this today, what would be different?
  • What would be the same?
  • Make a connection between what you read in the manuscript and what you read in the book One Dead Spy.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Nathan Hale execution record: