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AMC spies new series in Revolutionary War-era 'Turn'

7:16 PM, Jan 11, 2014   |    comments
(Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3, AMC)
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USA TODAY - In its search for a series to replace Mad Men and Breaking Bad, AMC is turning to the American Revolution.

Based on Alexander Rose's non-fiction book Washington's Spies, Turn follows a small group of farmers living in British-occupied Long Island who form a remarkably successful spy ring to provide information to George Washington. Premiering April 6, the series stars Billy Elliot's Jamie Bell as one of Washington's real-life spies, Abraham Woodhull.

Like many of the colonists, Bell is British - which may make you wonder what his teachers back in the United Kingdom taught him about the American Revolution.TCA PRESS TOUR CENTRAL: All the news from the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour

"They taught us that we lost. It isn't really taught in schools. I don't think it's something that still to this day we look upon fondly."

If it's any comfort to Bell, this isn't a story Rose was taught, either. He was looking for a subject for a book and having rejected Benedict Arnold, he began to wonder whether there were any books about spies on the American side. To his surprise, there weren't.

"It was such an obvious subject, I figured this must have been covered a billion times or more...I found out there was this vast untapped reservoir of espionage history."

The key, he says, was discovering the enormous cache of correspondence between
Washington and his spies. "At that point I said OK - this is what it's going to be."

Despite the efforts of those spies, by the way, Rose's take is less that we won than that the British lost - or more precisely, quit.

"They grew bored with the war. It became too expensive, mostly because Washington was very good at drawing out the war....They were in the empire business, not the colony business."



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