From the early days of the Revolution, James Wilkinson was an important figure in American history. As a general in the Army of the United States, he was a friend of Presidents, a companion of conspirators, a master of intrigue, and a confederate of alien and domestic plotters. Few men had more intimate knowledge of the inhabited stretches of the American continent. He knew the slating streets of Montreal and was familiar with the tangled wilderness that covered the Champlain valley. In the old Northwest he traveled on the waters of the Great Lakes, wrangled with the British in Detroit, and ate boiled puppy with the savages along the Ohio. In Kentucky, he peddled merchandise and delivered pioneer women of their children. Again and again he voyaged up and down the Mississippi River and the Atlantic seacoast with soldiers, traders, and hardy adventures; in New Orleans and Philadelphia tavern underlings came to know his thick-set, uniformed figure, always busy, always alert, and often sinister. He visited Havana on mysterious missions, ran the gauntlet of grasping customhouse officials at Vera Cruz, and dined with Mexican patriots in the "Halls of Montezumas." Whether enjoying the proceeds of government pay-checks honestly earned or silver pesos wheedled from gullible Spanish officials, he set the pattern for lavish spending and engaging hospitality. Affable and gregarious, he craved the applause of his fellow-men; for their women he had an ample store of hard-handed compliments. He altered his political creed to suit the exigencies of the moment, but was always the partisan, writing profusely and talking without end. As a brilliant Revolutionary staff officer, a peace-time frontier commander, and an aging general in the War of 1812, he was an opportunist. He sought immediate reward, preferably in hard cash. Initiative he had, extreme audacity, and a relentless purpose. His zeal for new enterprises never flagged until a Mexican churchyard received his bones in 1825. Widely scattered archives have furnished the data for this interesting book on a remarkable soldier. It has a freshness that will make strong appeal to lovers of biography. In it they will find, at last, a key to the jigsaw puzzle of Wilkinson's paradoxical career -- Book jacket.