The amazing true story of the national paranoia that turned US citizens into volunteer detectives.
Two weeks before the U.S. entered World War I, a Chicago advertising executive visited the Department of Justice with a proposal - organize the country’s businessmen into a secret force of volunteer agents to ferret out and investigate enemy activities within the United States. The country, overcome by a wave of patriotic fervor, had also become gripped with fear and uncertainty of the influx of immigrants from the very countries with which the country was now at war.
The idea received quick approval and caught on like wildfire. Soon thousands of volunteers in every major industry, trade, and profession were on the alert nationwide, maintaining surveillance and investigating cases for the Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation. They would grow to become 250,000 strong.
Written as a real-life adventure story, The League reveals how the organization began, the manner in which it operated, and the varied missions that it performed on behalf of the U.S. government. It is an extraordinary chapter in American history, when almost any citizen could receive official credentials as a volunteer investigator. From a running gun battle on the streets of Philadelphia, to the seizure of a disguised German commerce raider on the high seas, to the hunt for the radical bomber that attacked the Federal Building in Chicago, The League is a fascinating true story that will not soon be forgotten.
Bill Mills chronicles the formation of the American Protective League, a group of ordinary American citizens who organized to prevent espionage during World War I. This true story is presented with great narrative verve and an almost pulpy style that is augmented by Eric Martin's vibrant performance. Martin affects a noir-ish demeanor that calls to mind a hard-nosed detective in an old black-and-white film, making it an appropriate performative choice for this enthralling look at the thousands of Americans who enacted their own undercover work in order to keep their country safe.
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