The most recommended books about treason

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to treason, and here are their favorite treason books.
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Book cover of The Kingdom of Liars

M. J. Kuhn Author Of Among Thieves

From my list on where no one is 'the good guy'.

Who am I?

I love a book where the good guys are pure-hearted and the bad guys are evil, but there's something so fascinating about a story where the lines of good and evil blur and bend. I firmly believe that everyone is the hero in their own story… and everyone is the villain in at least one other person’s story. My Tales of Thamorr duology features multiple heists and hijinks, and every member of our crew has plans to betray their fellows. My goal in writing stories where no one is the ‘good guy’ is to create a reading experience where you want to root for everyone and no one at the same time.

M. J.'s book list on where no one is 'the good guy'

M. J. Kuhn Why did M. J. love this book?

The main character in The Kingdom of Liars is the son of a traitor. He lives a life scamming and scraping to get by, and he’s not the most likable of people, on the whole. (I say this with love).

The story is filled with political maneuvering, double dealings, and self-serving characters you’ll find yourself rooting for… even if you also kind of hate them. This book also has one of the cooler magic systems I’ve seen in a while: the price for using magic is memory, so with every bit of magic you wield, you lose a bit more of yourself.

It’s a fascinating tale that is the first book in a trilogy!

By Nick Martell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Kingdom of Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Kingman has been an outsider for as long as he remembers. The court which executed his father also exiled him and his family. They branded him a traitor, and the nobles who had been his friends turned their backs, prepared to let the legendary Kingman family die on Hollow's city streets.

Only they survived.

And it should come as no surprise to Hollow Court, or the King, that they've been searching for the truth ever since.
History is written by the winners, truth buried beneath lies until it's Forgotten. Justice seems impossible in a city where the price of…


Book cover of A Perfect Spy

Carl Vonderau Author Of Saving Myles

From my list on thrillers that are as much about family as danger.

Who am I?

I am a former international banker and now a prize-winning author. My books take place in the financial world. However, my writing principle is that behind every crime is a family. In my thrillers, the crime amplifies the family dysfunction. My characters can only survive by growing and coming together. If you like character development, as well as the twists and turns of a good plot, you will like the novels that I recommend. 

Carl's book list on thrillers that are as much about family as danger

Carl Vonderau Why did Carl love this book?

Magnes Pym is a British intelligence officer and double agent. He’s had perfect training for the job from his con artist father.

Le Carré deftly balances Magnes’s urge to lie like his father, and his yearning for meaning and principle in his life. It is very difficult to make a con artist likable and le Carré succeeds brilliantly with Pym’s father. At the same time the father steals from his victims, he gives them the kind of support and appreciation that they long for.

The dialogue is brilliant and you can’t help but love these eccentric characters. 

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Perfect Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"The best English novel since the war." -- Philip Roth

Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend-and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father's death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus?

In A Perfect Spy, John le Carre has crafted one…


Book cover of A Tip for the Hangman

Katie Crabb Author Of Sailing by Orion's Star

From my list on historical books that aren’t about kings or queens.

Who am I?

I am a librarian and a writer with a passion for history and challenging the narrative, because sometimes, the things the history books tell us aren’t the whole story. After all, history belongs to the victor, doesn’t it? Finding and writing stories that explore historical lives beyond royals and the wealthy is what I love, and I’m always looking for more books that do this. I started reading historical fiction as a child, delving into things like the Dear America and American Girl series, that told the stories of everyday people in these grand moments of history, and reading those books inspired me to write my own.

Katie's book list on historical books that aren’t about kings or queens

Katie Crabb Why did Katie love this book?

This book, set during the Elizabethan period, tells the intrigue-filled story of Christopher (or Kit) Marlowe as he agrees to be a spy for the Queen of England in order to make the money he needs to become a playwright. I know what you’re thinking. This does involve a monarch, but it’s very much about what happens when a desperate man makes a deal with powerful people to achieve his dreams, and ends up in trouble. If you know what happened to the famous playwright who was Shakespeare’s peer before his death (or what likely happened to him), you know what I mean. This book is a thriller, but is at its heart a love story about a man in love with his art and his best friend, and his struggle to choose between them. 

By Allison Epstein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Tip for the Hangman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Elizabethan espionage thriller in which playwright Christopher Marlowe spies on Mary, Queen of Scots while navigating the perils of politics, theater, romance—and murder.

England, 1585. In Kit Marlowe's last year at Cambridge, he is approached by Queen Elizabeth's spymaster offering an unorthodox career opportunity: going undercover to intercept a Catholic plot to put Mary, Queen of Scots on Elizabeth's throne. Spying on Queen Mary turns out to be more than Kit bargained for, but his salary allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years he becomes the toast of London's raucous theater scene. But when…


Book cover of A Season for Treason

Alyson Chase Author Of Disciplined by the Duke

From my list on naughty historical romance to heat up your nights.

Who am I?

I grew up reading nothing but mystery novels, which is why when I discovered romance, I found the ones I liked the best had a bit of intrigue to them. As Alyson Chase, I write Regency romances I like to read: full of adventure and mystery, deep emotional connections, and, yes, quite a bit naughty. Character is the most important thing to me, whether as a writer or reader, and the books on this list are full of characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

Alyson's book list on naughty historical romance to heat up your nights

Alyson Chase Why did Alyson love this book?

This book has everything. Spies and intrigue. Friendship and family. And some spanking, sexy good times. There is a lightness to the book, a sweetness along with the steam that had me immediately buying the rest in the series. I loved how even though Mary tried her hardest to go unnoticed, Rex saw through her façade to the complex woman underneath. And I had to laugh when Rex rushes to Mary’s rescue only to find she and one of her friends have already taken down the bad guy. His disbelief was priceless. A thoroughly charming and spicy read.

By Golden Angel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Season for Treason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A traitor. A courtship. A scandalous Season.
In the race against time, will this pair reach the altar or the traitor first?

In the service of England's spymaster (well, his niece, but surely he'll appreciate the help), Miss Mary Wilson is on a mission to uncover a treasonous plot. Though her only clue leads to the debaucherous secret society of the Marquess of Hartford, a lifetime of being overlooked should ensure her access to all of the gossip her assignment will require. There's just one problem: Mary is due to find a husband this Season and her Aunt Elizabeth, the…


Book cover of Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain

Mark Hollingsworth Author Of Agents of Influence: How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies

From my list on the KGB, Russia and espionage.

Who am I?

I have been writing about Russia for the past 20 years for all the UK national newspapers, The Spectator and contributed to several TV documentaries. I am fascinated by Russia which is a unique country and has been a major influence on the world for the past 100 years. Based on new documents, my book Londongrad - From Russia with Cash revealed how Russian Oligarchs made their wealth, moved it out of Russia, hid their fortunes and then parked and spent it in London. My new book - Agents of Influence - provides an insight into how the KGB influenced the West based on new archives.

Mark's book list on the KGB, Russia and espionage

Mark Hollingsworth Why did Mark love this book?

Many people have wondered why so many upper-class Englishmen brought up in the heart and highest echelons of the British Establishment betrayed their country. 

This book provides the answers and examines how their treachery influenced British foreign policy and cultural and political institutions until the end of the Cold War. It also reads extremely well and is full of colourful asides and anecdotes.

By Richard Davenport-Hines,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enemies Within as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What pushed Blunt, Burgess, Cairncross, Maclean and Philby into Soviet hands?

With access to recently released papers and other neglected documents, this sharp analysis of the intelligence world examines how and why these men and others betrayed their country and what this cost Britain and its allies.

Enemies Within is a new history of the influence of Moscow on Britain told through the stories of those who chose to spy for the Soviet Union. It also challenges entrenched assumptions about abused trust, corruption and Establishment cover-ups that began with the Cambridge Five and the disappearance of Guy Burgess and Donald…


Book cover of The Last Queen of England

Janet Few Author Of Sins as Red as Scarlet: a Devon Town in Turmoil

From my list on genealogical mystery novels.

Who am I?

I inhabit the past. You may find me lurking in my four-hundred-year-old Devon cottage, or spot me thinly disguised as the formidable Mistress Agnes, a good wife of a certain age who leads a somewhat chaotic life during the mid-seventeenth century. I write, I read, I research, I share my passion, I write some more. My life revolves around reading, writing and researching history. Having spent the past forty-five years unravelling my own family’s story and loving both historical and crime novels, what could be better than a book that combines all these elements. I have to say that if genealogy was as dangerous a career as some of these books imply, no one would be advised to take it up!

Janet's book list on genealogical mystery novels

Janet Few Why did Janet love this book?

In The Last Queen of England, fact, and fiction are intertwined as genealogist Jefferson Tayte races against time to solve a puzzle, set by members of The Royal Society, relating to the rightful heir to the throne. Can Tayte crack the code and solve the mystery before there is yet another murder? Can he avoid becoming yet another victim of the conspiracy?

By Steve Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Queen of England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While on a visit to London, American genealogist Jefferson Tayte's old friend and colleague dies in his arms. Before long, Tayte and a truth-seeking historian, Professor Jean Summer, find themselves following a corpse-ridden trail that takes them to the Royal Society of London, circa 1708.

What to make of the story of five men of science, colleagues of Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren, who were mysteriously hanged for high treason?

As they edge closer to the truth, Tayte and the professor find that death is once again in season. A new killer, bent on restoring what he sees as the…


Book cover of A Treason of Thorns

Lindsey Lamh Author Of A Voracious Grief

From my list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists.

Who am I?

Reading Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other “scary stories” in high school ignited a hunger for suspense. In writing my own gothic horror novel, I explored the why’s and how’s a bit, and discovered that the thing I love about lurking, terrifying danger in books is that it bares a character’s soul more rapidly, and more believably, than almost any other plot device. When we face a fate worse than death, we confront our deepest motivators and challenge bedrock beliefs. I hope you’ll enjoy the books on this list as much as I do! I feel like their particular uniqueness is hard to find.

Lindsey's book list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists

Lindsey Lamh Why did Lindsey love this book?

One of the most unique stories I’ve ever read, A Treason of Thorns is about an alternate England where magic permeates the land, held in check by several great houses, all of which are possessed by eldricht spirits.

One of these great houses has been promised a Keeper, one who will give her life to serve it, her body slowly poisoned by its power. Violet isn’t afraid of her precious Burleigh House. At least, not until she falls in love and must choose, for the first time, whether she really can put the house first. In the meantime, Burleigh is falling to pieces and the King is bent on its destruction.

A truly thrilling, fast-paced story of risk and daring on the part of a iron-willed young woman who has everything to lose. 

By Laura E Weymouth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Treason of Thorns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

An enchancting, lyrical novel from the acclaimed
author of A Light Between Worlds!
'Weymouth's prose is lush and evocative, filled with palpable
descriptions and compelling mystery' KIRKUS

'With lush prose and an eye for atmospheric detail, Weymouth
adeptly spins a tale in which thge heroine is torn between passion
and purpose, destruction and duty.' PUBLISHERS
WEEKLY

When her father is convicted of high treason, Violet Sterling
is exiled. Seven years later she has a chance to return to her beloved
Burleigh House and to Wyn, the boy she left behind. But Burleigh
- one of the six great magical houses…


Book cover of On Treason: A Citizen's Guide to the Law

Gerard N. Magliocca Author Of American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment

From my list on constitutional history.

Who am I?

My books are about American constitutional history, especially the parts or people that are typically overlooked. In these polarized times, there is both wisdom and comfort that can be found in looking at our past. One lesson from looking back is that there was no “golden age” in which Americans all got along. Democracy is sometimes messy, sometimes violent, and almost always involves fierce disagreements. Judged at a distance, there is great drama and great satisfaction in looking at how prior generations addressed their problems. I hope you enjoy the books on my list!

Gerard's book list on constitutional history

Gerard N. Magliocca Why did Gerard love this book?

Professor Larson is America’s leading expert on treason and wrote this book for non-lawyers. He starts with treason in England, discusses the views of the Founding Fathers, and then goes through many entertaining treason cases or examples. Some involve familiar historical names like Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, and Jefferson Davis. Others involve notorious celebrities such as Tokyo Rose and Jane Fonda. A fun book on a serious subject. 

By Carlton F. W. Larson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Treason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A concise, accessible, and engaging guide to the crime of treason, written by the nation's foremost expert on the subject

Treason-the only crime specifically defined in the United States Constitution-is routinely described by judges as more heinous than murder. Today, the term is regularly tossed around by politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle. But, as accusations of treason flood the news cycle, it is not always clear what the crime truly is, or when it should be prosecuted.

Carlton F. W. Larson, a scholar of constitutional law and legal history, takes us on a journey to understand…


Book cover of Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-1796

Emma Macleod Author Of A War of Ideas: British Attitudes to the Wars Against Revolutionary France, 1792-1802

From my list on British political debate in the age of revolutions.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by what people make of political events at home and abroad. The rapid expansion of public opinion in later eighteenth-century Britain, in tandem with the explosion of the press—newspapers, books, sermons, plays, poetry, novels, magazines, and cartoons—makes it a wonderful period to explore. People in the past were no less complex and sophisticated than we are; they simply lived in different circumstances, opportunities, and constraints, with different assumptions and priorities. My British Visions of America, 1775–1820 (2013) also deals with the British trying to understand foreign affairs, while The Wodrow-Kenrick Correspondence, 1750–1810, eds Fitzpatrick, Macleod and Page is full of events at home and abroad.

Emma's book list on British political debate in the age of revolutions

Emma Macleod Why did Emma love this book?

Poor George III: ridiculed in caricatures and the object of attempted assassinations!

This enormous book is a real page-turner. Its aim is to show that the changing meanings of words had a huge impact on the politics of the 1790s in Britain. The fourteenth-century statute of treason listed among its crimes that of ‘imagining the king’s death.’

In the reign of Edward III, that meant actually planning the death of the monarch, but by the 1790s, the word ‘imagine’ had taken on the modern definition of ‘envisaging’ or ‘fantasising.’ This much wider definition of ‘imagining’ had dire consequences for reformers who had no intention of arranging the death of the king but whose language might be loose enough to open them up to the charge of ‘imagining’ it. 

By John Barrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imagining the King's Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is high treason in British law to 'imagine' the king's death. But after the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, everyone in Britain must have found themselves imagining that the same fate might befall George III. How easy was it to distinguish between fantasising about the death of George and 'imagining' it, in the legal sense of 'intending' or 'designing'? John Barrell examines this question in the context of the political trials of the mid-1790s and the controversies they generated. He shows how the law of treason was adapted in the years following Louis's death to punish what was…


Book cover of Stolen Words - The Classic Book on Plagiarism

Beth Luey Author Of Expanding the American Mind: Books and the Popularization of Knowledge

From my list on that tell us why we read and write.

Who am I?

As an avid reader, I'm curious about where books come from and what they do. How does a story get to be a book? How does someone become an author? What is happening to us as we read? I worked in publishing, and eventually, I started teaching other people how to become editors and publishers. As a faculty member, I had time to study and write about book history. I joined the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing when it was formed and became its president. The conferences helped me to learn about the history of books throughout the world and from pre-print times to the present.

Beth's book list on that tell us why we read and write

Beth Luey Why did Beth love this book?

As a writer and teacher, I’ve always classified plagiarism as a high crime and misdemeanor. It’s the academic equivalent of treason. Thomas Mallon covers well-known and unknown instances, word thieves punished and not. The book is highly entertaining but deadly serious about the harm done by plagiarists and by those who do not take their crimes seriously.

By Thomas Mallon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stolen Words - The Classic Book on Plagiarism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The definitive book on the subject" of plagiarism (The New York Times) is updated with a new afterword about the Internet.

What is plagiarism, and why is it such a big deal? Since when is originality considered an indispensable attribute of authorship? Stolen Words is a deft and well-informed history of the sin every writer fears from every angle. Award-winning author Thomas Mallon begins in the seventeenth century and pushes forward toward scandals in publishing, academia, and Hollywood, exploring the motivations, consequences, and emotional reverberations of an intriguing and distressingly widespread practice. In this now-classic study, Mallon proves himself to…