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The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold: An American Life (Hardcover)

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If there ever was a poster child for "Treason against the U.S.", it would have to be Benedict Arnold.  Anyone steeped in the American Revolution knows that Arnold was a bad guy.  A traitor.  A snitch.  And every so often a book comes out to underscore that line -- most recently, Philbrick's "Valiant Ambition" (2016).

 

Okay.  So he was a bad guy.  But few talk about the sea of bad guys Benedict Arnold was swimming against.  Growing up in New Haven, his dad was a hopeless drunk.  Soldiering in early days of the rebellion meant you were surrounded by people (even generals) who had no idea what they were doing.  And the Continental Congress was laced with dullards who saw no reason to provide the barest of essentials to the "army" that was fighting on their behalf.  For Arnold, honor was supremely important.  And honor was nary impossible to achieve -- particularly among fools who were entrusted to bestow it.

 

So here was hapless Benedict.  A brilliant military mind and extraordinary fighter.  Where others sat around in tents smoking cigars, he was out on the field leading charges, getting horses shot out from underneath him.  When funds were needed and unavailable to ply war, he pulled money out of his own pocket.  Promotions and increases in rank eluded him.  Jealous others often took credit for his valor... and because he didn't suffer fools gracefully, his tongue and honor were always questioned.  Enemies besieged him.  Congress held him out to dry, financially.  While British voices claimed Arnold's martial skills to be "staggering".   Closer to home, Arnold was touted as being consumed by "personal ambition and pique"... he was "shallow, fickle, unprincipled and unstable in character".

 

Yet he soldiered on.  Often, against stiff winds of adversity, he would stand up and "fight another day" -- mostly when Washington pleaded with him to ignore slights and do so.  Then Arnold snapped.  In his mind, honor was no longer possible.  The rebels had just experienced crushing defeats.  And he believed, for the sake of the country, he would have to help Britain end the war and return to a colonial past -- with new promises of benevolence.  In his mind, he was saving America from itself.  Doing what was best.  What was honorable.

— Bob Wells

Product Details
ISBN: 9781681777375
ISBN-10: 1681777371
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018
Pages: 336
Language: English


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