The Real Benedict Arnold

Overview


Every account of the American Revolution mentions Benedict Arnold and brands him?correctly?as a traitor. There?s no question that Arnold, an American army officer, switched his loyalty to the British side. Over the years, however, historians, partisans, and gossips have added to Arnold?s unsavory reputation by distorting, embroidering, or simply ignoring factual details.
In this informed and thoughtful account, Jim Murphy goes in search of the real man behind the ?traitor? ...
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Overview


Every account of the American Revolution mentions Benedict Arnold and brands him—correctly—as a traitor. There’s no question that Arnold, an American army officer, switched his loyalty to the British side. Over the years, however, historians, partisans, and gossips have added to Arnold’s unsavory reputation by distorting, embroidering, or simply ignoring factual details.
In this informed and thoughtful account, Jim Murphy goes in search of the real man behind the “traitor” label, rumors, and folktales that became part of the Benedict Arnold legend. Drawing on Arnold’s few surviving writings and on the letters, memoirs, and political documents of his contemporaries, Murphy builds a fascinating portrait of a brilliant man, consistently undervalued by his peers, who made a choice that continues to reverberate through American history. Dramatic accounts of crucial battles and political maneuvers round out this lively biography of a patriot who could have been a hero.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Perhaps we can never know the real Arnold, but this splendid biography brings us close ... fascinating reading." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"As always, Murphy's prose is clear and detailed.... An important addition to collections on the American Revolution." Kirkus Reviews

This well-developed account will be valuable to Revolutionary War enthusiasts, and the index andf bibliogaphic notes will assist report writers in junior high and beyond.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

The author's consideration of other historians' theories and use of sophisicated vocaulary will challenge his audience to think critically and conisder all points of view.
Publishers Weekly

Perhaps we can never know the real Arnold, but this splendid biography brings us close.The final section provides fascinating reading as well as additional resources.
Book Links, ALA

Buffs of the era, military enthusiasts, and biography readers will be entranced by this fascinating, well-researched volume.
School Library Journal, Starred

Murphy examines both rumors and facts about Arnold so that readers can 'see Benedict Arnold in as fair and as objective a way as possible.
Horn Book

This fast-paced, interesting, and well-written book sheds light on who he was before his traitorous act and why he chose to commit it.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Elizabeth Ward
Jim Murphy, who hit a home run in 2003 with An American Plague, an account of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic, does an impressive job with a less obviously enthralling subject in The Real Benedict Arnold…Murphy succeeds in animating the man—"brilliant soldier," husband and father—behind the mask of the reviled Revolutionary War traitor.
—The Washington Post
F. Todd Goodson
The Real Benedict Arnold is a serious attempt to dispassionately tell the story of one of the most controversial figures in American history. Murphy goes to considerable lengths to convince us he is not an apologist, trying to revise history or make Arnold something less than a traitor. Murphy does, however, debunk as folklore a number of anecdotes about Arnold that serve to show him as a simplistic villain. Rather, it presents Arnold's life story in an attempt to understand and explain the man and his choices. For the most part, value judgments are left to the reader. This book is a serious biography. It is carefully crafted and rich in cultural and even genealogical detail regarding Arnold's life. As such, it is most appropriate for high school students with the interest and patience to dig beneath simple portrayals of good and evil in historical figures. The book is suitable for inclusion on a supplementary reading list for an American history course, and Advanced Placement teachers might want to consider it as a required reading. Reviewer: F. Todd Goodson
Children's Literature
Author Jim Murphy has taken a close look at American army officer Benedict Arnold in order to better understand why he switched his loyalties to the British side during the American Revolution. Murphy paints a picture of a brilliant, loyal officer who fought gallantly against the British, yet was criticized by his peers and passed over for promotions. Arnold was born on January 14, 1741 into a good family who had established themselves in New England in the mid-1600s. At the age of twenty, he opened an apothecary shop with a partner and began a successful trading business. He watched events unfold during the American Revolution, but was shocked at the “Boston Massacre,” when British Troops in Boston fired into a crowd of protestors and killed five people. Arnold joined the army and became a colonel. He performed bravely during battles, but was criticized for his aggressiveness. Some of his peers found fault with his tactics, others were jealous of his military skills and friendship with George Washington. Arnold became disillusioned with the lack of supplies to troops and Congress’ decisions in handling the Revolution. He tried to resign from the army, but his resignation was not accepted. There were several factors leading to his becoming a traitor, including unfair treatment to loyalist citizens. Arnold was outraged at the hanging of two loyalists who had sold goods to the British. Eventually, he became completely disillusioned with Congress, as well as the American Revolution, which he thought could not be won. Finally, Arnold made contact with a major of the British Army, offering to help the British capture West Point. Instead, the major was captured, and Arnold was found to be atraitor. He moved to Canada with his family, then later to London, England where he died at the age of sixty. The author has done a nice job of capturing a man who early in his military career had no intentions of becoming a traitor. Instead, he believed in the American Revolution and fought bravely to fight off the British Army. After years of criticism, lost promotions, injuries, and financial losses, Benedict Arnold became a disappointed Patriot and traitor of the American Revolution. Black-and-white illustrations, maps and chapter notes are included. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Murphy takes a fair and objective look at the man whose name is synonymous with treason. He paints a portrait of Arnold as a complicated and proud man who was capable, brave, quick-thinking, and idealistic as well as thin-skinned, quarrelsome, and unwilling to compromise. Murphy traces Arnold's entire life, examining his childhood and pre-military business career and then describing in great detail the campaigns and battles of his mostly successful military career. The strength of the book is his discussion of the highly political atmosphere and the weaknesses of the American government during the Revolution. Those weaknesses allowed the development of a crony system that rewarded the military leaders who were successful at the political game and failed to recognize Arnold's talents, leaving him the bitter and disillusioned man who lost faith in his cause and defected to the British side. The author also covers Arnold's post-Revolution life and his legacy of vilification on both sides of the Atlantic. The text is supplemented with fine-quality reproductions, period art, and maps of battles and campaigns. Murphy's comprehensive coverage of Arnold's life will help readers gain a fuller understanding of the man's contributions to the Revolution and the reasons for his treason. Report writers may get frustrated by the exhaustive detail, but buffs of the era, military enthusiasts, and biography readers will be entranced by this fascinating, well-researched volume.
—Mary MuellerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The name Benedict Arnold has become synonymous with the word "traitor," but the real Benedict Arnold is a more complicated entity. Since Arnold wrote no personal history or diary, and his wife burned his letters, much of this volume relies on "what ifs," "must haves," "seems to be" and "there's no telling." Murphy starts with Arnold's birth and works forward, but for young readers who may know little about Arnold, starting with the exciting scenes first-the British invasion from Canada, the Battle of Saratoga and Arnold's plot to surrender West Point to the British-would better hook readers. They would then be more willing to follow the examination of Arnold's early life for clues as to what would make a war hero turn traitor. The volume is attractively designed, with numerous reproductions of paintings, engravings and drawings sprinkled throughout, though even more would be welcome to break up long, dense sections of text. As always, Murphy's prose is clear and detailed, and his source notes are interesting. An important addition to collections on the American Revolution. (index) (Nonfiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395776094
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/17/2007
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1240L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author


Jim Murphy is the author of An American Plague, which received the Sibert Medal and a Newbery Honor and was selected as a National Book Award finalist. His Clarion titles include The Boys' War and other award-winning nonfiction.
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Table of Contents


The Most Brilliant Soldier     4
You Are Accountable     5
Be Ye Also Ready     13
A Reputation of Unsullied Honor     22
Good God Are the Americans All Asleep?     35
None but Almighty God Shall Prevent My Marching     47
I Have Resigned My Commission     57
Our Gallant Colonel     63
The Forlorn Hope     78
He Will Turn Out a Great Man     93
The Gallant Defense     102
By Heavens I Will Have Justice     114
A Devilish Fighting Fellow     124
You Will Hear of My Being Victorious     133
Inspired by the Fury of a Demon     144
We'll Have Them All in Hell     158
I Am Heartily Tired     168
On You Alone My Happiness Depends     178
Because I Might Have Done Wrong     187
Whom Can We Trust Now?     200
Nil Desperandum     215
Notes, Sources, and Related Asides     234
Index     256
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