Two things about this book sparked my interest when it first hit the shelves earlier this year, “traitor” Benedict Arnold and “author” Nathaniel Philbrick.

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American RevolutionValiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s refreshing to get a full account of a character who’s name has been synonymous with traitor since grade school American history lessons. Benedict Arnold was most likely not an easy person to work with and evidence seems to show that he was rather abrasive, but it also appears that his reasons for becoming disheartened with the great American experiment had at least some merit.

True, he probably had a gambling problem, maybe an attitude problem, perhaps a drinking problem, and most definitely a fidelity problem, but he was also one hell of a warrior and inspirational leader. The value he provided to the revolutionary cause, which very likely may not have succeeded without his contributions, is immeasurable.

If you are a history buff, this book will shed light on another side of events that have been well documented in previous writings, for example; the cooperation between Arnold and Ethan Allen in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, invasion of Canada, and the fate of British officer and spy Major John Andre.

My only real disappointment with this book is that it was way too short!

Not my favorite Philbrick, but a well-researched, enlightening and enjoyable read from an author that has been becoming one of my favorite writers of history ever since “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War”.

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Steve D.