Nonfiction; 337 pages
An introduction to the life of Benedict Arnold that highlights not only the traitorous actions that made him legendary, but also his heroic involvement in the American Revolution.
In a labor of love, Steve Sheinkin tells the compelling and deeply disturbing story of the most famous traitor of the American Revolution, Benedict Arnold. Defying the odds at birth by surviving a treacherous snowstorm, the young Arnold grew up as a daredevil and hyperactive show-off. When he came of age as the Americans went to war against the British, Arnold used his immense energy and fearlessness to become a brilliant though mercurial commander who saved the war effort for the colonies. His ego and lack of political skill undercut his military victories, though, and as he won battles for the war he acquired so many enemies that his military career was cut short. Newly married to a beautiful, conniving socialite, Arnold’s need for money escalated just as his means for acquiring it evaporated. What he does to solve his financial problems and how closely he comes to succeeding is a suspenseful story that I couldn’t put down. Sheinkin’s short chapters and the perspective of Arnold’s British contact heightens the drama. The book includes copious source notes, quotation sources, maps, and an effective index, making it a valuable text for research in addition to its value as a powerful story.