This book has garnered awards and they are justified. I never expected to come across a biography that read like an adventure novel. I was swept away by the narrative and literally had difficulty putting this book down. The book is well-written with plenty of facts to back up each incident that is retold.
Before Benedict Arnold was reviled in history, before his days as a Revolutionary War Hero, back before he was a merchant with a growing family, he was a young boy dealing with a father’s growing alcoholism and the death of his mother. We can see the see the seeds of his self destruction as they are sown early on. Arnold hungered for attention, was prone to risk taking, ambitious, impatient, and easily offended. But he was also hard working with a need for being appreciated. At times, he could be charismatic, as seen when he rallied his troops to help turn the tide at the Battle of Saratoga. It is easy to believe that if he had lived today he would have his own reality television show.
I did not expect this subject to come alive for me after years of boring U.S. history classes; the author has managed to make this topic feel real and pertinent to today’s reader. I highly recommend this book for Middle School readers on up through adults. It has been a long time since I have been this excited about a biography.
Age Range: Pre-teens on up.
The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin. Flashpoint, imprint of Roaring Brook Press. 2010. 307pp.