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Benedict Arnold's Navy Paperback – May 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

An epic story of one man’s devotion to the American cause

In October 1776, four years before Benedict Arnold’s treasonous attempt to hand control of the Hudson River to the British, his patch-work fleet on Lake Champlain was all that stood between British forces and a swift end to the American rebellion.

Benedict Arnold’s Navy is the dramatic chronicle of that desperate battle and of the extraordinary events that occurred on the American Revolution’s critical northern front. Written with captivating narrative vitality, this landmark book shows how Benedict Arnold’s fearless leadership against staggering odds in a northern wilderness secured for America the independence that he would later try to betray.

Praise for James L. Nelson:

"James Nelson is a master both of his period and of the English language."
--Patrick O'Brian, author of Master and Commander

"James L. Nelson tells this story with clarity and literary skill and with such ease and order that the reader feels he is attending a dissertation on history given by a consummate lecturer."
--Ron Berthel, Associated Press, on Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, winner of the American Library Association’s 2004 Award for Best Military History

"It is, by far, the best Civil War novel I’ve read; reeking of battle, duty, heroism and tragedy. It’s a triumph of imagination and good, taut writing . . . "
--Bernard Cornwell on Glory in the Name, winner of the W. Y. Boyd Literary Award

His name is synonymous with treason, yet few men did more to prevent America’s defeat in 1776

The story of America’s fight for independence has been dominated by accounts from the battlefields where George Washington fought the British, but one of the most critical and least remembered battles of 1776 was a bloody, lopsided fight on a wilderness lake hundreds of miles north. In a war marked by improbable turning points, that one naval battle would, in the end, prove the key to America's ultimate victory.

Award-winning historian James L. Nelson weaves a thrilling narrative around the Battle of Valcour Island, in which a cobbled-together American fleet, led by the bold and resourceful Arnold, stood up to the might of the British navy, only to be destroyed in the end by overwhelming odds. Setting the desperate battle in its context, Benedict Arnold ’s Navy describes the strategic importance of the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, the ambitious and largely successful American invasion of Quebec in 1775, and the bloody retreat of the following year. The one-year delay of the subsequent British invasion from Canada won by Arnold’s gallant, overmatched fleet made possible an American triumph in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, the first significant victory of the Revolution. This success finally convinced France to join America in arms and turned the tide of war.

Using storytelling skills honed by a dozen novels, including the popular Revolution at Sea Saga and the W. Y. Boyd Award-winning Glory in the Name, Nelson brings to life a new image of Benedict Arnold. He is not the vainglorious traitor of popular imagination but a fearless and talented officer, a favorite of General Washington, and a man who, in thirty months of fighting, led troops into hell and back.

This suspenseful drama is a salutary reminder that the American Revolution between 1775 and 1778 was a two-front war. Benedict Arnold ’s Navy is a much needed look at the less-celebrated front to the north, where armies clashed in the wilderness and on the cold waters of Lake Champlain in battles that would determine the outcome of the war as surely as the fighting at Trenton and Yorktown.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

James L. Nelson is the author of two. series of novels about the great sailing navies: Revolution at Sea. and Brethren of the Coast. His nonfiction book Reign of Iron: The. Story of the First Battling Ironclads was named the best military. history book of 2004 by the American Library Association.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071489878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071489874
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John R. Linnell on July 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Nelson is an author to be envied if the notion of putting pen to paper and telling a story, whether it be fact or fiction has ever occurred to you. In the fourteen books he has written he has done both fiction and non-fiction superbly.

His previous non-fiction efforts have focused on the civil war navies and in particular the Confederate Navy, which is a little told, but very interesting facet of that war.

His fiction pieces have dealt with pirates and with the Revolutionary War and hopefully there will be more of those forthcoming as well.

In his latest he takes a man whose name stands for treachery and tells of his role in helping America to ultimate victory during our war for independance.

Benedict Arnold, the ultimate traitor, was for 30 months one of America's most stalwart military figures enduring great sacrifice and exhibiting much bravery.

Those of us who live in Maine are familiar with the story of Arnold's March to Quebec and The Arnold Trail is a route through Maine which somewhat follows that daring and brave adventure. For a number of years, I have fished and hunted in the area of Chain of Ponds and Coburn Gore where Arnold and his men passed through and while it is generally known that it was a difficult passage, you have no idea until you have read Mr. Nelson's account of it.

This is a definitive account of a part of the Revoltionary War which has received scant attention until now, so if well written history interests you, let James Nelson take you through it. It is quite a trip!
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Format: Hardcover
In the past few years, I've read about 20 books about the Revolutionary War and all of its phases. Benedict Arnold's Navy is the first work I've read which links events from Ticonderoga in 1775 to Saratoga in 1777 as a coherent series of American and British moves and countermoves linked by a rational strategy on each side.

James Nelson uses his experience as a novelist to bring the characters and events to life. His command of the era's nautical terminology is excellent. This work has the kind of detail and analysis I enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
First, let me say that Nelson's work is an excellent, well written, fast paced, general history read...but its title: "Benedict Arnold's Navy" is (at least in my opinion) quite misleading.

If you are looking for an enjoyable introductory read on the subject of Benedict Arnold the patriot, I cannot think of a better book to recommend. If, however, you are looking for a book detailing Arnold's Navy, it is very possible that this book will miss your mark.

Nelson gives the names, dates and a compelling narrative of the naval events on Lake Champlain but, as only about a third of the book deals with its title subject, there is little of the depth I had hoped for.

The book gives a cursory background of Arnold's youth and the battles at Saratoga, but goes into 'story telling mode' for the period in Arnold's life between these two periods of time.

Begining with Arnold's election as Captain of the Governor's 2nd Company of Connecticut Guards at New Haven in 1775, Nelson gives a wonderfully paced account of Arnold's exploits leading up to and including the Champlain naval action and its aftermath.

It is important for me to stress the point that this book would be a 5 star general history read if it had been titled something along the lines of: "Benedict Arnold; In Service to his Country", its failing (and my 2 star demotion) comes from a title that confuses the content.

--Thom Shanken

* * Book recommendations from knowledgeable sources are getting harder to find. Please take the time to write a review about what you've read...Thanks! * *
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Format: Hardcover
I have read most of James L. Nelson's novels, and this work of non-fiction is just as exciting as any of them. It's obvious he has done his homework. Nelson makes use of many, many primary sources, letting the people who made history talk for themselves using numerous quotes. The action is almost nonstop, from Ticonderoga to Quebec to the battle of Valcour Island. What's more, Nelson puts the fight in perspective, showing why this seemingly minor battle was so imprortant historically. I recommend this book to anyone who loved 1776, Washington's Spys or just loves American history.
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Format: Hardcover
This well written and interesting book focuses on two neglected but important aspects of the American Revolutionary War - Benedict Arnold and his campaigns in Canada and northern New York.

Arnold was, unquestionably, one of the most able and competent American commanders of the war. Strategically and tactically he overshadowed all his contemporaries and had he chosen not to betray his country to the British he would have gone down in history as one of this country's greatest military heroes.

It was the offensively-minded Arnold who took the war to the British in Canada and who defended the northern approaches into the United Colonies (later the United States) in northern New York. His abilities as a military planner, logistician, and combat commander - both on land and at sea - delayed the British in the north for more than a year, allowing Washington to first rebuild and strengthen his shattered Continental Army and later defeat the British at Trenton and Saratoga.

Arnold's war, far from the heart of America, thus ensured the survival of the Continental Army and the United States.

This book is recommended for anyone wishing to learn more about a now forgotten American warrior and his equally forgotten campaigns in Canada and New York.
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