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.
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