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George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots Paperback – October 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery History; Reprint edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596986409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596986404
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,349,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fateful turns, choices and escapes from certain death dominate this captivating story of the most compelling figures of the Revolutionary War. When General George Washington appointed Benedict Arnold military commander of the Philadelphia region, military historian Palmer argues, he was not only making one of the worst personnel decisions of his career, but was also creating the conditions for the "Traitor of America" to commit his crime. Stark contrasts and similarities between two men show how their choices informed their destiny. The son of an alcoholic, Arnold became a wealthy merchant before he took up arms against the British, but distinguishing himself on the battlefield was not enough to earn Arnold the prestige he perpetually sought. Washington, who grew up on a tranquil farm, was the beneficiary of guidance from influential figures and was groomed to be a leader. Palmer has a talent for building momentum and suspense, but his most skilled turn is as profiler of the military comrades who would later be foes. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Two great patriots. Two giants of the battlefield. Yet one became our greatest hero, and one became our most notorious traitor. In this enthralling new dual biography—one of the very few to deal with Benedict Arnold—military historian and former superintendent of West Point Dave R. Palmer shows how and why George Washington became the father of our country while Benedict Arnold became a man without a country.

It was a surprising turn of events. No man was more ardent for the patriot cause and more recklessly brave on the battlefield than Benedict Arnold. After the first three years of the Revolutionary War, every patriot recognized as our two greatest warriors George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, and twice battle-wounded Benedict Arnold, captor of Fort Ticonderoga, invader of Canada, and victor at the battle of Saratoga. Washington and Arnold admired each other. Washington saw Arnold as a true fighting soldier whose merits were unjustly neglected by his superiors and the Continental Congress. Arnold respected Washington as a worthy commander in chief. They even shared enemies—both men were subject to jealous conspiracies against them from plotting generals and petty politicians (including, in Washington’s case, John Adams). But while Washington rose above his enemies, Arnold became embittered by them. With a character less stoic than Washington’s, in pain from his battlefield wounds, and with slow twists of mind, heart, character, and decision, Arnold, in charge of Fortress West Point, finally committed himself to betraying the cause that he had previously served so well. In dramatic fashion, George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots unveils a chapter of American history that rivals any novel or film for action, intrigue, and romance. It is a story that few Americans know, but that every American should. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The book is well written and easy to follow.
Bill Emblom
This book tells the story of two strong individuals who helped to shape the direction of the American Revolution.
Greg Gramza
In reading this I was struck by the simularities between Benedict Arnold and Judas.
John Matlock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book was a pleasure to read. It presents aspects of the Revolutionary War in ways that are often not given us. Too often, the founding is presented as a united band of enlightened brethren who created the founding documents with only minor differences. Washington is often depicted as the transcendent leader who was universally lauded. And Benedict Arnold is the brand name for traitor. Well, this terrific history by Dave R. Palmer, who was the superintendent of West Point, presents a realistic picture of the struggles Washington had in leading the armed forces and all those who had designs in removing him and advancing themselves or a favorite in his place. And the heroic contributions of Benedict Arnold in important battles through Saratoga are also noted.

Arnold was a man of great boldness and hot temper. He was able to lead men in battle because he was a fierce warrior. The arduous campaigns he led into the north and especially that expedition into Canada earned him the nickname of America's Hannibal. He was wounded more than once and was later wounded so badly in his leg that doctors wanted to amputate it. Arnold refused to let his leg be taken. However, the leg remained shorter than the other and gave him severe pain the rest of his life. Immediately after being wounded he expressed regret that he had not been killed. What a different reputation he would have today if he had been!

His recuperation took quite awhile, and it was during this time the accumulation of hurts he had received at the hands of the Continental Congress and other officers after he had sacrificed his fortune and had now sacrificed his body. He became bitter. After all, the Congress had promoted less senior officers over him because of they had connections and he did not.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Jackson on August 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
One of the first things I learned as a young cadet at the United States Military Academy is the story of how Benedict Arnold betrayed his country by attempting to hand over the fortress at West Point to the British. Now, as a graduate (Class of '97), I've always wanted to know more about what went on "behind the scenes" that could have led to arguably the most infamous act in American history. This book not only delivers as a truly neutral account of the events leading up to and following Arnold's betrayal of his country, but doubles as an extremely enjoyable read. Not just your average, boring to the masses history book, Palmer brings a captive narrative and successfully details the intriguing personalities and individual motivations of the men and women surrounding both Washington and Arnold from their early days as officers in the French and Indian War to the time their lives took decidedly different directions. As is often the case, this true story is nothing short of the kind of drama and intrigue you would expect from the best John Grisham novel. Palmer weaves you in and out of love with Arnold and ends the book with an insightful look into why one man ended up the father of his country and the other a symbol of treachery. I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in this period of American history and my thanks go out to Palmer for an outstanding discussion of the character of these two men.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gilberto Villahermosa on December 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book! It is extremely well researched and powerfully written.

Composed by career soldier and historian David Palmer, "George Washington and Benedict Arnold" tells the story of two Revolutionary War patriots who left such diametrically opposed legacies, despite life trajectories that were at one time so parallel.

George Washington and Benedict Arnold were both more than just patriots and American soldiers, they were the heart of the American military movement against the British.

Washington was the brains, soul and conscience of the Continental Army, while Benedict Arnold was the sword of the Revolution. A soldier of tremendous courage, talent and energy, he managed, time after time, to turn defeat into victory on almost every major battlefield and changed the course of the war.

Indeed, Arnold's victories eventually convinced the French to enter the war on the side of the Americans. Shortly afterward, Spain and the Netherlands followed, turning a rebellion into a world war and all but ensuring a British defeat.

But as the war progressed and Arnold failed to recieve the recognition and rewards he desperately craved, the thoughts of America's premier soldier turned to treason. Had he succeeded in his betrayal, Washington would surely have lost the war and America her independence.

How is it that two men with lives that paralleled and intertwined so closely have legacies so vastly different?

George Washington is remembered as America's greatest soldier and the father of his country, while Benedict Arnold is still considered the greatest traitor in the history of the United States.

To quote the author:

"Your thoughts become your words.
Your words become your actions.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Justin Thompson on January 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book for the good narrative that it is. Most of my pleasure came from learning the rough details of Benedict Arnold's treason. I had only known him as a traitor prior to reading this book, but had no idea that he was "America's Hannibal" prior to becoming a turncoat, nor was I aware of the reasons for his treason or the way in which he tried to execute it.

The book is a quick, enjoyable, and easy read, which I am also grateful for, because if it weren't, I probably would have put it down and tried to find something more comprehensive on the subject of Arnold to read instead. I have never read a book on a subject such as this that contains no bibliography. Palmer includes a few suggested readings at the end of the book, but it is only about 10 books altogether, and two of them are prior works of his own.

Even within the text, Palmer several times says something like "as a prominent modern historian says 'George Washington was...'"

Well, who is the historian?!

This unwillingness to cite anyone else within the text or in a bibliography really bothered me the whole time I was reading the book. The whole thing reads like something a high school student would turn in to his history teacher. The only difference between this book and the student's essay is that the book is nearly 400 pages long.

There may be some very good reason for not including a bibliography or giving a prominent modern historian credit for his words in the text. I am not accusing Palmer of anything, only saying that these things bothered me quite a bit.

Now, I will find some more books on Benedict Arnold to get the full story.
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George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots
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