From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–American history is brought to life in this engaging story of revolution and treason. Most people know very little about Benedict Arnold–only that he was a traitor during the American War of Independence. Sheinkin recounts the tale of a larger-than-life persona, from his uncertain boyhood to his immense popularity as an unpredictable, yet brilliant, commander in the American army, and finally, to his end days, living in London, despised and disgraced. The story of Arnold's bravery and his rise in the esteem of the colonists is played out against the political squabbling and fears the Continental Congress had about military figures becoming too powerful and upsetting the delicate democracy they were busy creating. Through letters, journals, historic accounts, and other resources, Sheinkin keeps readers wanting to know what will happen next. Short, episodic chapters titled with relevant dates are an effective way to pace various battles–on the field and off–and understand their place in the larger picture of the war. Other key figures are well developed in the narrative. Seeing a glimpse of these personalities makes their subsequent actions believable and meaningful. The Notorious Benedict Arnold is likely to make readers want to learn more about the American Revolution and its players, great and small. Source notes at the end of the book allow them to do just that.–Karen Elliott, Grafton High School, WIα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
History junkies are in for a treat when they pick up this lively, highly readable biography of the U.S.’ most vilified traitor. Emphasizing Arnold’s reckless, adventurous side, Sheinkin, who admits to being a longtime admirer of the infamous figure, makes a good case for why Americans have cause to embrace the general’s early incarnation as a heroic icon of the Revolution. Without his impetuous personality and willingness to hurl himself into a fray, the war might well have been lost before the French directed their might our way. Arnold’s fall also becomes understandable, if inexcusable, in Sheinkin’s hands. How much did his wounds, colossal ego, and need for money sway him to become a potential betrayer? Weaving in the story of John André, Arnold’s British contact, creates an atmosphere of suspense. When will they finally meet? How close will they come to throwing the war? Copious source notes and quotation notes will lead both report writers and avid enthusiasts to additional materials. A worthy addition to all libraries. Grades 6-9. --Karen Cruze