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George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots Paperback – October 5, 2010
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 biographyone of the very few to deal with Benedict Arnoldmilitary 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 enemiesboth men were subject to jealous conspiracies against them from plotting generals and petty politicians (including, in Washingtons case, John Adams). But while Washington rose above his enemies, Arnold became embittered by them. With a character less stoic than Washingtons, 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Now that Palmer's resume has been taken care of, what does he provide here? He provides a full history, with seemingly all available records on these men's environments, history, childhood, trends, exploits, and directions. His reputation as a historian is well founded here as he provides almost all available records about the events of that time as well as lay a path in uncovering the historical trails these two men left behind so many years ago. As he says himself, because of Arnold's notoriety, not many people are interested in studying the man and it's perhaps the reason that no one, including myself when I was growing up, ever really learned the whys, the motivations, and even the details behind Arnold's betrayal. Now that I myself do, I can't help but picture a little to a lot of Benedict Arnold in so many of the other traitors or even good guys gone bad in so many TV shows and movies that I have watched! His covering of Arnold's years as a traitor and his attempts to hand over West Pointe, referred to as the key to winning the Revolutionary War, are so intrinsic and suspenseful that it would make for great viewing in my honest opinion.
George Washington on the other hand, deserves all the accolades he's gotten in life for all he's done and overcome, and while Palmer doesn't paint as big a picture of him as many other works have, he nevertheless succeeds at his intended point in covering the major events of both his early life and contributions in the Revolutionary War to paint a dual picture of these two men.
Palmer's overall point is obviously an attempt to pinpoint exactly how these two patriots could've gone down such strikingly similar paths yet end up with such different reputations left behind. After he's laid out as much history as could possibly be given, he gives a fairly good yet somewhat woefully short analysis on the character of each man. Whereas many chapters covered many, many pages, this chapter (titled "Character" of course) comes off somewhat under expectations. What contributions to certain peoples actions are complex and their real-world applications are even more difficult to determine yet Palmer, in this reviewer's honest opinion, does a great job with what is available. He lays out the building blocks and overall traits of what makes up good character and applies them to whichever one of these two men carried them. This book is great reading for all history (and even psychology) buffs from big to small and would make a great series if done justice!
P.S. On a rather personal note, it's a shame that one of the other men interviewed on that program named William "Bill" Stanley, arguably Benedict Arnold's official biographer and most ardent defender, did not himself write a book on the man; even more so since Stanley has passed away recently. Although Palmer is willing to uncover Arnold's motivations and obviously refers to him as a patriot in the title, it's clear in much of his writing during Arnold's time as a traitor in the later chapters, that he shows an undisguised disdain for Arnold's actions while someone like Stanley would've been a bit more understanding from what I've learned about the man--perhaps because of Palmer's own background as a dedicated Lt. General. While Stanley has always said that he doesn't deny or even approve of Arnold's treason, he still viewed Arnold as one of the biggest heroes of the Revolution thanks to the courage of his earlier actions and his own personal points would've really been interesting to read in my opinion.
SGM, Jimmy R. D. USA RET.
I think it is more important for those contemplating reading this book to tell what this book is not rather than what it is. It is not a thorough tale of the battles, the hardships, the backgrounds of either man. There are no maps of the battles which are oversimplified as are some of the most intricate relationships, particularly between those of the "cabal" against Washington or Arnold's incredible acrimony with his foes in Philadelphia or Gates.
However, what it is, is a superficial overview of some complex interactions and battles to enable the reader to understand the "feelings" and rational behind the actions and beliefs of these two men.
Both men scorned in different ways, with very different outcomes and legacies.