Book Review (by The Husband): Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

While real life history is being made tonight at the Republican National Convention (this country really didn’t just nominate one of its most obnoxious citizens as a candidate for President of the United States, right?)  I’m choosing to tune out the shenanigans.  I watched last night and quite frankly, I’ve seen more than enough.

Instead, we’re watching Parks & Recreation this evening (“The Debate” from Season 4, which is actually rather apropos) and I’m sharing The Husband’s book review of Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick(Who grew up here in Pittsburgh!)

Valiant Ambition

While many believe they know the story of Benedict Arnold and his treasonous betrayal of his ‘country’, in Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick, the many nuances and details that led Arnold – considered by some at the time to be an even greater commander of men than George Washington – to do what he did are deeply explored.  Philbrick, at the same time, uses Washington’s story as a parallel to Arnold’s, making the book not only a great read, but one that greatly contributes to American Revolution historiography.

Philbrick argues that – in the end – a Benedict Arnold was needed to save the American colonies from losing the Revolutionary War. The story many of us ‘know’ is not how it really was during the fighting between 1775-1781.  As Philbrick writes, “The real Revolution was so troubling and strange that once the struggle was over, a generation did its best to remove all traces of the truth. No one wanted to remember how, after boldly declaring their independence, they had so quickly lost their way; how patriotic zeal had lapsed into cynicism and self-interest; and how, just when all seemed lost, a traitor had saved them from themselves.”  

Continue reading here

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #51 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

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