The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold: An American Life

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Product Details

$27.95  $25.99
Pegasus Books
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.1 X 1.7 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author

Joyce Lee Malcolm is a professor at George Mason University School of Law. She is the author of Guns and Violence; Peter's War; and To Keep and Bear Arms. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.


"'Since the fall of Lucifer, ' Nathanael Greene, a general in the Continental Army, wrote after the Revolutionary War, 'nothing has equaled the fall of Arnold.' Joyce Lee Malcolm knows this story, and yet she has embraced the thankless, if not Sisyphean, task of contextualizing America's first traitor in her new and aptly named biography, The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold. Malcolm has written a fine biography--the best in recent memory, in fact."-- "The Washington Post"
"Joyce Lee Malcolm describes 'the most infamous man in American history' as a two-dimensional caricature in the minds of most Americans. Ms. Malcolm's The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold does show that Arnold's hunger for recognition and refusal to compromise embroiled him in conflicts that weakened his commitment to independence. Arnold was especially resentful, she notes, of the ill treatment he felt he had received from civilian politicians. She draws on colonial history and the outlook of the 18th-century Atlantic world to describe a profound civilian distrust of professional soldiers and standing armies. Ms. Malcolm, a historian at George Mason University's law school, describes how tensions between George Washington and the Continental Congress, whose members had adopted this wary civilian view of the military, fueled ever greater discontent within the Continental Army. Ms. Malcolm suggests that Arnold--helped along by his prickly personality and the trauma of a crippling wound--reacted by switching sides."-- "The Wall Street Journal"
"An attempt to bring understanding, if not forgiveness, to the story of Benedict Arnold. Examining a variety of primary sources, Malcolm dives further into the psyche of the man synonymous with the word 'traitor.'"-- "Kirkus Reviews"
"Solid. A readable account of a remarkable life."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"Acknowledges and builds on more than a century of writings on the subject, bringing a fresh perspective by making use of resources only recently discovered. A compelling read for anyone interested in early American biographies."-- "Library Journal"
"Malcolm does for Benedict Arnold what Ron Chernow did for Alexander Hamilton, reexamining and redeeming a complex historical figure. Though Malcolm's tome is not as lengthy as Chernow's, she does an excellent job of transforming American history's best-known villain into a war hero who loved his country so much that he gave his heart, soul, and body to the American cause during the Revolutionary War. This adventurous, entertaining read will appeal to a broad audience, and book clubs will thoroughly enjoy this game-changer, a multilayered reassessment of a long misunderstood American."-- "Booklist (starred)"