Cover Image: Valcour


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I had read Jack Kelly's book "Band of Giants" a couple of years ago, so when I saw he had a new book coming out, I knew I had to check it out! "Valcour" is about 1776 during the American Revolution. This includes the time when Benedict Arnold was still a good guy, and for the most part still a hero, so he is featured rather prominently in this book, as well as Horatio Gates and Philip Schuyler. The naval engagements are a major focus of the book, and it was fun to read the descriptions of the gunners and their construction.

Structure and Formatting 4/5
I tend to prefer all-encompassing histories rather than more narrow-focused books. I felt this book did a good job of giving a snapshot into the American Revolution at this time, but some of the introductions of characters and places felt choppy as a result of the narrow scope. 

Thoroughness of Research 4/5
Other than my standout "character" in this book (Colonel Wigglesworth), I didn't feel like this book introduced any new sources or gave a new analysis of existing sources. This was definitely more focused on the naval aspects of the war than some other books I have read, which was great. I may need to comb back through the notes section to see if I missed anything, but nothing jumped out at me as "ooh! Let me go look that up!" which is something I look forward to when reading history books.

Storytelling/Writing 4/5
Jack Kelly has a very easy writing style to read. I enjoy his books and will continue to look into his future books. The choppiness mentioned earlier is the only thing that I had issues with, but again I think that's just the nature of a more narrow-scoped book.

Level of Enjoyment 3.5/5
I think this book has shown me that I will never be sympathetic towards Arnold. I think that affected my enjoyment of the book a bit, but those less critical of him will probably enjoy this more. Arnold just seems to annoy me and seeing him page-after-page just started to grate on me a bit. 

Prior Knowledge Needed 4/5
I don't know if I would recommend this book to people brand new to Revolutionary War history. (For that, I would definitely recommend his book "Band of Giants.") Because of the narrow-scope of the book, it definitely helps to have some background on the rest of the war and some of the players involved. That said, the length of this book could work well for those that are at least familiar with Benedict Arnold, are fascinated by our many attempts to take Quebec, and/or have maybe seen "Hamilton." :-P
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Valcour Island was the scene of a impressive battle that was key in the American Revolution, but you won’t see it be a important factor in history books because of one of the keynote leaders involved.

Benedict Arnold is well known for his betrayal to our country, but what people forget is what he did prior for this country. Benedict was a outstanding strategist and fought many fights for America. 
One of the greatest of them he was paired with a British recruit who fought for our country, and the man who was behind the scenes, but had a brilliant mind on seeing all the pieces was Philip Schulyer. This three men developed a very intriguing and intricate plan based on Benedict’s idea of a three prong hit and it all would focus around Valcour Island.

The authors descriptive writing style kept me glued to the pages that I forgot to put my dinner in the oven. Oh, well fast food! He wrote so that I literally felt as though you were following along with Benedict and experiencing what he saw and felt. The death and sickness in the camps.

This is a phenomenal book and I highly recommend It!

I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.
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This was a wonderfully written, very informative book. There is so much we don’t know about our history and Jack Kelly introduced me to this unknown (to me) moment in American history. It is easy to read with well-drawn characterizations, full of intrigue and information. I think it’s perfect for history book clubs.
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I love it when I find historical non-fiction that does not read like a textbook.  Jack Kelly’s  “Valcour” sheds light on a little known battle between the British Canadians and the American colonists during the American Revolution.

The book also details Benedict Arnold’s role in the battle.  I have to admit, I knew little about Arnold other than he was a traitor.  After reading the account of what happened at Valcour, I have a new respect for Arnold, and a better understanding of why he turned his back on the colonists.

Kelly also describes in detail the ships and ammunitions, as well as the hardships that the seamen endured both before and after the battle at Valcour.  These men definitely deserved to win.

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an advance copy.  I’m happy to give my honest review.
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Almost directly after the Declaration of Independence, the population of New England had started to pull together an Army to conquer Canada.  When the attack failed and the Northern Army had to retreat back to New York and try to block the Redcoats by protecting the area of Lake Champlain and the land leading to Albany.

The Continentals had to do two things, they had to build a fleet of ships to protect the Lake and to strengthen the Forts (Crown Point and Ticonderoga) at the lower part of the Lake.  The problems for the Commanders who were sent to protect this area was also two fold, they had to train a volunteer militia to fight professional soldiers (including a contingent of Hessians) and to build a fleet of ships.Though training was initiated, it takes time to teach regular citizens to be soldiers, especially to stand fast against an experienced attacking force.

Without any armed ships available to the proposed Navy, not to mentions shipwrights and experienced officers and sailors, Benedict Arnold had to create a force from scratch.  It doesn't seem that difficult to get warships built but you have to know how they will react to the stress of the firing of cannon and to take hits from cannonballs.  This put Arnold and his fellow officers at a big advantage to start.  Also you don't learn how to climb rigging and swing around sails and such in a short period of time, especially when they are under the command of non-naval officers.  

Arnold chose to meet the superior British fleet at a point in the Lake where the width of the water narrowed and gave the defenders a chance to receive the British Ships in an area that limited their ability to maneuver.  Arnold biggest problem once he was on the water, was that his land based artillery had to learn to fire their cannons from a moving, rocking platform.  It's hard to aim a cannon when the ship is rocking side to side and up and down on the waves.  The British sailors were all experienced hands at this type of warfare.

Using a brilliant strategy, that even surprised the British, Arnold was able to give almost as good as he got (though losing a large part of his ships), the Americans had time to receive war material and extra soldiers with which to defend the southern part of the Lake and Fort Ticonderoga.  Should the Continentals lose the fort, the whole Hudson River valley would be open to attack.  Almost single handedly, Arnold held his Navy together and saved the United Colonies from being split in half.
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Before reading this book, my knowledge of Benedict Arnold was that he attempted to betray the United States during the Revolutionary War. I did not have knowledge of his courageous exploits for the colonists before the war.

The book begins several months before the battle and details the preparations and the challenges of preparing for an inevitable British assault. Arnold did not expect this to take place before Autumn, and his goal was to prevent the British from gaining control of the northern lakes waterways , which would have provided him northern access into America. He knew it was strategically important to force them to have to winter in Canada and chose to fight the naval battle on Lake Champlain near Valcour Island. Arnold commanded a lesser naval force with mostly untested sailors, and his years of maritime experience would hold the key to whether or not he had a chance to stop the enemy navy.

Much of the time if felt like author Jack Kelly crafted the book to sound more like a thrilling war novel rather than a part of history. Even so, his research of documents, letters, and other important items provide the necessary historical facts to also make this book a great source for those interested in history. His description of the battle on Lake Champlain prompted me to check out maps online, enabling me to follow the events as they traveled south past Crown Point and on to Fort Ticonderoga. Learning the facts about Benedict Arnold provided me with an entirely different view of the man. Highly recommended. Five stars.  

My thanks to NetGalley and St. martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.
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This was an engaging work of non-fiction about the Revolutionary War, more specifically the battle to stop British troops from marching down into New York from Canada. There was a large naval battle on Lake Champlain that I had been unaware of prior to reading this book. The book also features many of the heroic actions Benedict Arnold took while he was firmly on the the side of the Patriots.

I'd recommend this to readers who are interested in learning more about the early days of a the Revolutionary War in a geographical area not usually featured much in the history books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher via NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
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A thorough look at the development of the US naval operations during the Revolutionary War.  This is an in-depth look at the heroic Americans that played key roles in the formation of the country - from Arnold (pre-traitor and explanations as to why that occurred), Washington, Schuyler and ,any more. It’s a tale of difficulties and challenges, but also those moments in which true inspiration comes to lead the charge to freedom.
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I would like to thank St Martin's Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book and give an honest opinion. This is a time frame I have always been curious about, especially because of the musical Hamilton. This book was fascinating and made you feel that you were actually in the American Revolution. It was a meaty and descriptive book and I am glad that I read it.
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Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty by Jack Kelly is a look into the little known battle which helped continue the Revolution. At the front, Benedict Arnold, a man who fought with valor and courage, before he became known as the traitor to the American cause. During the summer of 1776, a British incursion in the north from Canada loomed. In response, a heroic defense was mounted. Under the direction of Philip Schuyler, underrated general and Alexander Hamilton’s future father-in-law, Horatio Gates, an ambitious former British officer, and the notorious Benedict Arnold, the Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York. As an experienced sea captain, Arnold was able to devise a strategy that confounded their overconfident opponents. They would confront the full might of the British Royal Navy in a three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort surprised the arrogant British, who were forced to call off their invasion. At the core of Valcour is the story of people. In the early days of the Revolutionary War, the Patriots endured one defeat after another, with America’s Independence hanging in the balance. Two events would help turn the tide: Washington’s bold attack on Trenton on December 26, 1776 and the Battle of Valcour Island on October 11, 1776.  
I love history, especially American history. So when I got the opportunity to read about the Battle of Valcour Island, a battle I knew nothing about, I jumped at the chance. Jack Kelly weaves a history account that is as wild and suspenseful as the American wilderness that flowed and captivates as you read about the crucial and least known campaign when the scrappy navy of the young nation took on the British and their mighty sea power. I loved learning more about Benedict Arnold before he became the infamous traitor we all know him as. Mr Kelly describes him as a paradox of history as the reasons for his decision to betray his nation have been left up to debate and conjecture. Although Mr Kelly does present situations and attitudes that would certainly have contributed to Arnold’s turn. I also enjoyed hearing about the place names which memorialize the battle’s events and keep the memory alive of this important event. I also enjoyed and was humbled by the stories of the men who fought the battle, whose names don’t appear in the history books. Without their sacrifice and courage under almost certain failure, the fight for American Independence would have ended before it truly began. I highly recommend Valcour, an excellent account of the crucial battle. 

Valcour: the 1776 Campaign that Saved the Cause of Liberty is available in hardcover, eBook and audiobook.
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Intriguing read about an important, yet relatively unknown piece of American history. Most readers will recognize one of the central figures of this book, Benedict Arnold, and avid historians will likely gain a greater knowledge of the American Revolution upon completion of reading this book.
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So much was never taught in my American History classes. Such a shame, too. I had no idea of our interaction with Canada and that the event was led by Benedict Arnold. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for offering me the chance to fill in a big gap in my education.
In school we learned the basics about 1776 and how Benedict Arnold was a traitor. This missing piece was a great read. If Arnold hadn't had the genius to figure out how to get the upper hand on the British when he was outgunned, outmanned and commanding a small fleet our revolution would have been ended then and there. Books as well written as Valcour bring history alive and it was more than the military aspect of this moment in history that hooked me, it was the authors ability to bring the people's voices alive.
Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This was an interesting take on the war for independence. This book covers a lesser known conflict in Canada involving Benedict Arnold that I hadn't know much about going into the book and that's exactly why I enjoyed this read. The writing was entertaining and kept me sucked in and I walked away with a new understanding of Arnold.

I usually only hear about Benedict Arnold due to the traitor aspects of him, bit this book helped me understand why he was such an important figure due to his brilliant military strategy. The book explores the path that led to him becoming a traitor that made me more sympathetic to him than I expected to be. Highly recommend this for anyone interested in Benedict Arnold and the battle fought on Lake Champlain.

Disclaimer: I received an arc from the publisher in return for an honest review.
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Really interesting book about a battle a piece of history I knew nothing about.I was fascinated by this time in history very well written very interesting.#netgalley #st.martinsbooks
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I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Until now, little known events turned the tide of the Revolutionary war. With the ease of a story teller, the author shares the account of this battle for independence; the players and the skirmishes, the military insights and the behind-the-scenes drama on both sides. Well written and informative.
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This book explores a part of American history I did not know.  Valcour Island on Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York was the stage for the ‘United States’ first naval battle.  Although the force, led by Benedict Arnold, was defeated, it was an important step in the fight for freedom. I think those who enjoy American History, military history will find this informative and engaging.
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Valcour is a fantastic telling of a lesser known and incredibly important Revolutionary War battle and the events surrounding it. I loved the very story-like way that the history was told, drawn heavily from first-person accounts and covering the perspectives of both the Americans and the British. From the beginning, I found it very engaging and I was genuinely fascinated by the history.
Hanging over the story is also the legacy of Benedict Arnold in particular, most notoriously known for being a traitor who shifted over to the British side during the war. Jack Kelly's handling of this is so well done, highlighting Arnold's triumphs amidst the knowledge that his actions later on would forever tarnish his name. I appreciated Kelly's efforts at complicating the narrative around Arnold, as well as around the figures of Horatio Gates and Phillip Schuyler, giving them due credit for their wartime efforts surrounding this battle and the ways in which the success of this effort helped save the revolutionary cause. For those looking for a really interesting and nuanced look at an often overlooked but deeply important part of the history of the Revolutionary War, I highly recommend this book!
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I selected this book from NetGalley in hopes of getting a better picture of Benedict Arnold than was taught when I was a kid (he was basically Evil McEvilness) or the revisionary version I encountered in late years as reaction to all that flag-waving rah rah of the fifties, in which pretty much everyone, including Washington, was depicted as an opportunistic scumbag.

I wanted an even-handed account, so that I could understand his motivations for his shift in sides. Though I’ve learned from other books that changing sides (sometimes two or three or five times) during the Revolutionary War was not unheard of at all. But this was a very high profile case, and came at a time that especially hurt.

The main focus of the book is on three people, though the author takes plenty of time to flesh out other figures of the time and place—revolutionaries, British and Native Americans, commanders and commoners. 

The three are Horatio Gates, the commander who turned a disparate bunch of farmers and artisans into an effective army; Philip Schuyler, who served as a sort of task force engineer in putting together vessels for the water battle, and of course Benedict Arnold, who proved to be a smart, courageous, if impatient and arrogant commander on both land and water.

The actual battle does not commence until halfway through the book, permitting the author to build a vivid, excellent picture of the situation, the emotions, the motivations, and of course the cost.

I not only got what I asked for—a basic understanding of what led Arnold from Point A to Point B (and its cost) but I got the benefit of a vivid, well-paced book that lays out clearly the strategy and tactics of the period, without sacrificing interest.
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What an eye opener for the reader!  Well researched and informative, especially for those lovers of history.  Never having heard of the battle of Valcour and ignorant of the importance of Lake Champlain and Ticonderoga I eagerly read this well written account.  Jack Kelly’s writing style is easy to read .  The brutal battle at Valcour came to life within the pages of this read as did the heroic efforts of so many patriots.  Sad to realize that politicians had the power, even in the 1770’s to make or break the careers of so many of the brave men fighting the British for our independence.  I honestly did not know much about Benedict Arnold.  One particular quote really hit home with me.  
“Do their flaws erase their greatness?  Can we honor their achievements while at the same time condemning their treachery?”
Many many thanks to Jack Kelly, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to read an arc of this engaging account of the buildup, battle, and aftermath of the important 1776 campaign.
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Valcour by Jack Kelly gives a bit of history just prior to their independence from the UK. The notorious Benedict Arnold,  Phillip Schyler (Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law) and Horacio Gates try to invade Canada through northern New York around Valcour Island. This is a battle mostly left unheard in the history books.  While they were mostly defeated, George Washington’s attack on Trenton and the battle of Valcour Island turns the tide for independence.
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy of this historic book.
#Netgalley #StMartinsPress #Valcour
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