God Save Benedict Arnold
The True Story of America's Most Hated Man
by Jack Kelly
You must sign in to see if this title is available for request. Sign In or Register Now
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add firstname.lastname@example.org as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 05 Dec 2023 | Archive Date 19 Dec 2023
"A dazzling addition to the history of the American Revolution." ―Kirkus Review (starred)
"Finally... a full and fascinating portrait of a true hero of the American Revolution, until he was visited by villainy. A riveting read." ―Tom Clavin, New York Times bestselling author of Follow Me to Hell
Benedict Arnold committed treason— for more than two centuries, that’s all that most Americans have known about him.
Yet Arnold was much more than a turncoat—his achievements during the early years of the Revolutionary War defined him as the most successful soldier of the era. GOD SAVE BENEDICT ARNOLD tells the gripping story of Arnold’s rush of audacious feats—his capture of Fort Ticonderoga, his Maine mountain expedition to attack Quebec, the famous artillery brawl at Valcour Island, the turning-point battle at Saratoga—that laid the groundwork for our independence.
Arnold was a superb leader, a brilliant tactician, a supremely courageous military officer. He was also imperfect, disloyal, villainous. One of the most paradoxical characters in American history, and one of the most interesting. GOD SAVE BENEDICT ARNOLD does not exonerate him for his treason—the stain on his character is permanent. But Kelly’s insightful exploration of Arnold’s career as a warrior shines a new light on this gutsy, fearless, and enigmatic figure. In the process, the book offers a fresh perspective on the reasons for Arnold’s momentous change of heart.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 46 members
A very intriguing look at the enigma that was Benedict Arnold. The author does an outstanding job of telling the complete story from the time of his growing up, through the revolutionary war and his ultimate betrayal of the United States. The story provides an in-depth perspective of the political misdeeds and backstabbing that took place among the members of the continental congress against the military during the war. The book offers a valid and compelling explanation of why Benedict Arnold betrayed his country. Overall, a great read.
Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Benedict Arnold: It is a name that is immediately recognizable to most in the U.S. If you were to poll people about what they know about him, most would probably immediately describe him as a traitor and would hopefully also realize that the historic moment he was affiliated with was the American Revolution. Beyond that scratch on the surface of history, probably most people would come up blank with anything else to share about Benedict Arnold.
God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America’s Most Hated Man certainly has the title right. About a century and a half since Arnold’s time, we may not know much, but we know he should be hated for his betrayal during the infancy of the American experiment. What a way to go down in history, remembered for a dark moment in a full life. Jack Kelly seeks to open his reader’s eyes to the man behind the story, to add long-forgotten nuance and context to the tale, and provide long overdue recognition for heroic efforts Arnold displayed time-and-time again before his fateful decision to abscond to Britain.
Benedict Arnold was the fourth thus-named individual in his family tree, and he would father the man who would be the last to bear the name, a son who died in his late twenties after an injury, predeceasing his father by about six years. The fate and fortune of the family changed over the course of the generations. The earlier Benedict Arnolds were well off, the first of whom was governor of Rhode Island. By the time of the 3rd generation (the father to our subject), the family was established in the Colonial America society. Unfortunately, Arnold’s father lost much of the family fortune amidst alcoholism so by the time Arnold was a teenager, his circumstances had changed for the worst. Arnold joined the fight in the French and Indian War and then was able to leverage family connections to establish himself as a merchant. He spent time at sea, often commanding his own ships, an experience that established a specific type of leadership that probably also matched Arnold’s natural proclivities. As a result of the salty language typical of sailors, others in polite society found Arnold a bit vulgar compared to his contemporaries.
Kelly’s story really picks up steam in the dawn of the American Revolution, a moment that was uniquely shaped to Arnold’s strengths. His decisiveness in difficult situations and ability to lead men through horrific settings while near starvation are skills that in another time and another place would never have been evident. It is clear that Arnold thrived in situations of risk, moments ready-made for valor, and had a keen strategic sense. He played a pivotal role at Ticonderoga in upstate New York, leading a group to take the fort from the British. Arnold knew the fort was not heavily protected in the early days of the war and saw this prime opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the colonists. With nary a shot fired, Arnold and Ethan Allen’s troops took the fort.
From there, the momentum took Arnold up into Canada to Fort St Jean and then he encouraged his government to invest in building ships on Lake Champlain. He eventually met the British in a battle on the Great Lake and through cunning was able to stand his ground more than expected before a nighttime escape under the cover of darkness that saved countless lives.
Arnold’s strong personality and convictions became clear early in the military conflict. He had disagreements with his peers and with the government. These conflicts established what would continue to be an ongoing challenge over the course of Arnold’s life. Over time, a combination of disputes with individuals, who made formalized complaints about Arnold, and the politicization of military promotions in Congress, where non-soldiers made academic decisions about how to promote military leadership, created a perfect storm of dissatisfaction for Arnold. He was passed over for promotion several times. To add salt to the wound, people junior to him were promoted beyond his rank. Arnold was not shy in explaining his displeasure and contacted Congress for reconsideration.
Over time, Arnold became frustrated enough with what amounted to a lack of appreciation for his efforts that he even tried to and in fact did resign from the military. But every time he did that, a new conflict would emerge, and he would run off - title, rank, or standing be damned - to display continued heroism in the war effort.
Kelly explores several historic assumptions about Arnold’s defection, including the fact that he was motivated by money, and calls some of these into question when viewed against the larger backdrop of Arnold’s life and deeds. He also offers several thoughts on what may have been motivators for Arnold. And it is of course clear that no one other than the man himself will ever know what drove his thinking. In my read of it, Arnold seems like a man who more than anything else needs to be needed - whether by the women he sought to romance, by his soldiers, or by his country - and the early Americans definitely came up short in meeting Arnold halfway.
What I also really appreciated is how Kelly explored Arnold’s lasting negative legacy compared to others who could be comparable types of traitors, depending upon one’s vantage point. For example, several high profile Americans joined the American South at the start of the Civil War and were welcomed back in to the country afterwards. As it was, the British never fully embraced Arnold either. Kelly’s point is well taken when he indicates but for the random chance of time and circumstances, America could just as easily ended up with a situation where Arnold was remembered as a true patriotic hero with God Save Benedict Arnold on our lips instead of a sullied name.
Kelly set out to establish Benedict Arnold as a well-rounded, complex person instead of the archetype associated with his name. He was successful in leveraging tales from Arnold’s life - both military and non-military - to bring a clearer picture of the man. God Save Benedict Arnold is an important addition to the way we need to continue to evaluate history through updated thinking and knowledge. It is so easy for people to forget that historic people were truly just as human as any of us - with their own baggage, concerns, personal loss, and family histories that shape them as they meet the world events that happen to occur during their lives.
God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America's Most Hated Man by Jack Kelly is an excellent nonfiction that takes an in-depth look at the notorious, complex, and yet fascinating historical figure.
I have read quite a bit about the Revolutionary War, but to focus on Benedict Arnold, his life, the role that he played in history, and the choices he made…was really quite eye-opening.
I have enjoyed Mr. Kelly in the past, and this book did not disappoint. It was easy to understand, paced well, and the way it was presented really made it enjoyable to learn while I relaxed. I highly recommend.
Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 12/5/23.
This was a really interesting history nonfiction book, I enjoyed getting to learn about the person that is Benedict Arnold. Jack Kelly has a great writing style and it worked well in this book. It gave a good look into his life, I enjoyed what I read and thought this worked well in keeping people invested.
"Two possibilities: stay and fight or retreat toward the forts. If they stayed, the enemy’s superior firepower might destroy the fleet. If they ran, the faster British ships might chase them down. If they stayed, they might hold off the enemy and eke out more days of delay. If they ran, they might make it to Ticonderoga where they could support the fort from the water."
An interesting book from which I learned a lot. Well researched and in depth.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
Enjoyed this books. I didn’t not get all the way through it so I will be purchasing it when it comes out.
God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America's Most Hated Man gives an interesting insight on this historical figure. Four stars.
God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America’s Most Hated Man
Author Jack Kelly analyzes Benedict Arnold’s character and personality in an effort to not excuse his actions but to examine the man. While we may hate Arnold’s betrayal and treason, we can take an unbiased look at him. He was an excellent leader and a daring military officer. Benedict Arnold was a contradiction. Author Jack Kelly shares Arnold’s background including his childhood; he discusses the war and Arnold’s traitorous actions. Kelly shows the actions of the Continental Congress and how they were not as united as I had always believed they were.
"God Save Benedict Arnold" by Jack Kelly is not only a first-rate biography of the heroic Revolutionary War American General who ended his service by betraying his country, it is also a fascinating history of the engagements in which Arnold was involved.
Through Kelly’s descriptions of Arnold’s daredevil, danger-loving childhood, his brief militia service in the French and Indian War, his adventurous life at sea as a merchant/trader, and his leadership of a Connecticut militia unit that immediately marched to Cambridge, MA upon hearing of Lexington and Concord, we get to know something of the arrogant, contentious, heroic, and inspiring young man. It’s when he reaches Cambridge that his military career takes off. The Americans need cannons and Arnold knows where they can be had: at New York's Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga. Appointed Colonel of a Massachusetts regiment, he leads six hundred men into New York and, along with Ethan Allen, captures the vital artillery.
Mr. Kelly goes on to write of Arnold’s bravery and extraordinary leadership during a march into Canada and in actions at Quebec, Valcour Island/Lake Champlain, Ridgefield, Fort Stanwix, and Saratoga, to mention a few. These battles were so well described that I could almost feel the winter cold at Quebec and smell the gunpowder smoke and the blood of the wounded at Saratoga.
Mr. Kelly fully discusses Arnold’s treason and offers a number of possible reasons as to why Arnold might have “turned his coat” to become a British general and fight against the men he once led.
He concludes by describing Arnold’s somewhat unhappy post-war life with his family in London--where he was admired by some but avoided by others--and Canada, where he was roundly disliked, occasioning his return to London where he died.
Throughout America’s history, Benedict Arnold has been so detested and reviled for his treason that it’s all anyone thinks of upon hearing his name (which has become an eponym for disloyalty). While Mr. Kelly in no way excuses that treason, he does manage to bring Benedict Arnold to life as a very talented, brave, and charismatic leader who, despite his perfidy, made a significant contribution to the American war effort.
Jack Kelly has a way of making history into a story and the story of Benedict Arnold is as compelling as any.
I must admit, I am an avid Revolutionary War fan and have read and listened to a lot of media about the era. Besides some information about his life after the Revolution, this book didn’t offer me anything I didn’t already know. However, it made a story of the events while tying in just enough background information to help someone who may not be as well versed. That being said, I found the chapters somewhat non-cohesive as they often started with an event to then went to a flashback to lead up that event. It was fine for me but I could see it being somewhat confusing for someone who just picked up the title.
But as with Valcour, his previous Benedict Arnold focused book, Kelly offers an amazing epilogue. Honestly, reading the book was worth it for the epilogue. It offers thought provoking sentiments that explores the complexities of how we understand Benedict Arnold today.
I will certainly be keeping a look out for whatever Jack Kelly writes next.
God Save Benedict Arnold
By Jack Kelly
This book – and its predecessor "Valcour" – offer a picture of Benedict Arnold which most people know nothing about. To the majority of Americans, Mr. Arnold is a one dimensional figure who is remembered only as a traitor to the cause of the American Revolution.
"Valcour" tells the tale of the early days of the war and Benedict Arnold's heroic actions, which stopped the British from seizing Lake Champlain and the Hudson River – and almost certainly ending the war before it could gain momentum. Arnold, prior to the war, had captained ships at sea and at Valcour proved himself an able and daring seaman.
This book is much more expansive in its telling of Arnold's exploits, his friendship with George Washington, his fearlessness under fire and his great skill as a strategist in battle. But it also tells of his thin skin and his constantly looking to find personal insult which left him disgruntled. He had as many enemies as friends. He was a complex man. And he was only human.
Mr. Kelly has obviously researched well the life and motivations of Benedict Arnold. He does not write as an apologist for Arnold, but simply as a historian attempting to understand why Arnold did what he did. While no clear answer will ever be known, Mr. Kelly presents a Benedict Arnold who was more than just a traitor.
Benedict Arnold is a traitor and that's it. That's all we were taught. But this book shows him to be a more complicated man and may even persuade you that he wasn't evil and he was pushed into his decision by less talented commanders who kept him down. Maybe.
An even-handed and very detailed account of Armold's activities on behalf of The Colonies in the early years of the War for Independence. Kelly really brings to life both the difficulties of Arnold's advances and battles and of the violence and bloodshed in that war. What is not clear are Arnold's reasons for betraying his country and going to the British side. The author posits several explanations, but the real reasons are not known.
The book is an excellent in-depth account of Arnold's career.
A very nuanced look at a complex man and time period. I found the book a fair representation of events. While dry in some parts, overall a good book.
An interesting re-analysis of an often reviled figure in American history. The events aren't new here, but the interpretation is. Recommended for those willing to challenge what they think they know.
I have now completed my read of Jack Kelly's "God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of Americas Most Hated Man", published and graciously provided to me in the form of an ARC by St. Martin's Press. It is an enjoyable and well written examination of the life of Benedict Arnold, particularly as it intersected events during the Revolution of the 13 Colonies against Great Britain. Many, if not most, Americans would easily name Benedict Arnold as the most famous traitor in American history, but this book is concerned with contextualizing (not justifying) Arnold's well known and often explored treason against the backdrop of his truly remarkable military career. His almost intuitive grasp of military affairs combined with his understanding of and ability to work with colonial militia formations distinguished him from many of Washington's commanders, who were often quick to draw comparisons between the oft maligned combat record of colonial militias and their better trained and disciplined Continental line regiments. Kelly's narrative particularly distinguishes itself as he recounts the details of battles from Canada and Fort Ticonderoga to Saratoga, and it is his here that his narrative really takes off. What emerges from all of this is a kind of American Achilles, brave and skilled, but petulant and conceited, often more focused on his own reputation rather than the broader implications of his behavior. I think the book belongs in any public library and in the public schools. There is much to be learned from Benedict Arnold, both his career and his fall from grace, and Kelly's writing style should lend itself to YA attention; the text is accessible and the exposition is often thought provoking while possessing an almost cinematic quality.
One of the great might-have-been issues in history is the American conquest of Canada. I don't know if there is, right now, an invasion plan sitting in a disused file cabinet of the Pentagon for such thing. WAR PLAN: MAPLE SYRUP ALPHA, something like that. I mean, you never know.
It's probably not possible today. I mean, you'd like to think the American military could make short work of the Canadians, but then you'd have to have an extended occupation, teaching 38 million people that a proper football field is 100 yards, how market-based competition can lower health-care costs, and how to spell "defense" and all of that other stuff you'd have to do. But it could have been done earlier in our shared histories, and was tried, although never successfully.
The spine of Jack Kelly's GOD SAVE BENEDICT ARNOLD is one of the more whimsical attempts to conquer the Great White North, with Benedict Arnold leading a force of New England patriots and Virginia backwoodsmen across the Maine wilderness to invest Quebec City. I just looked that up on Google Maps, and that's a seven-hour drive up I-95, and I can't imagine driving that far, much less walking it, much less doing so when Maine was basically uninhabited. It was a hare-brained scheme, and any normal average person would have chosen any of a hundred opportunities to quit and turn back the other way and put their feet up and read a nice book and drink some hot chocolate. (Actually, it's raining now where I live in New Jersey and that sounds like a plan once I finish writing this here review.)
Benedict Arnold was not a normal person. He led the remnant of his ragged, hurricane-battered force all the way to the Plains of Abraham, only to be foiled by the quick thinking of a Redcoat officer who somehow intuited that the rebels might try such a thing. And you can look at that and say "heroism," and you wouldn't maybe be that far wrong, but maybe more of it is that Benedict Arnold was a stubborn Puritan son-of-a-gun who wanted to get in a scrap and would walk all the way across New England to get in one.
Kelly's thesis is twofold: that Benedict Arnold was a fighting man, a canny strategist and a charismatic leader, capable and dogged; and also that he was a touchy, thin-skinned insubordinate egomaniac who couldn't stop himself from running his mouth and getting into trouble. We remember Arnold for his treason, Kelly argues, but there was a lot that happened before the treason that resounds to Arnold's eternal credit. (You might think we also remember Arnold for Eggs Benedict, but that was some other fellow.)
Would we remember Arnold fondly if he had not turned traitor? Likely not. His early seizure of Fort Ticonderoga was important, the Quebec campaign was a slow-motion disaster, but he helped to turn the tide at Lake Champlain and fought bravely at Saratoga. In a country where 90% of the people can't name a sitting Supreme Court justice, maybe that makes the grade, maybe it doesn't. Kelly makes the point that maybe it should, that Arnold was a complicated man fighting in a cause for which he had already turned traitor. However you come down on the issue, this is an excellent read and illuminates some dark corners of the Revolution.
Well written and researched book. We’ve all heard of Benedict Arnold’s treason, but we forget that prior to that he was George Washington’s best fighting general. He was the General Patton of his day, playing a major role in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the assault on Quebec and was the hero of the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the war. Even less known is that he was a very capable ship’s captain and led a small fleet in a daring engagement against the British navy in the Great Lakes. The author’s description of battlefield action is outstanding and reads like a novel. After all of that, Arnold’s treachery is very hard to understand, but I think this author has probably the best explanation. If there is any complaint it is the several times that the author breaks from his chronology to jump back in time. I found this to be a bit confusing and felt it was unnecessary. Overall this was a fascinating look at one of the most controversial figures in American history. I recommend this to anyone interested in the American Revolution. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read this advance copy in exchange for a review.
This book does a fantastic job of showcasing the military prowess and accomplishments of Benedict Arnold. It also delves into the choices and reactions that Arnold made when faced with adversity. This is a fascinating study into character. One can be as talented and fortunate to achieve victories in the face of overwhelming odds just as Arnold did when battling and beating the British in several engagements in Canada and New England during the American Revolutionary war. However, his inability to accept that others may make decisions that impact his life and his own insecurity about his capabilities when compared to others often led to rash decisions that put him at odds with those who were championing his contribution.
He had several interactions with George Washington and other military leaders which seriously impacted his advancement all because he misinterpreted their motives when looking through his own lens of insecurity. In the end, his decisions could only lead to one ending.
Jack Kelly did a wonderful job of detailing the meticulous nature of warfare in the 18th century and how Benedict Arnold played a role. Kelly's well researched book gives a view into a complex but ultimately deeply flawed and insecure man that most casual observers have missed. For the majority of Americans, Arnold is a traitor and his name has become synonymous with being a traitor. However, Kelly shows us that there was so much more to this than a simple betrayal.
The most telling statement that will stay with me is that had Arnold died due to his wounds from battle, he would have been lauded as one of the biggest military heroes of the time. However, his later actions, due to his need for fame or money or respect, completely covers his earlier contributions to the American effort during the Revolution.
I found this to be an intriguing book and a very readable account of a time that most Americans have a difficult time imagining.
Thank you to Macmillan for providing me an opportunity to review this.
A very well-wriitwn biography on Benedict Arnold. It's going to read like a history book because that's what it is. There's going to be very little dialogue but there's a lot of historical details to get to Benedict Arnold and his life.
Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC
Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Benedict Arnold was a soldier. He loved his family. He was a man who committed crimes against the United States. He had few morals. This book was very insightful.
God Save Benedict Arnold by Jack Kelly is an exciting book! This book was written so well that not one time did it feel like someone just plainly stating facts. The story was continually progressing and kept very alive and interesting throughout.
I enjoyed this and found it to be clear, informative, and not overloaded in details.
Kelly did an outstanding job here.
"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
Thank You NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
Benedict Arnold was a hot head who acted upon emotion and not logic. He desperately needed recognition and would literally risk life and limb to get it. That is the first important thing for you to learn. Second, is that time and retelling change the public perception of personalities and events. An example other than Arnold is that Ethan Allen has long been perceived as a patriotic hero. Instead, contemporaneous writings indicate that he was self-promoting and coarse. (Note: It appears that some of my ancestors married into some of his descendants so I have no reason to slam him other than what appears in the written record. I am so disappointed.) This author endeavors to "set the record straight" by giving us a look at Arnold the man as well as others around him. In doing so the reader can judge for themselves whether Arnold was a villain, a hero, or a tortured combination of both. I am going with the last.
Arnold's exploits are very clearly related; he was an amazing military man, very clever, and very brave. He put everything on the line, losing his fortune, his business, and having his wife die while he was gone. And in return the Continental Congress refused to recognize how much we benefitted from his hard work and ability to construct brilliant military strategy. If they hadn't so incredibly stingy with reimbursements and praise, I am certain history would have been radically different.
The book is heavy on historical detail, mostly that which has never been taught in the U.S. public schools. It is well-supported with footnotes and sources. There is a great deal of very specific information that I did not know about the Revolutionary War, and was happy to learn. For example, I had no idea that the first Continental Congress wanted to give back captured arms and fortresses when relations would be normalized between the colonies and Great Britain. I found it very interesting that our Founding Fathers didn't have the taste for war that has somehow been written into the narrative of the beginnings of our country. Instead of being war hawks, or even determined to prevail in all of our issues, they seemed to want to put everything back where it had been and continue to be a colony.
The author noted that King George scoffed at the notion of reconciliation with the colonies and that he declared them to be in rebellion. Ok, but he was a constitutional monarch by that time, as I understand it. The King could declare what he wanted but it was Parliament that needed to declare war.
I really disliked the footnoting in the edition I had and hope it is fixed in the final published version. The sentence needing a citation would start, and the footnote would be at the end of the first word, not at the end of the sentence. It arrested your fluent reading of what was written. I've never seen that before in a career that included law school, writing draft opinions on behalf of a judge I worked for, and many years of legal practice. It's really annoying. Also, the links in the edition I was provided did not work both ways; if you followed the link to the citation, you were dumped in no-man's land and had to go to the beginning of the entire text and page in. That has to be corrected in the print copy.
I definitely can recommend this book as being very interesting and enlightening. Thank you to Jack Kelly, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for providing me with a pre-publication copy to read and review. My opinions are my own and I received nothing in return for my review.
I consider myself a bit of a history buff, and enjoy reading just about anything I can about the Revolutionary War, and I can definitely say I learned a lot of things about Benedict Arnold that I didn't know before I read this book. I knew that he wasn't always a traitor, but I really enjoyed learning about how involved he was in many of the victories that helped us win our independence from the British, and how, had he been given the recognition he felt he was due, things may have turned out very differently for him. I enjoyed Jack Kelly's writing style very much, and think that added to how quickly I was able to read what was quite an in depth look into Benedict Arnold's life, both professional and personal.
Highly recommend - 5/5 stars.
*** I would like to thank NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Jack Kelly for the opportunity to read God Save Benedict Arnold.
Benedict Arnold was one of my favorite characters when I was teaching. As my students began to see patterns in how history is written to favors the "winners," his was the perfect example of how an American hero quickly became the villain. But Arnold's story is so much more complex than simply being a traitor.
Jack Kelley's God Save Benedict Arnold is a wonderfully researched and lyrical narrative of this man's life. It's highly accessible to anyone and gives a complete and fair assessment of him. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially to fellow American history teachers and students of the subject.
Special thanks to St. Martin's Press for giving me the opportunity to read an early copy of this book in exchange for a review through NetGalley.
In the vein of the current trend of telling a story from the villain’s perspective, Jack Kelly takes on the nonfiction account of America’s most notorious villain, the traitor, Benedict Arnold. And just like fictional retellings, real life proves just as complicated. Arnold, like all people, had his weaknesses. Readers will quickly pick up on his thin skin and desire to be respected and perceived as genteel. His tendency to butt heads with important people and lack of charisma (along with being a self made man lacking the right connections) likely set him down a contentious path with the Continental Congress, who was in charge of military promotions, not George Washington. Being denied promotion and having subordinates promoted over him would have been a blow to any person’s pride, but for someone with his personality it was likely crushing. This book is a great reminder of everything he was involved in to support the patriots before his betrayal. I will admit that the transition from patriot to traitor feels abrupt in this book, and I wonder if that is because so little documentation exists of his thoughts that there may be no way to ever know how abrupt or gradual his decision was. With as ardent a supporter of the cause as Arnold was initially, it couldn’t help but lead me to wonder what would have happened if someone like George Washington had been dismissed the way Arnold was despite his achievements. The two men got along very well before Arnold defected. Or what if Arnold had received the accolades he deserved for his accomplishments early during the war? Or if he hadn’t of been severely injured and put in a state of idleness and a location that might have pushed him over the edge for the attention he sought. Reading history books is great, but reading ones that prompt you to imagine an alternate path of history itself are even better. I really enjoyed reading the story of the notorious and perhaps misunderstood Benedict Arnold. A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
God Save Benedict Arnold by Jack Kelly was received directly from the publisher and I chose to review it. I had not knowingly read this author before but history books or historical fiction books, I will always read. Benedict Arnold almost every American can tell you was a "traitor." most do not know why or when but we all know the name. This book tells the whole story of Benedict, before, during, and after his treasonous act(s). The author's writing style does not get boring either, things are written that sound interesting, and they do not bog down in minutae. If you, or someone you buy gifts for enjoys books about historical figures, give this one a read.
My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advance copy of this look at the actions of one of America's first traitors, the actions that made him a hero of the Revolution and the dark thoughts that made him a villain for all time.
There is an acronym used by American intelligence to explain the motivations of why one would want to spy or become a traitor to one's home country. M. I. C. E. Money, Ideology, Coercion or Compromise, and finally Ego. When one looks at the current political landscape, and the news at night one can see how this is really a great summation of why people turn. Money makes the world go round, ideology can change with age, a strong supporter can see the cracks in belief as one gets older. Coercion and compromise can mean many things from threats to occupation, life or even family. Ego though. That's has brought down many a person, especially if one is always looking for slights, and dents to their self-esteem. Thinking one is the smartest, the bestest, the mega-something, makes one easy to fool if someone toadies up to them just right. Ego makes on feel they are bigger than loyalty, and loyalty is easily thrown away, for a very small price. Benedict Arnold was once a hero of the burgeoning Revolution, until his faults made his name synonymous with being a traitor. The truth as usual is quite complicated. Historian and author Jack Kelly in God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America's Most Hated Man looks at the Arnold as a man who have gone down in history as a hero, but Arnold's inability to handle the slings and arrows of those he considered lesser people let him down a much darker path.
Benedict Arnold was born in a family that had a name and some prominence, but trouble was soon to ruin this idyllic life. As Arnold was learning to be a gentleman, the family suffered a series of deaths in the family, that drove Arnold's father to drink, and lose the family's fortune. Arnold soon had to give up schooling, and his dreams of college, something that bothered him the rest of his life, and begin an apprenticeship. Arnold was a hard worker, and a man not afraid to get his hands dirty, working his way up to being a merchant who traveled south to engage in trade, making the best deals he could, and dealing with both outfitting a ship, and a crew that could be sometimes a little rough. At the time of the Revolution, Arnold quickly used his skills to gather a troop of men with plans to go North dealing with forts, and later to seize Canada. Arnold's time as a merchant taught him how to equip men, deal with officers make decisions, and more importantly gather intelligence. Along the way Arnold rubbed some people wrong, wrong enough to spread rumors that would effect his career later. Arnold was a brave soldier, gaining respect for his care with his men, and even catching the eye of George Washington. However, Arnold had another skill, that of making enemies, which combined with an attitude that took any slight as a mortal insult, also hindered his advancement. And dark thoughts began to take hold.
An very good book about a very complicated man. Jack Kelly is very good at describing the man that Arnold was, a hero in many ways. Arnold did enter the war with the best of intentions. However his lack of people skills, and ability to grate on people, combined with his inability to handle any besmirching of his character was his biggest downfall. Seizing forts, building navies, leading troops, paying his men when they weren't being paid, Arnold really was a good leader. However politics is filled with good people, and pople who are not, and many did have gripes with Arnold. Kelly does a very good job of describing both the battles and infighting that Arnold found himself in, why and how he might have turned sides, and the sad life that followed. The writing is very good, exciting and informative, with no passages that seem to drag or slow the story. A very interesting look at a man who betrayed himself before he betrayed his country.
Recommended for history readers especially readers of the Revolutionary War. The battle descriptions along with the politics are very well written and gave a better understanding about Arnold. Also for people who like books on complicated people, and for those who want to understand why people do the things they do. M.I.C.E really does explain quite a bit about human behavior.
The name Benedict Arnold is synonymous with traitor and this book doesn't shy away from that but it does tell more of Arnold's story before his infamous act of betrayal. Well written and researched this book showed how the roll of Benedict Arnold in the American Revolution was central to the effort and his contributions were often overlooked or challenged by his enemies in the ranks as well as congress at the time and certainly after his dishonor. This book is full of contemporary observations by his peers (including George Washington) to bring Arnold to life and show his part in the revolution. Arnold was a courageous leader of men who put a lot of his own honor and treasure into the American cause and this book tells of his part in many pivotal campaigns for the Americans that don't get much attention because if Arnold's thwarted plot to turn West Point over to the British. I received a free ARC of this book from the Publisher.
Benedict Arnold was an extraordinary American patriot, thwarting British counterattacks and playing a crucial role in the victory at Saratoga. After a serious leg injury, his idleness got him into trouble.
Congress did not support the Continental Army and Arnold did not get the recognition he felt he deserved. He acted like a spoiled little boy who didn’t get his way. Before the war, he’d been a pushy, cocky merchant. He was excited by fighting and violence, not the concepts behind the war. No role model, he.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
God Save Benedict Arnold
Written By Jack Kelly
Published By St. Martins Press
Release Date December 05, 2023
As I read this very interesting novel about the most hated man in America, I learned many things that were not taught in school. Things that I believe should have been taught. As a military officer he was brave, courageous, confident, and capable of taking on anyone who stepped in his way of conquering the war. Yet there was one thing that Arnold was accused of that set his path on a course that would change his good name forever.. Treason. Kelly has done an amazing job of researching Arnold and putting it all in words that can be read by many of any age. As I think about the historical events such as the Revolutionary War, I begin to see how America changed and those who helped make it better… well their names will always be synonymous with great things but those who started out great but ultimately made a path for themselves down the wrong road… well they will always be remembered for that one thing that made headlines everywhere. Right or wrong, Benedict Arnold stood firm in his belief that America was the land of the free. This book certainly does not exonerate Arnold for his misdeeds but it does show how he started his career in the military and how revered he once was.
Thank you to NetGalley as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy to read in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.
Benedict Arnold being a traitor who joined the British is always the first thing that comes to mind when I think about him. I had no idea he was such a fascinating man or just how much he did for America before staining his legacy. Reading about all his deeds and misdeeds has given me a new view of the man, a much more nuanced one. If you have any interest in Arnold or the path that led him to treason, then you should pick up this book.
This book starts with Benedict's family life growing up and then dives right into the American Revolution and Arnold's eagerness to fight. Jack Kelly covers Arnold's military career and his decision to abscond, as well as the aftermath and other Americans who also committed similar treason. By the end of the book the author did a great job of setting Arnold up as a complex man who at times was as much a hero as he wound up being a traitor.
This was an absorbing read, impeccably researched, thoughtfully constructed, and impressive in notes and bibliography. The book reached brilliance in the vivid depiction of exactly what it was like to be toiling through rough country in search of the enemy especially in the early years of the revolution, when the forming nation wasn't even certain it wanted to be a nation.
I read this, as it happened, while I was traveling through the very areas Arnold and his troops struggled through. From the train windows, as I crossed the border, I could look out at the beautiful countryside and imagine just how terrible it was to be compounding with that terrain through the heat of summer, and the bitter winters.
I appreciated the plentiful quotations from period sources, and I looked forward to the revelation of "Why?" But we really don't get a why. What Kelly gives us are strong arguments supporting Arnold's decision to jump the fence, but we don't actually have direct evidence for his inner process. It's clear that Kiley went spelunking for clues, and these are on display, but the reader will still have to decide for themselves.
The aftermath, and what Arnold meant as a symbol, and the consequences of his actions--both for himself and for the early republic--are well laid out. Overall, an excellent addition to modern scholarship about the American Revolution.
This is a good biography of one of the most notorious individuals during the history of our country. The author does a good job of covering Arnold’s role during the Revolutionary War. It is more a of cursory coverage of his early life and after he defected to the British compared to the actual war years. Overall a good book.
I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook page.
History comes alive in this biography of one of the most notorious figures in United States History....or perhaps pre-history. All we are ever told is that he was a villainous traitor, but even the details of that have become vague over time.
The colonies were in a state of unrest and dissatisfaction. They felt that King George III, was just imposing too much on and against them. Early on, most of the colonists felt that their disagreements would be mended and life would continue on under British rule. King George scoffed at that, If the colonists wanted war, he would give it to them and put an end to their rebelliousness. They were farmers, it wouldn't take much to bring them back to heel.
Benedict Arnold was a successful owner of his own merchant business. He captain his own trading vessel and traveled to far off ports to negotiate. He was one of the few, early on, who knew that the unrest was destined to be much more. At great risk to himself, he gathered men to enlist in the colonial/Patriot army. He was a brilliant strategist. Decisive and quick to act, he accomplished the capture of a couple British forts, without a shot fired. As time went on, he sacrificed his own wealth and business to push forward the patriot cause towards independence. He felt under-appreciate through all his achievements and sacrifices. The colonial congress overlooked him many times and promoted men below him to higher military ranks and honors. Others took credit for his achievements.
As I read these accounts I could almost understand what lead to his downfall. It finally came to a climax after he received a major injury that left him out of action and able to brood on all the slights he had suffered. The British officers reporting back, after suffering major losses at Arnold's hand, paid him more respect then did most of his own colonial politicians.
Finally, Gen George Washington learned that Arnold, who he viewed as a close friend, was feeding intelligence to the British army. History has claimed it was from greed, the British were going to pay Arnold handsomely for his information and internal undermining of the patriot military locations. After reading this vivid biography, I believe it may be more than that. He seems to have been a very sensitive individual, every slight, perceived or real, was taken deeply and finally festered to the point where he acted out. After all, if it was money he wanted more than anything else, why spend his own in the beginning, leading his business into debt and ruin?
God Save Benedict Arnold by Jack Kelly
I remembered very little about Benedict Arnold from my history classes back oh so long ago. I did remember that he was a traitor and that being a "Benedict Arnold" was a bad thing. Going back this far in my reading was taking me back to history that I was fuzzy on but I'm enjoying history books more and more nowadays and this book has me wanting to learn more about the people and events around the Revolutionary War.
Benedict Arnold was an amazing man in many ways and it does seem his accomplishments were often overlooked or claimed by others. Arnold probably wanted recognition, fame, and glory even more than he wanted wealth but in the end he'd take wealth if he couldn't have the other things. Arnold's success as a solder carried over from one side to the other. He was able to accomplish what others could not during battle. He seemed to have no qualms about risky situations and he was brilliant at leading men into the direst of battles and coming out on top. Strategy in war or business was his forte. Getting along with people, especially those who he thought had slighted him, not so much.
Arnold was resentful and bitter for not getting the recognition he felt he deserved and from this book it does look like, time and time again, he was overlooked and undermined when it came to promotions and rank. Even when Arnold continued to do a great job of leading on the battlefield, he was simmering inside, so when he finally was recognized for what he had done, it was too late. In hindsight, Arnold was a powder keg that was going to blow in some way and blow he did. Nothing can excuse his betrayal of those he had fought for and with and of those he led. Once he went to the other side he was instrumental in killing the very people he had lived among. Did this make him a hero to the other side? No, in the end Arnold was a traitor and despite all of his many accomplishments, Arnold is remembered as a traitor.
I learned about many other men of this time and the bibliography and footnotes in this book are very helpful in leading me to other works that I want to read. Even though I knew how this story ended history-wise, I still enjoyed remembering/learning how we got there. It is a hard read though, as are all books of war, and as usual, it's the common man/woman, as soldiers or as civilians, who seem to take the brunt of war's beatings.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.
Benedict Arnold is still a jerk. However, it is nice to read Jack Kelly's new book to be reminded he was one hell of a battlefield commander. And also impossible to get along with if you spent more than 10 minutes with him.
Kelly's God Save Benedict Arnold is a very good book mostly focused on Arnold's battles on the good side (U-S-A! U-S-A!) before he broke bad. Kelly's writing style is perfect for the subject as the battles feel frenetic even with the outcome long since established. I did appreciate that Kelly didn't overpraise anyone in particular including Arnold. As a self-identified Revolutionary War nerd, I've read many books that fall into hero worship for specific figures at the expense of others. For example, it is very easy to make Horatio Gates look bad at Saratoga but Kelly keeps a balanced view and doesn't attribute otherworldly leadership to Arnold as the battle is won.
This is a great book for anyone who isn't that familiar with the American Revolution or hasn't picked up a book about it since grade school. Kelly keeps the pacing brisk and it's an easy read. If you are more familiar with all the major players, this won't shed a tremendous amount of new light on the events of this time period. It also doesn't spend a tremendous amount of time trying to answer the "why" of Arnold's treachery. This is not a criticism as Kelly is focused on his battlefield prowess. It's a great read.
(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and St. Martin's Press.)
Fascinating. Benedict Arnold has become a punch line, a tag line, a code name but who among us knows who he really was? Well, thank to Kelly, who has done one wallop of a job researching him you'll know that he was so much more than what you might have thought. Kelly's writing is clear and brings Arnold to life. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. The best sort of biography.
4 solid stars for a balanced biography of of Benedict Arnold. Arnold is chiefly remembered as a traitor. This book details his crucial contributions to the American cause prior to turning traitor.
1: He conquered Fort Ticonderoga from the British. Ticonderoga's canons made possible the American victory at Boston.
2 He led the failed expedition through the Maine wilderness to capture Quebec city.
3 . He prevented the British from taking control of Lake Champlain at the battle of Valcour.
4. His leadership at the battle of Saratoga was crucial to the American victory.
Without his leadership, the American Revolution would have been strangled in its infancy
However, his contributions were frequently ignored by the Continental Congress and causing him to be angry and embittered.
One quote, author's description of Benedict Arnold: "In many ways, he was a typical American-cocky, restless, grasping, perpetually optimistic, quick to take offense. He was a vivid example of the self-reliance and rugged individualism that would be celebrated by Americans from Ralph Wales Emerson to Ronald Reagan. But self-reliance can beget arrogance."
This book is a page turner. I read it in 2 days.
Thank you Katie Holt at St.Martin's Press for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.
God Save Benedict Arnold by Jack Kelly
Posted on November 29, 2023 by Jack
Benedict Arnold was a hero and General in the American Revolution before he became a traitor late in the war. Why did he do this? Most of us may know little but his treason. This book fills in all those details of what came before the treason and discusses possible reasons why he became a traitor. The full title is God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America’s Most Hated Man.
Jack Kelly (https://www.amazon.com/stores/Jack-Kelly/author/B001HP8MGQ) has written a wonderful book that will educate and thrill us as we learn about this complicated American hero and traitor.
The book will be published December 5. I thank both Netgalley (https://www.netgalley.com) and St. Martin’s Press (https://us.macmillan.com/stmartinspress/) for the chance to read this before publication. I highly recommend God Save Benedict Arnold to anyone with an interest in the American Revolution.
This book chronicles the complex character of Benedict Arnold—an audacious, brilliant soldier whose early exploits were pivotal to American independence, yet whose treason remains indelible. Shedding new light on Arnold’s motives, this exploration offers a fresh perspective on his legacy as both hero and turncoat.
This thorough and well-researched military history provides a detailed account of Arnold's campaigns and battles.
Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
I received an advance reading copy (arc) of this book from NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. Whenever you think of the name 'Benedict Arnold', a few words come to mind...words like turncoat, traitor, or defector. We don't think of Arnold as an exemplary officer or valiant soldier or brilliant strategist--all things he embodied before he turned. Author Jack Kelly has done an amazing job of describing a complex man who thrived on the battlefield and led the Colonial Army to major victories on Valcour Island and Saratoga. Had he died in battle in either of these arenas, no doubt Benedict Arnold would have gone down in history as one of America's greatest heroes. In the days of the Revolutionary War, however, it was the Continental Congress who designated ranks. General George Washington could submit his recommendations, but the final decisions were up to those men running the government and Benedict Arnold's arrogance rubbed many the wrong way. He was overlooked time and time again while his subordinates were promoted over him, but that was no excuse for the path he chose. When he defected to the British side, General Washington was genuinely heartbroken to find his trust betrayed in the worst possible way. This book was very well-written and researched. Author Jack Kelly gives a well-rounded picture of the man who went down in history as the worst of the worst.