Benedict Arnold: Revolutionary Hero by James Kirby Martin

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline:

He still sucks.

Quick synopsis:

A look at why Benedict Arnold became the traitor we still love to hate.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Arnold had two wives named Peggy. Not at the same time. That would be scandalous. Oh, wait…

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Arnold is often thought of as having a close relationship with George Washington, which made his treachery so unbelievable. However, Arnold and Washington only crossed paths briefly a few times and mostly spoke through letters or intermediaries.

My Take:

At the end of this book, I still think Benedict Arnold sucks. However, Martin closes the gap between “greedy jerk who is the devil” and “you know, he really should have been treated better and then maybe he wouldn’t have gone off the deep end.”

Martin focuses on Arnold’s life from childhood right up until the point where he becomes a turncoat. There is a powerful theme of someone who is obviously obsessed with his honor and just cannot seem to get along with most people. While Martin points out that many of his detractors were less than stellar human beings, the long list of people who hate Benedict Arnold just seems to grow every time he meets someone new. Arnold had no idea how public relations and politics worked and it cost him dearly.

Martin takes on many of the myths surrounding Arnold and tries to humanize him as much as possible for an American audience. Does he succeed in making Arnold a sympathetic figure? No, but you’d be surprised how close he gets to making you understand how a gifted general could go from patriotic hero to ultimate villain.


This is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more about Arnold and see the petty squabbles of Revolutionary War generals. Buy it here!

If You Liked This Try:





Leave a Reply