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Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Nathaniel Philbrick.
Publisher Viking  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
ISBN 9780525426783
Pages/Publication Date 427/2016
Daedalus Item Code 69368
This item is not available.
The author of the National Book Award winner In The Heart of the Sea and the Pulitzer Prize finalist Mayflower here offers a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution, and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army—led by a self-questioning Washington who had never before commanded a large force in battle—evacuated New York after a devastating defeat by the British Army. Three weeks later, Arnold (one of Washington's favorite generals) miraculously succeeded in postponing the British naval advance from Canada down Lake Champlain, preventing a British action that might well have ended the war prematurely. Over the next four years, however, Washington vanquished his personal demons, while Arnold fled to the enemy after a foiled attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British. Nathaniel Philbrick gives us a complex and controversial portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation. His focus is on loyalty and personal integrity, evoking a Shakespearean tragedy that unfolds in the key relationship of Washington and Arnold, who is re-cast as an impulsive yet sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians ultimately destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. At the same time, it is Washington's unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time that makes him the right man to lead a country wary of tyrants.

"Valiant Ambition may be one of the greatest what-if books of the age—a volume that turns one of America's best-known narratives on its head."—Boston Globe

"Philbrick has the ability to take seemingly dry facts of history and turn them into exciting prose. The players come alive and their motivations are clear. The people he chronicles are legends, so revealing to the reader what makes them human, foibles and all, helps make sense of the events that transpired and why they acted the way they did."—Associated Press

"An engrossing narrative of the war's most difficult years.... Philbrick argues that the quarrelsome, divided Americans needed Arnold's perfidy as much as they did Washington's greatness to unify their new nation. He pushes aside the patriotic myth to unveil the war's messy reality—and it's still a rousing adventure."—BookPage

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