Valiant Ambition

Valiant Ambition

George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Book - 2016
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In the summer of 1776, Washington's army in Brooklyn and New York City faced one of the largest invading forces ever assembled by the British Empire. After suffering a series of devastating defeats, Washington's vulnerable and dejected troops were forced to evacuate the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Three weeks later, however, near the Canadian border, one of his favorite and most talented generals accomplished a tactical miracle by stalling the British advance in a viciously fought naval battle on Lake Champlain. An American defeat would have effectively ended the war, and it was Benedict Arnold who saved his young country from ruin. Moving beyond the storied victories at Trenton and Princeton and the ordeal of the Continental army at Valley Forge, Philbrick shows how the injuries Arnold suffered at the Battle of Saratoga set Washington's greatest fighting general on the road to treason. Arnold was an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians undermined his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. By 1780, he had fled to the enemy after his failed attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British. During the same period, Washington came to embrace the full scope of leadership. The book tracks the messy collision of military and political goals and shows how the deep divisions among the American people posed a greater threat to their cause than the British army. In a new country wary of tyrants, Washington's unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enabled him to recognize the war that really mattered. In his treason, Arnold may actually have saved America. By intertwining the stories of Washington and Arnold, Philbrick reveals the dark path America traveled during its revolution. This is a portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Viking,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780525426783
Branch Call Number: 973.382 P534v 2016
Characteristics: xix, 427 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 24 cm


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May 30, 2019

Good read, lots of focus on Genl Arnold and Major Andre. Kept me engaged, and really developed Arnold's character. Good stuff about Peggy Shippen too. Tied all the major players together very well and gave me a sense for the circumstances around Arnold's treason. Epilogue nicely tied up the real meaning to America of Arnold's defection.

Nov 09, 2016

A good bet for any Philbrick fan (which I am already) - and better than most since it has a strong human drama at its heart. A careful appraisal of the man Arnold, both sympathetic and unapologetic of his flaws, showing fundamental humanity as well as the dynamic shifts in his person that led to the act of betrayal.
Philbrick even credits this event with eventual redemptive good, as the American people thought about what their ideals were in a new way.

Aug 15, 2016

So what made America's greatest military man flip to the British? Two battlefield injuries that went unrecognized, being passed over for promotion within the ranks several times, and wrongful accusations of malfeasance while serving as Mayor of Philadelphia. Perhaps it was greed, or perhaps he just reached the breaking point. Either way, the unsuccessful surrender of West Point to the British was the turning point of the American Revolution. Philbrick gives a great background as to how it all happened.

Jun 29, 2016

Great story to bring the history of the American Revolution into context, warts and all. the book confirms why Washington is such a great man.

Jun 27, 2016

This is a follow up to Philbrick's excellent "Bunker Hill" and will be followed by a book on Yorktown in a few years.
I saw Philbrick speak recently about the book and I could tell he had a deep fascination with Benedict Arnold. The Arnold story is very interesting and I was caught up with it until he was military governor of Philadelphia and I have to admit I wasn't as taken with his story as with Joseph Warren's in the first book of the trilogy.
Even with my lack of enthusiasm for the Arnold story, I am very appreciative for Philbrick's solid writing and his description of the factions in Congress and the differences between loyalists and patriots, and the economics classes. I also have learned more about George Washington and his character by reading this series. I look forward to "Yorktown" and films that may be spawned by this rock solid and engaging series.

Jun 02, 2016

Really puts you on the ground during the long slog of the American Revolution. Very convincing thesis that Benedict Arnold's heroics and ultimate treason woke up American leaders and united them to fund and finish the war.


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