A more schlarly study of Benedict Arnold than James Flexner's recent The Traitor and the Spy bases its accusations on the...

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TRAITOROUS HERO

A more schlarly study of Benedict Arnold than James Flexner's recent The Traitor and the Spy bases its accusations on the fact that Arnold was primarily an opportunist, throws its sympathies with the unjust treatment he received from his superior, and as a work is well grounded in this author's former study of the revolution, Appeal to Arms (1950). Dramatically, the first chapter catches Arnold at the decisive (for him) battle of Bemis Heights when he was relieved of his command. Going back then, Arnold is pictured as a bright youth, then as a forward young merchant to whom the call to arms provided the right milieu for quick advancement. Ticonderoga, Quebec, Lake Champlain, their achievements, failures and the further complex of motives they created, build up to the odd pinnacle of glory and defamation. Always, Wallace keeps before us the fact that Arnold's abilities and career were manhandled by individual and political jealousies. But it is implicit in the book that Arnold had no real patriotic zeal. Though his venture with the British is pictured as natural outcome of a reaction of a particular personality in a particular situation (the role of Peggy Shippen's positive influence is stressed too) he remains, if not a thorough rotter, ultimately degraded. Flexner's book may detract from sales but it may stimulate them as well.

Pub Date: March 31, 1954

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1954