BENEDICT ARNOLD, REVOLUTIONARY HERO

AN AMERICAN WARRIOR RECONSIDERED

Renowned traitors are almost always heroes who have gone astray, otherwise what would be the tragedy of the betrayal? In this sense, a revisionist history of Benedict Arnold as ``revolutionary hero'' is not a surprising turn—but it is an edifying one. Martin (History/Univ. of Houston; Men in Rebellion, not reviewed, etc.) unpacks the various myths that have sprung up around Arnold—myths that were designed to recast the hero into the villain—and draws a truer portrait of this misunderstood American archetype. What he uncovers is a bright and ambitious man who miscalculated badly on one very significant act of his life. Born to a respectable family in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1741, Arnold watched helplessly as his father drank away his good family name and modest fortune. Arnold was taken out of school (he had thought himself destined for higher education at Yale) and apprenticed to successful merchants on his mother's side of the family. He did well in business, married advantageously, and was headed for a very comfortable life when duty, and the hope of laurels for the somewhat tarnished Arnold name, sent him into the military. He proved himself an able leader, but in 1780, Arnold rethought his cause and decided that the colonies, which appeared to be losing the war, would be better off appealing favorably to the British after all. He hoped that he would be viewed as a greater hero for recognizing this truth, and that the rest of the rebels would follow his lead. Instead, his defection gave the revolutionary cause a shot in the arm, as well as a villain to burn in effigy—an ironic end to his lifelong quest for respectability. Although Martin can be rather heavy-handed in pressing his central theme that Arnold's concern was to restore his family's reputation, this is still a worthy exposÇ of a truth underlying a cherished American myth. (24 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1997

ISBN: 0-8147-5560-7

Page Count: 540

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more