TRAITOR by Jean Fritz

TRAITOR

The Case Of Benedict Arnold (unforgettable Americans)
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Continuing the move, begun with Stonewall (1979), from her delightful founding-father sketches to a somewhat older, straighter, and fuller biography, Fritz has made another lively, readable life story from far less personable material. Her first sentences establish a tone and a running theme: "When Benedict Arnold was a teenager, some people in his hometown of Norwich, Connecticut, predicted that he'd grow up to be a success. Others said, No. Benedict Arnold would turn out badly." Examples of his youthful daredeviltry and then his strutting extravagance as a young merchant contribute to the later picture of Arnold as both a fearless and compelling military leader and a vain and childish prima donna--who demands recognition and reward for his patriotic services, and considers private gain from army provisions as no more than his due. Fritz' eye for human foibles enlivens her account of squabbles with army rivals and superiors (he recognized none), and her story of Arnold's treachery becomes a fascinating spectacle of pieces (personal rancor, the old dependence on money and easy self-justification, a new young Tory-sympathizing wife) falling inevitably into place. Though you might miss the fond anecdotes Fritz tells on more congenial subjects (even Stonewall was lovable in comparison), you'll admire her success in communicating an understanding of the man a contemporary called "the veriest villain villain [sic] of centuries past."
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0698115538
Page count: 114pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1981




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