Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Benedict Arnold: American Hero and Traitor

Benedict Arnold: American Hero and Traitor

Michael Bergen
Illustrator:  Terry Beatty 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 0736868542

Benedict Arnold should have had an easy life but because his father’s business failed, Arnold was not able to stay in school and to go to college. Instead he was apprenticed to work in a drug store and he had to build a career for himself. And this is just what he did. He grew to be a successful businessman in New Haven.

In the 1760’s the British began to tax the American colonies heavily. Like many other men of business Arnold got around the taxes by smuggling goods into the country. Arnold’s obvious anti-British sentiments landed him a leadership position in the local militia, and when war broke out he went to Massachusetts to offer the leaders there his help.

Arnold’s obvious tactical skills meant that he was chosen to lead an attack on Fort Ticonderoga, and despite the clashes that he had with Ethan Allen, he was successful. Later he used a captured ship to seize a British warship.

Arnold’s successes in the field prompted General Washington to choose him to lead an invasion force on Canada. The campaign was not a success and Arnold was wounded, but his courage and obvious leadership skills meant that he was chosen for other missions. Unfortunately Arnold had no patience for political matters, and he had many enemies in Congress. He was passed over for promotion many times and this led to much ill feeling on Arnold’s part. It was this feeling that would lead him down a dangerous path.

In this well written book the author helps his readers to understand what prompted Benedict Arnold, an honored military man, to turn against his country. With its graphic novel style format, the book makes history very accessible to young readers who are not naturally drawn to non-fiction titles.