Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Benedict Arnold: From Patriot To Traitor

Benedict Arnold: From Patriot To Traitor

Pamela Dell
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
Compass Point Books, 2005   ISBN: 0756508258

There are some famous people from history who are lucky because they are remembered for the good things that they did in their lifetimes. Though they made mistakes, some of which were considerable, they are praised in history books. Benedict Arnold was one of those unfortunate people who is always remembered for the biggest mistake he made. He betrayed his country to the enemy, and that is the only thing that people care to know about him.

This is a great shame because Arnold had many good qualities. He was a good soldier, and a leader who was much loved by the soldiers who served under him. He was brave, almost to a fault, and won victories for America’s revolutionary cause when victories were few and far between. He was admired by George Washington, who did his best to support Arnold when others were eager to downplay or even deny Arnold’s achievements.

When he was a boy, Arnold’s father made some bad business decisions and he lost the family fortune. Arnold had to live under the dark cloud of his father’s shame, and as an adult, he tended to take offense easily. His brusque, arrogant, and prickly demeanor earned him many enemies and few friends, and it was these enemies who chose to undermine his career. Arnold seemed not to understand that he needed to play the political game, he needed to woo over the people who did not like him. For this reason, his successes and achievements were buried, and he did not get the recognition he deserved. It was this lack of recognition that finally drove him to turn his back on the revolutionary cause, and to make the worse decision of his life.

In this excellent Signature Lives title, Pamela Dell shows to great effect how Benedict Arnold was affected by his father’s mistakes, and how his arrogance and stubbornness led to him becoming a traitor.