Book Review: 'Valiant Ambition' by Nathaniel Philbrick

AP News
|
Posted: May 10, 2016 11:38 AM
Book Review: 'Valiant Ambition' by Nathaniel Philbrick

"Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution" (Viking), by Nathaniel Philbrick

In "Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution," Nathaniel Philbrick continues the saga of the American Revolution from his previous book, "Bunker Hill: a City, a Siege, a Revolution."

This time Philbrick explores the period of time when the war wasn't going well. With the British takeover of New York City and Gen. Washington's constant battles with Congress, hope for success and morale were low. Soon after Washington evacuates New York, Benedict Arnold does the seemingly impossible and beats the British on Lake Champlain.

The success of that campaign along with Washington's endorsement should have propelled Arnold to greatness were it not for petty debates, the dysfunction of Congress that favored other candidates for random reasons other than their own attributes and Arnold's own misfortunes.

Philbrick has the ability to take seemingly dry facts of history and turn them into exciting prose. The players come alive and their motivations are clear. The people he chronicles are legends, so revealing to the reader what makes them human, foibles and all, helps make sense of the events that transpired and why they acted the way they did.

The time frame of the narrative covers September 1776 and the loss of New York up to the revelations of Benedict Arnold's treachery and Washington's reaction to the betrayal. It's also clear that Philbrick has at least one more book forthcoming about the American Revolution to cover the end of the war that established the break from British tyranny and founded a new nation.

___

Online:

http://www.nathanielphilbrick.com/