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Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  151 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
The story of two Revolutionary–era teenagers who defy their Loyalist families to marry radical patriots, Henry Knox and Benedict Arnold, and are forever changed
When Peggy Shippen, the celebrated blonde belle of Philadelphia, married American military hero Benedict Arnold in 1779, she anticipated a life of fame and fortune, but financial debts and political intrigues promp
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 03, 2013 Gaele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, edelweiss
There must be something in the air. This is the second book that I have read in the past few weeks that is primarily focused on correspondence of the focal characters. In a uniquely parallel perspective of two contemporaries, we follow the stories of Peggy Shippen Arnold, wife of Benedict, and Lucy Flucker Knox, wife of Henry. Both men are familiar to everyone who is familiar with the American Revolution, although in most accounts of the time the women’s contributions to the course of history ar ...more
Sarah Vedrani
May 19, 2015 Sarah Vedrani rated it it was ok
For a book that claims to place more emphasis on the women of the American Revolution, this book misses it's mark, and by a very wide margin. Much of the book focuses on Benedict Arnold and Henry Knox, with facts about their wives-mostly their reactions to their husbands' actions-woven in at key points. The author also attempts to make connections between the two women that are tenuous at best.

As a student of the American Revolution and a living historian of that period, I found this book serio
Monica Bond-Lamberty
Not quite so defiant in my book. Men still idiots.
Sarah Beth
I received a copy of this book as a giveaway on Goodreads.

Defiant Brides is a dual biography of Peggy Shippen Arnold (wife to Benedict Arnold) and Lucy Flucker Knox (wife to Henry Knox) by historian Nancy Rubin Stuart. These two Revolutionary era women both married men against their family's wishes. Both women saw their husbands rise to prominence, albeit for different reasons. I have never read anything on either women or their husbands, so I was curious to learn more about their lives and inv
Shellys♥ Journal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2014 Demodesrev rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This book is an interesting read, especially for those who don't know much about or are relatively new to American history. In fact, even though I grew up learning American history, this book made me realize how little I actually know about American history - thank you Texas public school system.

Anyhow, I've seen a few reviews on this book that complain about the title being misleading or the book's almost equal focus on the husbands as on the wives. And even though I expected more focus on more
Nov 08, 2014 M rated it really liked it
This is a very engaging piecing together of the lives of two women who are little known in United States history. Though they never met, the two led parallel lives during the American Revolution and the years that followed.

Because of his infamous treason, Peggy Shippen Arnold's husband Benedict is much better known to history than Lucy Flucker Knox's husband Henry Knox. Knox was, however, an extremely important figure in George Washington's army. He was also the new nation's first Secretary of
Stacie Wyatt
May 03, 2014 Stacie Wyatt rated it it was amazing
I read Defiant Brides, in exchange for review from Edelweiss. The book was written by Nancy Rubin Stuart. The book was also published by Beacon Press. The book discussed women, who married some interesting men like Benedict Arnold and Henry Knox. Arnold was in the military and then betrayed his country, while Knox was a book seller and patriot. Lucy was married to Knox and Peggy was married to Arnold. Lucy and Peggy are the central characters in the book. Both wives were also dedicated (and supp ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Lauretta rated it it was ok
I believe it was a struggle to create a comparative study of Peggy Shippen and Lucy Knox. In the end, the common denominator was that they both ended their lives with financial troubles after the deaths of their husbands. There's no spoiler there - no great surprise for widows at the beginning of the 19th century. Once I got past the numerous editing gaffes, I enjoyed how the author included information concerning the couples after Benedict Arnold's defection. It's the most extensive discussion ...more
Aug 30, 2014 Jess rated it really liked it
For what it was, Defiant Brides was an enchanting read. I expected a little more insight into the lives of Peggy Shippen and Lucy Flucker, but since there aren't very many first-hand documents of their lives available, I found the way Nancy Rubin Stuart told their stories worked very well. I liked that she didn't make any grand assumptions nor fluffed the stories to make them more intriguing or Hollywood-esque, but simply made logical conclusions based on evidence as to what these ladies may hav ...more
Kevin Symmons
May 02, 2013 Kevin Symmons rated it really liked it
I must admit that Nancy Rubin Stuart is both a personal friend and colleague of mine. That does nothing, however, to take away my fascination and the wealth of new knowledge I gained by reading "Defiant Brides." Peggy (Shippen) Arnold and Julia (Flucker) Knox were amazing women during a time when being amazing was am almost everyday occurrence in revolutionary America. Both raised in the favored bosom of wealth and privilege, one chose the role of virtual co-conspirator with her husband Benedict ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Eliz rated it liked it
I received this book through the Goodreads First Read program. The premise is interesting, two women living through the Revolution who had elements of being unconventional. Prior to reading this I was at least slightly familiar with both women.

I think the material the author used was not enough to support her premise. There is not only more about Peggy Shippen than Lucy Flucker, but way too much is more about the men in their lives instead of them. The material on Lucy might have warranted an ar
May 08, 2014 Kristi rated it liked it
Well-researched, with worthy aims and subjects, I regret that this book fell short of my expectations. It is wonderful to read history that brings women back to the center of the story, yet I felt that the dual-biographical format did not serve the purpose well. In particular, Lucy Flucker Knox's story because diluted and lost within the more actively compelling story of Peggy Shippen Arnold. There was simply not enough resonances between the two lives to make the format work well enough. Furthe ...more
Jun 18, 2013 Diana rated it liked it
A fairly quick read with some interesting tidbits about Lucy Flucker and Margaret Shippen, the wives of Henry Knox and Benedict Arnold respectively. As always, I am amazed at the strength of parents to have to deal with losing so many children young (Lucy and Henry birthed 13 children, but only 3 lived to adulthood). I also learned more details about the Revolution but didn't feel like I was reading a textbook, which is always nice when it comes to nonfiction.

The aim of juxtaposing these lives,
Jennifer Smith
Apr 13, 2013 Jennifer Smith rated it really liked it
I enjoy biographies of women from US history - so this is a book I was bound to like. That said, I feel like I got a much better understanding of Peggy Arnold and was happy to watch her grow into a mature, responsible woman. I often forget that women married so young in those days so they were still children, so the choices they make have to be viewed from the perspective of their age and the guidance of their (sometimes much) older husbands. I was also shocked by the number of children who died ...more
Apr 08, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it
A unique comparison between two historical Revolutionary men and their wives. Stuart gives us a view into the lives of these two women -who like their husbands are quite opposite. A great deal of research gives the reader historical perspective about Arnold and Knox and the Revolutionary era. I am again amazed by the amount of upheaval there was in the lives of these men and women whose homesteads were transient and finances unsure. The effort the women made to keep appearances seemed overwhelmi ...more
Brent Soderstrum
Mar 26, 2013 Brent Soderstrum rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-read
I won this book through GoodReads first read program.

This book is as dry as sawdust. I enjoy history and minored in it in college but this book was very hard to plow through. It is about the brides of two very different revolutionary war characters. The first was Lucy Knox, the wife of Secretary of War Henry Knox. The second was Peggy Arnold, the wife of Benedict Arnold who became a traitor to America when he didn't receive the love and adoration he felt was due him as a general for the Colonial
May 03, 2013 Maria rated it it was amazing
This is why I love history. The dual biography of two women and their devotion to the men they loved and the challenging lives they led--Margaret (Peggy) Shippen Arnold, wife of revolutionary soldier turned Loyalist Benedict Arnold and Lucy Flucker Knox, wife of patriot officer Henry Knox. Stuart reminds us that not everyone in America favored a revolution and that it was perfectly natural for each woman to be influenced by their husband. It was interesting to read about revolutionary Philadelph ...more
Diane Heath
Jan 15, 2016 Diane Heath rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Lucy Flucker until last week when her husband's name (Henry Knox) was the answer to a Jeopardy question regarding "Meet the Fluckers"....My only knowledge of Peggy Shippen Arnold was based on a previous book which claimed she was the reason Benedict Arnold turned traitor (facts not withstanding). It would seem that the view of Peggy Arnold is much like that of Anne Boleyn (see The Creation of Anne Boleyn)
This was an informative book about the Revolutionary War and at least t
May 26, 2014 Cyndie rated it liked it
Recommended to Cyndie by: Adam's National Historic Park
Shelves: non-fiction
Enjoyed the story of these two revolutionary era women but not sure it quite lived up to it's title of "defiant brides". While yes, these brides did defy their parents in who they married, it doesn't seem from the writing that they were particularly defiant within the context of their marriages. Still a very cool contrast study the wife of a patriot vs. the wife of a traitor and yet their common doubts and fears in a time of war. Worth reading, but maybe a little less rebellious than advertised.
May 18, 2016 Liz rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this double biography about women that I would have never considered similar in any way before reading this book. But Stuart has drawn similarities between their personalities and strong wills, and I appreciated reading about the lives, marriages, and correspondences of both women, who often get overshadowed by their husbands.

I would have given a full five stars, except there were sections of the book, especially concerning Lucy Knox, that were presented as fact but had no s
Adrienne Teague
Jun 29, 2013 Adrienne Teague rated it liked it
This book could have been so good. The premise is fantastic, comparing the wives of Henry Knox and Benedict Arnold. But the typos and editorial mistakes got so bad, I couldn't overlook it anymore. A couple of times I was actually confused because the editing was so bad. Note to publishers: mistakes can ruin a fabulous book! Readers are not as stupid as you apparently think we are. We know the English language and notice when it's wrong.
Apr 23, 2013 Joan rated it liked it
My American history didn't extend to the fact that Benedict Arnold even had a wife, much less that she played a major role in his treason; and I must admit that Henry Knox, Revolutionary general and first secretary of war for the US, and wife Lucy were not familiar characters. Much of this book was new information for me, and I really enjoyed seeing the Revolution and the years after through the eyes of the two women with very different political loyalties.
Aug 07, 2013 Marion rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
The first half of the book is more about Henry Knox and Benedict Arnold, rather than their wives. Lucy Knox comes across as whiny, although I'm sure losing 10 children out of 13 must have had a big impact on the poor woman. Peggy Shippen Arnold was much more interesting. The most interesting part of this book was it's exploration of the impact of the Revolution on the lives of the families, although in some respects the book just skimmed the surface, and left me wanting more.
Mar 02, 2016 Linda rated it liked it
This was an interesting read about two women, the wives of Benedict Arnold and John Knox. I had hoped there would be original letters from the women included but even so the story of this period of history from the women's point of view was fascinating. If you live Revolutionary-Era history I would recommend this book.
Kathy Hale
Nov 20, 2014 Kathy Hale rated it liked it
Shelves: oboc2015
A nice accounting of two women that you don't hear much about from the American revolutionary Period. They are Lucy Knox and Peggy Shippen Arnold.Both were married to very different men who fought in the Revolutionary War. It's amazing how many times each of these women were pregnant but whsoe children did not each adulthood.
Jun 06, 2013 Cadence rated it it was ok
Shelves: put-it-down
I really, really tried. The subject is interesting enough, but the author's style isn't. I had to force myself through the first 70-odd pages I read. That took me 12 days and with 200+ pages left and only 9 days left in the library loan period, I decided to quit fooling myself that I would finish it.
Oct 17, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
This book was okay. I liked how I learned some important history from it, but I feel like Defiant Brides was a book more about their husbands than it was them. I respect all the information Nancy Rubin Stuart gained in order to write this book. For someone who is into historical non-fiction and political type books, then this one might for you.
Sep 19, 2014 Esme added it
DNF. I found it interesting, but the author's prose...well, it could have flowed better. There were sentences I found unnecessarily confusing. I think, instead of having someone feeding me snippets of primary documents, I would have preferred to just read the original letters themselves. But it was still pretty good.
Meg Marie
Sep 21, 2013 Meg Marie rated it liked it
The story of two Revolutionary War brides who started as similar young women married to important, up and coming men (Benedict Arnold and Henry Knox) who met very dissimilar fates by the war's end. It was an interesting read and I learned more about the women and their husbands, though I have to admit, I was weirded out by the author continually calling Benedict Arnold "the crippled general."
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Nancy Rubin Stuart is an award-winning author and journalist who specializes in women, biography and social history.

A graduate of Tufts University with a B.A. in English and an M.A.T. from Brown University, Nancy holds an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Mount Vernon College, now part of Georgetown University.

Nancy just won the 2009 Historic Winslow House Book Award on behalf of her lat
More about Nancy Rubin Stuart...

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