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Rabble in Arms
Kenneth Roberts
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Rabble in Arms (Chronicles of Arundel #3)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  800 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews

The second of Roberts's epic novels of the American Revolution, Rabble in Arms was hailed by one critic as the greatest historical novel written about America upon its publication in 1933. Love, treachery, ambition, and idealism motivate an unforgettable cast of characters in a magnificent novel renowned not only for the beauty and horror of its story but also for its hist

Paperback, 586 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Yankee Publishing, Inc. (first published 1933)
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Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read and re-read this amazing title, along with it's prequel Arudel several times. Written 6 decades ago, it still is vibrant and alive, the characters are full of life, and become favorites. The bluff good hearted Cap Huff, old Doc Means and the rest of the cast are the types of literary heroes, "ordinary men doing extraordinary things" that inspire. I was particularly drawn to the story of Benedict Arnold, the man and the hero. While he was America's first 'traitor', his story, while Ro ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this book did get better in the end, especially once there was actual battle, considering the book was supposed to be about the Revolutionary war. It was really interesting though to learn more about the true story of Benedict Arnold, when all we really remember him as is as a traitor. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I didn't have to read it as a summer reading assignment.
Julie Davis
Ok, Book Bingo: A Book Based on a True Story. You can read all about why I chose this book at the link.

Based on a quote at the beginning, a thank you to Booth Tarkington (!), and just flipping through the book itself, it looks as if this has a focus on Benedict Arnold which is a surprise. If so, this would have been quite a "revolutionary" attitude (couldn't help it, had to do it) at the time this book was written, some 60 years ago.. Roberts was known for digging up forgotten facts and taking a
Lynn Pribus
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I'm not much for historical novels, this is such a classic that I read it for a bimonthly piece I do for a military magazine. Although I grew up in NY state where history is much more about the Revolution than the Civil War, I didn't realize just how important Lake Champlain was to the Revolutionary War in the north. The "rabble" of the title comes from a sneering comment by the British General Burgoyne about the Colonists army which was "half-fed, half-armed and half-dressed" since Congre ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you had high school history classes similar to mine this book provides proof of how cursory and in some instances falsely those textbooks were in providing an appreciation for how we became the United States. I would strongly recommend this book. This is my third Roberts book and I intend to read all of them.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benedict Arnold's name has become synonomous with the word traitor but Roberts shows us it is not that simple. And it never is with history because we are talking about real people and all the influences, passions, events and conflicts that shaped their lives. Not many have matched Kenneth Roberts mastery of historical fiction which is probably why he is still being published today.
Abigail Hartman
"Rabble in Arms" felt to me like "The Last of the Mohicans," but set during the Revolutionary rather than the French and Indian War - and without Uncas, which is to say, not quite as good. The writing, especially the first-person narration, gives the book a richly American flavor: I loved the main character's passion for his home, for his people, for his country, and his tenacity in doing what he felt was right. Roberts presents a refreshingly un-glorious picture of war (another comparison would ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. I had done some online research looking for a good novel set during the American Revolution, and this is the novel that many people recommended. I bought the whole trilogy and read Arundel first. Arundel dealt with the attempt to capture Quebec city, and this sequel continues with the fighting on and around Lake Champlain leading to the eventual defeat of Burgoyne, the general who said the colonial army was a "rabble in arms." Maybe one shouldn't read two of these close together o ...more
Rabble in Arms takes place during the American Revolution and tells the story of the American retreat from Quebec, following their trouncing by the British, all the way to the battle of Saratoga, where they trounced the British back. There are many great battles as the Americans retreat, beset by hunger, indians, smallpox, and many other ills. Roberts did a spectacular job following every twist and turn in this story, and in my copy there was a map that enabled one to follow events spacially. Th ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second book in Kenneth Roberts' historical fiction concerning the northern campaign of the Revolutionary War and the heroic role of Benedict Arnold. Some favorite characters return (Steven Nason, Cap Huff) and several new ones are added, and the tale is told through the eyes of a new protagonist (a young sea Captain from Arundel recruited by Nason).

The romantic entanglement of our young hero, and the struggle to overcome the intrigue and disinformation campaign of the villains, is formulaic (an
Jul 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
My this was long and I'll admit to skipping through a LOT. Mostly because the hero worship of Benedict Arnold just got over the top and tedious. Yes, he was a brilliant General. Yes, he was under-appreciated and frequently hosed over by Congress and other Generals. But ... there are an awful lot of pages dedicated to extolling his virtues and browbeating Congress/Other Generals to the extent that it does take away a bit from what is a really good story. Steven Nason takes a bit of a back seat in ...more
It took me a long time to read this book. Roberts describes events in great detail, primarily through conversation between his colorful characters and through first-person narration, to the point that one can envision the action and know the characters well. Roberts draws one in to want to understand everything that is happening and to want not to miss a detail. It takes concentration to catch it all; but it is worth the effort. I wondered if Roberts accessed colonial diaries in his research. Th ...more
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you only read one book about the American revolution, this wouldn't be a bad choice. This is a stirring, well-researched account of the Saratoga campaign, told mainly by fictional characters, some of whom return from Roberts's earlier novel Arundel. As in Arundel, Benedict Arnold is a prominent character.

If the book has any flaw, it's the way Roberts bends over backwards to defend Arnold, who changed sides soon after the events described in this book. The effort to rehabilitate Arnold's repu
Mike McAdam
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a very epic book! This is a historical fiction book that takes place during the revolutionary war and is right in the middle of it. The book is not all war though (or I wouldn't have read it) - there are elements of romance and intrigue, etc etc. It was riveting (most of the time) and hard to put down at times. Other times, however, I had a hard time keeping interest. Once they are in actual battles (as in "let's take that hill" etc etc), I started to lose interest. This happened maybe 5 or ...more
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I would say 3 1/2 stars for this was very thorough. I hear that it was well researched and very accurate. It was extremely descriptive and but a little lacking in the excitement department. It would be a good read for young adults or for any school assignment because there was very little profanity and no sex. It was extremely interesting to read about what the people who fought this war went through and what they had to put up with. I would highly recommend this book is first book to re ...more
Ian Durham
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book, as expected, though, somewhat surprisingly, I think I liked van Wyck's The Young Titan better even though Roberts is the better-known author. There was one fabulous line at the end, though. Roberts was a native and long-time resident of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, Maine, where I now reside. The narrator in this book, toward the end, says "in ... Maine ... folk content themselves with looking bleak when deeply moved." I nearly died laughing because almost all stereotypes such as t ...more
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picks up the story from Arundel and follows those Mainers who fight alongside Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War as they try to defend Ticonderoga. Interesting comparison to today's war. Congress has its head up its ass then, too, failing to support our troops with sufficient arms and supplies, trashing generals like Arnold who knew what they were doing, and promoting sycophants and dilettantes who didn't. Arnold may have sold out to the British out of shear frustration with the stupid ...more
Matt Watros
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the only books I have ever read twice. I would recommend reading Arundel first though as it is the prequel to Rabble in Arms. I read them in opposite order. Kenneth Roberts is by far my all time favorite author and Cap Huff who shows up in several of his books is my favorite fictional character. This summer I dragged my wife and kids to his former home in Kennebunkport, Maine on our way to Acadia National Park.
Aug 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even better than the book before it. Thus far it is Roberts at his best. The book shined when Benedict Arnold is present. Cap Huff and Doc Means will hold your attention. Like most of his other work this lead is fairly bland and only made interesting by interaction with the more interesting supporting cast.

Those wanting an enriched experience should read With Musket and Tomahawk by Lougsz first. One also needs to read Arundel first
Raymond Rockwell
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read it and I'm reading I must rate it worthwhile! Yes, narrator Peter can
be annoying and Benedict ("blessed," don't you know) Arnold is a Colonial Super-
hero, but Doc Means and Cap Huff provide comic relief (if not fresh air) with their
asafoetida and rum-aroma, respectively.
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story from the American Revolution which takes a very positive attitude toward Benedict Arnold as an brilliant but abused general. Whatever its bias, it is a compelling romance and history lesson centered on the Battle of Lake Champlain (Battle of Valcour Island). The battle is real and pivotal in the war but little known. One of the sunken gunboats can be seen in the Smithsonian.
I have the impression that Roberts' true vocation was history, not fiction. A lot of research went into this story, but the characters are quaint caricatures. I wish Roberts had written straight up history instead.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won-t-finish
You know, this book started out OK and it may get better, but I'm 300 pages into a 900 page book and it just is going nowhere. I'm sure it goes somewhere, but I'd rather not read a book about the Revolution that takes as long as the Revolution.
Michael Brown
Roberts was one of those adult authors I read from mom's library. Liked his stories and enjoyed his interpretations of history thru fictional characters. Still read him sometimes for the pleasure of old friends.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Didn't finish. Tried to read it too soon after Northwest Passage. But the chapter about General Benedict Arnold I found very interesting. I am related to his family by adoption. Gives a good description of his position.
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just starting this book. Am enjoying it so far two Americans in Britain at the start of the Revolution encounter an American/French woman and her Canadian Uncle. The protagonists have found a berth on board a French frigate returning to the States...
Required reading for U.S. history in high school--I think this teacher thought we might retain more if we read an historical fiction about the Revolution as we tried to learn all the facts--this is a great read and from what I have learned over the years Roberts did his homework on the facts.
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kenneth Roberts is a wonderful author bringing great characters to life. Everyone should read Rabble in Arms (revolution), Arundel (French and Indian Wars) and Northwest Passage. Maybe the inventor of historical fiction!
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first historical fiction book I read after completing the Landmark series of history books while in grade school. My brother liked it so I picked it up - it was so - -so long compared to previous books I had read before age 12.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly my favorite book! This is a sequel to "Arundel". This is a great historical novel about the Revolutionary War. Characters really come to life, and a great deal of time was spent researching the details in this book. I strongly recommend reading!
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Kenneth Lewis Roberts (December 8, 1885 – July 21, 1957) was an American author of historical novels. Roberts worked first as a journalist, becoming nationally known for his work with the Saturday Evening Post from 1919 to 1928, and then as a popular novelist. Born in Kennebunk, Maine, Roberts specialized in Regionalist historical fiction. He often wrote about his native state and its terrain, als ...more
More about Kenneth Roberts...

Other Books in the Series

Chronicles of Arundel (4 books)
  • Arundel
  • The Lively Lady
  • Captain Caution

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“Allen’s Landing ain’t nothing but a little woodchuck-hole of a place, and if we was forced to borrow boats there, or anything else, we might get into trouble, on account of having no other place to go until our borrowing was completed.” 0 likes
“Far off we heard the clatter of hoofs. Arnold went to the window. “Ho!” he said. “Here’s a friend of yours with” 0 likes
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