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The Real Benedict Arnold

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  85 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Every account of the American Revolution mentions Benedict Arnold and brands him—correctly—as a traitor. There’s no question that Arnold, an American army officer, switched his loyalty to the British side. Over the years, however, historians, partisans, and gossips have added to Arnold’s unsavory reputation by distorting, embroidering, or simply ignoring factual details.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2007 by Clarion Books
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Cindy Dobrez
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I knew only the legend, now I understand the complexity of Arnold's choice to turn traitor to a cause he initially believed in so fervently. The book gets off to a slow start and is sure to excite readers who like battle strategy and details, but I found the psychological and political information fascinating.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-j-non-fiction
“The Real Benedict Arnold” is a fascinating study in what made one of America’s greatest military leaders choose to become one of its most vilified historical figures. I could not help but ask myself while reading this book: if I was in Benedict Arnold’s place what would I have done? While his actions are considered reprehensible, one comes away with a better understanding and maybe even a little compassion for the American Traitor. While not an exhaustive text on the subject, it is a well resea ...more
Jun 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Jim Murphy tries to defend some of the good deeds that Benedict Arnold accomplished in his lifetime. Let's say it...the guy has a bad reputation. I think the author makes a great attempt at showing how Arnold spent most of his life trying to bring honor to his family and he just made a pretty bad mistake. I always wondered what happened to him after the revolution and now I know! I thought the book had a few too many details for the average teen reader, but if someone is interested in the subjec ...more
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Since learning that my ancestor participated in the March through the Wilderness and Battle of Quebec in 1775, I've been fascinated in Benedict Arnold. The Real Benedict Arnold by Jim Murphy provides insights into the life of this famous general and traitor. Murphy does a wonderful job providing a detailed, yet easy-to-read account of Arnold's rise and fall. Through the use of primary source documents and other historical materials, Murphy addresses the fact and fiction surrounding this legendar ...more
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, memoir
Very interesting subject, esp when combined w/ fiction set in the same time period. He was a very good patriot and general, but a very poor politician and very prickly on the subject of his honor. He finally felt so ill-used by Congress (among other insults, they didn't pay him for 3 yrs and wouldn't protect him when attacked by a mob instigated by Philly's city council) that he felt their tyranny was no better than England's.
Marilyn Lagier
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
My mom loves going to the Friends of the Library book sales and buying up dozens of books--mostly mysteries or classics. However, this non-fiction book was one she recently got. She started it and then decided that since I was the history major in the family that I should read it--so she passed it over to me. How was it? Well, it was OK. I do have to admit that everything I ever learned about Benedict Arnold in my history classes through the many years NEVER covered anything that the author rese ...more
Raymond C.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
The Real Benedict Arnold
By: Jim Murphy
272 pages

The Real Benedict Arnold is the story about one of the most notorious traitors of the American Revolution. Benedict Arnold was born in 1741 in America. His older brother, also named Benedict had died from a fever when he was still a baby. He became part of the Sons of Liberty and was the captain of the New Haven one. Later, Benedict led the militia to capture Fort Ticonderoga with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. Even though Benedic
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, nonfiction
Jim Murphy takes a look at the life of Benedict Arnold and shows how he went from being a zealous patriot, leading troops in the American revolution, to plotting with the British to try to end the revolution. Although he's often portrayed as being a villain from the start, Murphy shows how Arnold was an inspirational military leader, with a great mind for strategy, who was hampered by personal enemies within the American forces. While Arnold led his troops to victory, other Patriots tried to und ...more
I feel a little guilty for giving this only three stars, because it's not poorly researched or written, and I know that Jim Murphy is a highly respected author of this period. But this book BORED me. I struggled to get through it, and I had to set a goal of reading a chapter a day to push through. It got much more interesting once the actual betrayal was discussed, but I had to get through many, many chapters of military history to get there, and I just can't pretend to care about military strat ...more
Liz Cole
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
So the last Arnold bio I read was Claire Brandt's The Man in the Mirror. I actually liked this one better. The book itself is wide, large-print with lots of maps and illustrations. Murphy did insert a random comparison to George Washington in the beginning part but other than that he doesn't deviate from the subject matter except to illustrate the historical context. Kind of unsettling that he'd refer to the subject by the first name but it's a small issue. Murphy's bio is great because it's ver ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Jim Murphy has done it again -- crafted a work of non-fiction so compelling that it will keep kids hooked like an action-packed novel. The fact that Benedict Arnold's life reads like a novel helps. Murphy asks important questions about the man whose name has become synonymous with the word "traitor" and explores those questions with an open mind and an eye for historical detail. THE REAL BENEDICT ARNOLD takes a look at the man behind the label, his early days of the war, his motivations, and the ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: jim_murphy
This book was a hard read for me. It was interesting but read really slow. It is about Benedict Arnold and why he came to betray his country. There is much battle discussion, and the different people who didn't like him all get refered to by their first names, and it was sometimes hard to keep them straight.

After saying that, I did enjoy the book, it did what it set out to do. I understand why Benedict Arnold might have felt that the Revolution shouldn't succeed because of the many people who di
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is another one of those weird amalgam bios - too boring, by and large, for kids but a little too cutesy for grownups. Adheres to the kid bio convention of always calling the principal by his first name - I guess it's to make us feel intimately connected, but when Murphy is relating a lot of dry political infighting it just feels bizarre. And Murphy is a little too committed to rehabilitating Arnold. BA is portrayed as the victim in every quarrel (and he was a pretty quarrelsome dude), a pup ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Benedict Arnold ..

An american army officer during the revolution agains he British, Benedict Arnold was tolerant and bold, to when he was constantly abused by others (congress). With the congress constantly overlooking him due to many jealous of his army position, his only companion was George Washington that still supported him. When Washington too went rouge on Arnold, he made the ultimate blow to switch sides to the British. Arnold is now recognized as a traitor to the Americans, while sti
Mar 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Revises the traditional schoolbook perspective on Benedict Arnold as a traitor, depicting Arnold as a skilled military commander and good person who betrayed the American cause because his military expedictions had bankrupted him, and Congress had failed to give him the recognition he thought he deserved, and he had become disillusioned about the idea that the American democracy could work any better than the American government.

It's a good resource, but contains too much military detail to be r
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Finally, a book that recognizes Benedict Arnold as a person and ascribes more than just mercenary reasons for his treason. Murphy not only contradicts the dastardly portrait of Arnold portrayed by Fritz, he provides thoughtful, well-reasoned explanations for many of the events of Arnold’s life. Additionally, he explicitly states that little record of Arnold’s early life remains and that many of the anecdotes noted by historians (and contained in the other books) were stories made up after Arnold ...more
Kate Hastings
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grades 5-9
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating information that tries to separate fact from fiction while investigating one of America's most infamous characters. Truly makes one appreciate how the "winners" get to interpret history.

I didn't finish this book due to lack of time, but it would certainly be something I'd be willing to read, especially if I could tie it in with a fictional account or a Colonial/Revolutionary War unit for middle school.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
So far this book reveals a very different Benedict Arnold than is commonly know. Looking forward to understanding the reasons behind his traitorous actions. His role in the American Revolution should be heavily revised. Finished the book and understood his treachery. Battle weary man made the best settlement he could for his Tory wife and her family.
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a great overview of the man who is commonly considered to be the most significant traitor in American history. It looks at both sides of the story; Benedicts heroism and bravery; and how he felt betrayed by his country and why became a turncoat.
Haley Burgraff
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I had to read it for school, and it turned out pretty good! There was a choice of 10 books(all nonfiction about the American Revolution) and this one seemed the most interesting.
Dec 26, 2008 marked it as to-read
compelling portrait of a complex political figure. brilliant strategist.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile
Non-fiction for older elementary and middle schoolers. I can't imagine anyone but history buffs willing to get through this book, though it is very good.
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Great information, but it was extremely slow. I did not like reading it at all. I would not use this particular book to teach my students.
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this. There is so much more to the story of Benedict Arnold, the traitor. I love history and this was really eye opening.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Brings the multi-faceted man and his times to life. The most important thing I learned was how in disarray govt was prior to the revolution.
Karen Meyer
rated it it was amazing
Nov 01, 2017
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Nov 09, 2010
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An American author of more than 35 nonfiction and fiction books for children, young adults, and general audiences, including more than 30 about American history. He won the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 2010 for his contribution in writing for teens. Jim lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, in a hundred-year-old house with his wife Alison Blank, a children’s TV produce ...more
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