by Steve Sheinkin
Roaring Brook Press, 2010. 337 pgs. Biography.
Most of us know from Elementary School that Benedict Arnold was the great American traitor of the Revolutionary War, a man who would come to symbolize treason throughout the history of our country. But few know of General Arnold's extraordinary contributions to the Revolution before he turned coat. Sheinkin's biography for older elementary students and younger teens reveals how Benedict Arnold's courage and determination carried him and his bold though suffering soldiers into Canadian and northern States' campaigns which not only advanced but may have saved the Revolution. George Washington was one of his many admirers who relied upon his bravery and military judgment. Unfortunately, Arnold's flaws loomed as large as his virtues: he was justifiably angry with real and imagined slights from the Continental Congress; he was quick to anger and to take offense, and had no notion of politics or the need for diplomacy. In the end, his plan to surrender West Point and perhaps General Washington himself was foiled by a series of events that can only be attributed to either the hand of God or an inexplicable run of luck. In The Notorious Benedict Arnold . . . , Steve Sheinkin has not only written a solid historical account, but a suspenseful and heartrending story of good men, and a good man gone dreadfully wrong. An excellent choice for a reluctant upper elementary or early teen reader assigned to read a biography.