New York Times bestselling author, Newbery Honor recipient, and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin presents both the heroism and the treachery of one of the Revolutionary War's most infamous players in his biography of Benedict Arnold.
Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
Winner of the YALSA-ALA Award for Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction
Most people know that Benedict Arnold was America's first, most notorious traitor. Few know that he was also one of its greatest Revolutionary War heroes.
Steve Sheinkin's accessible biography, The Notorious Benedict Arnold, introduces young readers to the real Arnold: reckless, heroic, and driven. Packed with first-person accounts, astonishing American Revolution battle scenes, and surprising twists, this is a gripping and true adventure tale from history.
“Sheinkin sees Arnold as America's ‘original action hero' and succeeds in writing a brilliant, fast-paced biography that reads like an adventure novel...The author's obvious mastery of his material, lively prose and abundant use of eyewitness accounts make this one of the most exciting biographies young readers will find.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Several complex political, social, and military themes emerge, one of the most prominent being that within the Continental army, often simplistically depicted as single-minded patriots, beat hearts scheming with political machinations that are completely familiar today...Arnold's inexorable clash with Gates and his decision to turn traitor both chill and compel.” Horn Book Magazine (starred review)
Also by Steve Sheinkin:
Bomb: The Race to Buildand Stealthe World's Most Dangerous Weapon
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Which Way to the Wild West?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About Westward Expansion
King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution
Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War
Born to Fly: The First Women's Air Race Across America
About the Author
Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of several fascinating books on American history, including The Notorious Benedict Arnold, which won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for nonfiction. His recent book Bomb was a Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award as well as theYALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Read an Excerpt
Clearing in the Woods
October 2, 1780
It was a beautiful place to die. The sky above the woods glowed blue, and the leaves on the trees were a riot of fall colors: sunshine yellow, campfire orange, blood red.
In a grassy clearing, a small group of American soldiers quickly built a gallows. It was a simple structure, made of two tall, forked logs stuck into the ground, with a third log laid horizontally between the forks. The soldiers tied one end of a rope to the middle of the horizontal log, letting the other end hang down. There was no platform to stand on, no trapdoor to fall through—the prisoner would have to climb onto a wagon with the rope looped around his throat. Horses would jerk the wagon forward, and he would tumble off the back. The force of his falling weight should be enough to snap a man’s neck.
As the soldiers worked, a crowd began to gather. Officers rode up and sat still on their horses. Soldiers and citizens from nearby towns gradually filled the clearing. By late afternoon, hundreds of people surrounded the gallows, and thousands lined the road leading to it. It was a somber crowd. People spoke in whispers, if at all.
Shortly before five o’clock, a wagon carrying a plain, pine coffin rattled along the road and into the clearing. The driver stopped his horses just beyond the gallows, with the wagon lined up under the dangling rope. The ghoulish figure of a hangman appeared, his face sloppily smeared with black axle grease to disguise his identity. He stood by the wagon and waited.
A few minutes after five, the distant sounds of a fife and drum band reached the clearing. The music grew louder, and the crowd recognized the tune—a funeral march. Soon the players came into view, stepping slowly and heavily in time with the music.
Behind the band marched the prisoner. He wore a spotless officer’s uniform, his long hair pulled back and tied neatly behind his neck. When he reached the clearing he saw the gallows and stopped. The color drained from his skin. He swallowed, making a visibly painful effort to force the saliva down his throat. Then he began marching again, walking steadily toward his death.
But this is the end of the story. The story begins thirty-nine years earlier and 125 miles to the east, in the busy port town of Norwich, Connecticut. The story begins with Benedict Arnold.
THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD Copyright © 2010 by Steve Sheinkin