The best books about Benedict Arnold

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Benedict Arnold and why they recommend each book.

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By Kenneth Roberts,

Book cover of Arundel

Arundel is the compelling story of Col. Benedict Arnold’s march to Quebec in 1775 on Gen. Washington’s orders to take Canada and the St. Lawrence from Britain at the start of the Revolutionary War. I’ve long admired Kenneth Roberts’ ability to navigate the treacherous path between history and fiction. One must stick to the history yet bring it alive through characters the author imagines to give the story drama and narrative power. Few writers of historical fiction have done it better or chosen better themes. Like Emperor Claudius, Benedict Arnold is a man of history worth understanding.

Who am I?

Following a forty-year career in journalism, fifteen of those years as a foreign correspondent, I started writing fiction and historical fiction. In the fifteen years, I’ve been at it, I’ve written a family memoir, Misfortunes of Wealth; a newspaper novel, The Paris Herald; and my first venture into historical fiction, Waiting for Uncle John, the story of our first attempt to invade Cuba, in 1851. As one commentator said of Uncle John: “If only President Kennedy could have read this book.” My latest work of historical fiction, Blood and Oranges, tells the story of Los Angeles in the 20th Century through the eyes of a family, two brothers and two sisters, whose members have a hand in the city’s seminal events.

I wrote...

Blood and Oranges: The Story of Los Angeles: A Novel

By James O. Goldsborough,

Book cover of Blood and Oranges: The Story of Los Angeles: A Novel

What is my book about?

An action-packed historical novel of twentieth-century Los Angeles that follows three generations of the Mull family, from the roaring twenties to the fiery nineties. Mulholland’s aqueduct unleashes unimagined wealth, growth, crime, death, and destruction in valley of the angels. There are oil derricks on the beaches, highways covering the orchards, buses mysteriously replacing the world’s best trolley system, gilded church domes in place of brick and ivy, floating casinos in Santa Monica Bay. Hollywood. Murder in the hills; fires in the mountains; riots in the hoods.

The Mull brothers, identical twins from Salinas, rise with the water that nourishes the new city. Willie is a fiery preacher who, like Augustine, can’t quite shake his delight in the opposite sex; Eddie makes a fortune in oil and real estate and a few enemies along the way. Eddie’s daughters, Maggie and Lizzie, set out to right the wrongs of their father, but then must answer to their own children.

Secret History of the American Revolution

By Carl Van Doren,

Book cover of Secret History of the American Revolution: An Account of the Conspiracies of Benedict Arnold and Numerous Others Drawn from the Secret Service Paper

So much of history happens undercover. Few realize that the American Revolution would have failed were it not for the courage of forgotten spies, as well as mysterious, inexplicable behind-the-scenes surprises. In this book, we find specific ‘secrets’ unveiled that made a difference in the fight for independence. Well-researched, it’s an entertaining and informative read. Expect to blink your eyes and smile, and discover the soul of the patriots. 

Who am I?

Maybe I have a passion for this era because I live outside of Philadelphia, or maybe because so many of my ancestors served in Washington’s militia while others refused to serve. Either way, the connection to the times are personal. Having researched the tensions of my Mennonite past during the Revolution, I found myself intrigued by broader challenges of conscience for the Pennsylvania colonists more generally. Discovering the role it played in British occupied Philadelphia was particularly fascinating. My interest is in the untold story, and what I stumbled upon for this book was downright exciting!

I wrote...

The List

By C.D. Baker,

Book cover of The List

What is my book about?

A fast-paced, meticulously researched tale of the birth of American liberty, The List is based on an untold mystery of the Revolutionary War. I wanted to bring to vivid life the occupied city of 1777 Philadelphia with a memorable cast of historical characters--including the British General Howe, Joseph Galloway, the unsung American Captain Alan McLane--as well as imaginary ones you will never forget such as the divided family of Archibald Browne, Whittaker Yates, Major Oliver Crippen and the beloved 'Grackle.' 

While the misery and dangers of war bring turmoil into the lives of the loyalists and patriots alike, the destiny of a nation hangs on the tip of a quill pen, one anxiously poised above a piece of parchment. The List is an excellent resource for any interested in America's founding principles.

Valiant Ambition

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Book cover of Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Nathaniel Philbrick produces what we call “Dad History,” but despite that, I find this book on George Washington and Benedict Arnold’s relationship to be the most exciting out there. You’ll be surprised at how much they had in common, but their differences matter most.

Who am I?

Alexis Coe is a presidential historian and the New York Times bestselling author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, which was also Audible’s best history book of 2020 and Barnes and Nobel's nonfiction Book of the Month. She was a producer and appeared in Doris Kearns Goodwin's Washington series on the History Channel.

I wrote...

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

By Alexis Coe,

Book cover of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

What is my book about?

Young George Washington was raised by a struggling single mother, demanded military promotions, caused an international incident, and never backed down--even when his dysentery got so bad he had to ride with a cushion on his saddle. But after he married Martha, everything changed. Washington became the kind of man who named his dog Sweetlips and hated to leave home. He took up arms against the British only when there was no other way, though he lost more battles than he won.

With irresistible style and warm humor, You Never Forget Your First combines rigorous research and lively storytelling that will have readers--including those who thought presidential biographies were just for dads--inhaling every page.

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