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

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

Nathaniel Philbrick Scott Brick / May 26, 2020

Valiant Ambition George Washington Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution From the New York Times bestselling author of In The Heart of the Sea and Mayflower comes a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between Georg

  • Title: Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution
  • Author: Nathaniel Philbrick Scott Brick
  • ISBN: 9780147524362
  • Page: 268
  • Format: Audio CD
  • From the New York Times bestselling author of In The Heart of the Sea and Mayflower comes a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution, and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army under an unsure George Washington who had never commanded a large force in battle evacFrom the New York Times bestselling author of In The Heart of the Sea and Mayflower comes a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution, and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army under an unsure George Washington who had never commanded a large force in battle evacuates New York after a devastating defeat by the British Army Three weeks later, near the Canadian border, one of his favorite generals, Benedict Arnold, miraculously succeeds in postponing the British naval advance down Lake Champlain that might have ended the war Four years later, as the book ends, Washington has vanquished his demons and Arnold has fled to the enemy after a foiled attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British After four years of war, America is forced to realize that the real threat to its liberties might not come from without but from within Valiant Ambition is a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation The focus is on loyalty and personal integrity, evoking a Shakespearean tragedy that unfolds in the key relationship of Washington and Arnold, who is an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington s unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.From the Hardcover edition.

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    About "Nathaniel Philbrick Scott Brick"

      • Nathaniel Philbrick Scott Brick

        Philbrick was Brown s first Intercollegiate All American sailor in 1978 that year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI today he and his wife Melissa sail their Beetle Cat Clio and their Tiffany Jane 34 Marie J in the waters surrounding Nantucket Island.After grad school, Philbrick worked for four years at Sailing World magazine was a freelancer for a number of years, during which time he wrote edited several sailing books, including Yaahting A Parody 1984 , for which he was the editor in chief during this time he was also the primary caregiver for his two children After moving to Nantucket in 1986, he became interested in the history of the island and wrote Away Off Shore Nantucket Island and Its People He was offered the opportunity to start the Egan Maritime Institute in 1995, and in 2000 he published In the Heart of the Sea, followed by Sea of Glory, in 2003, and Mayflower He is presently at work on a book about the Battle of Little Big Horn.Mayflower was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award and was winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award for nonfiction Revenge of the Whale won a Boston Globe Horn Book Award Sea of Glory won the Theodore and Franklin D Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society Philbrick has also received the Byrne Waterman Award from the Kendall Whaling Museum, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for distinguished service from the USS Constitution Museum, the Nathaniel Bowditch Award from the American Merchant Marine Museum, the William Bradford Award from the Pilgrim Society, the Boston History Award from the Bostonian Society, and the New England Book Award from the New England Independent Booksellers Associationom his website


    1. ”How can we draw the line and say at what precise point [treachery begins]when the treachery is in progress of execution, orwhen the mind is still wavering upon it? In short, how loose and slippery becomes the groundifwe stray forth in quest of secret motives and designs!”Lord Mahon, History of England vol. 7, 1854Benedict ArnoldI wrestle with the idea of Benedict Arnold every time I read any book regarding the American Revolution. He is inescapable. He was a dynamic, aggressive leader, and [...]

    2. I am at the point where I know that everything Philbrick produces makes for a stellar read. His works also make a good antidote to my lament from the Everly Brothers song, “I don’t know much about history.” That is especially true about colonial American history. With the help of a couple of McCullough books (“1776” and “John Adams”) and two great books by Philbrick I have gotten a fair foundation. With his “Mayflower”, I got a fulsome story about Plymouth Colony and a remarkab [...]

    3. In Valiant Ambition, Philbrick chronicles the life and tumultuous times of Benedict Arnold, America's most infamous traitor. I learned a few things about Arnold that I never knew and was reminded of several that I had forgotten. In Philbrick's capable hands A new Arnold biography would've been a great book. However, fortunately for The reader he goes far beyond mere biography here, and tries to understand and explain(Without justifying) what would lead a man to betray his country, in Arnold's ca [...]

    4. By May of 1780 the Continental Army under the command of George Washington had reached a point of no return. According to Joseph Plumb Martin, the son of a minister from Milford, CT, and a soldier who seems to appear at most major Revolutionary War battles, “here was the army starved and naked.” The situation had evolved because of the horrendous winter in Morristown, NJ, the lack of support and funding by the Continental Congress, and the weak infrastructure that plagued Washington’s army [...]

    5. Through the stories of Washington and Arnold, Nathaniel Philbrick gives a condensed view of the American Revolution. In his snapshot you see not just a colony bulking at a superpower, you also see a civil war. Inside the revolutionary faction of that war there are self-less patriots alongside self-dealing careerists. Like a novel it is laid out with scenes that develop characters through their actions that foreshadow a climax. George Washington, according to Philbrick is aggressive and tightly s [...]

    6. Nathaniel Philbrick’s latest book, A Valiant Ambition is a masterstroke of insight into two of the most important men of the American Revolution: Benedict Arnold and his Excellency, George Washington. To me, Arnold is one of the most interesting characters in American history. The fact is, had Arnold been killed at Saratoga, he would have also been one of the most revered. However, it is not how you start. It’s how you finish. And we all know that Arnold finished poorly. Philbrick’s work h [...]

    7. I enjoy reading political history and social history but I really dislike military history and unfortunately that's all this book seemed to be about, at least the first part of the book which is all I managed to read before abandoning it. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher but I wound up borrowing and listening to the audiobook from the library. The narrator didn't manage to make the book any less boring.

    8. Mr. Philbrick has written another excellent look at an episode in American History. In Valiant Ambition, he looks at two men in the American Revolution that occupy the opposite ends of ends of the spectrum of heroes of the war - George Washington and Benedict Arnold.The author compares and contrasts the experience of both men. He looks at their tactical abilities, their ability to shape the men around them, their political savvy and most importantly their ability to learn.In looking at Arnold, t [...]

    9. Our Revolution has always been a period of history I find fascinating. Since retiring I have been able to read about this and other historical periods and events without the guilt associated with neglected professional obligations. It's kind of hard to enjoy a good book when you have so many periodicals and legal advance sheets sitting on, under, and around your desk but that's over and now I can read with abandon. In the course of my retirement reading I had continually run across the name of B [...]

    10. 4.5 starsReceived from the Publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Valiant Ambition was a very ambitious undertaking by Philbrick and he did not disappoint. I first read Philbrick's work when my book club selected Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War. I was instantly hooked by that book and have recommended it many times. Needless to say, I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to read Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, adn the Fate of [...]

    11. Valiant Ambition is about Benedict Arnold's betrayal during the American Revolution. I enjoyed the last portion of the book the most in which the author explained how Arnold's treachery unfolded. I was unfamiliar with the details of how Arnold escaped and how his British accomplice, Major John Andre, ended up being caught.

    12. I have read a fair amount of military history over the last 40 years, but ironically not about the American Revolutionary War. So most of my understanding comes from the myths and clichés I probably learned in elementary and junior high school in Boise, Idaho over 50 plus years ago. History was obviously poorly taught when I was young. Most of what I know is just snapshots of events, with little detail and much myth making. So I have heard of the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere (not Paul Revere a [...]

    13. Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition chronicles the sacrifices of the American Continental Army as they strove to save America from a lifetime of British oppression including (but not limited to) drinking vast quantities of tea, wearing bowler hats as we walk our pasty selves to the red telephone box on the corner to make a call, apologizing all the time, and regarding Mr. Bean as a comedic genius. The truth is that the upstart Americans were close to losing the war many times over. Usually [...]

    14. Nathaniel Philbrick delivers another thoughtful analysis on the subject on the American Revolution and the heroes and villains it carted in the form of George Washington and Benedict Arnold. He explores the complex character of Arnold and the slights and personality that made him into the traitor we remember today. The book does a 30,000 foot view of key events like the battle of Saratoga, the plots against Washington culminating in the Conway Cabal and then a deep dive on Benedict Arnold around [...]

    15. This book is a useful overview of Benedict Arnold’s military career, and of the personality traits that made him initially a hero, and then led him into treachery. It is a plausible narrative of Arnold as the deeply flawed hero, who might not have gone rogue had he taken a different path at a number of critical points. Philbrick contrasts the deterioration of his character with the growth of Washington’s as they face challenges.James Wilkinson has an interesting minor role in this story as a [...]

    16. What research! The only thing it lost for me was in the small minutia of detail and associations, I rather got "lost" in the length of the book. But what a deep, deep characterization of Benedict Arnold. And for so many numerous other generals, and all around movers and shakers of the American Revolution. The photos and the drawings from the time were 5 star outstanding. So much of the beginnings of the USA hung by a thread. And on the personality components of a few people too, IMHO.Peggy Arnol [...]

    17. The more history books I read the more I am disappointed at the minuscule amounts of history we learned in school. I realize that there is only so much time in our classes but I wish our teachers had encouraged us to try to read more history in our free time.This book is a prime example. Ask almost anyone you know about Benedict Arnold and they will say he was a horrible traitor in the Revolutionary War. As a matter of fact, he is probably the most famous traitor in American history.But there is [...]

    18. “We shall never be able to defend a post until we shoot a general.” This quote by John Adams, in a letter to his wife describing the pragmatic if less then heroic abandonment of Ft. Ticonderoga to superior British forces, captures a gimlet-eyed view of the Revolution you probably never heard in Grade School. This is no purely hagiographic account of Olympian patriots, civilian or military, sacrificing all personal reward for the good of the "country," such as it was, in its tenuous infancy. [...]

    19. I love me some history and the American Revolution is high on my list of topics. In this book, Nathaniel Philbrick gives a more level look at the downfall of Benedict Arnold without excusing his behavior. In short, there are plenty of villains, bootlickers, opportunists, vainglorious pips, and egoists to go around in the story of our nation's birth. Philbrick gives the wide-lens view.I already knew that Arnold, injured twice in battle, came two early deaths close to being remembered as a nationa [...]

    20. My first book written by Nathaniel Philbrick. A very good effort on a very important and also complicated topic - Washington and Benedict Arnold. The book takes us through most of the Revolutionary War and focuses on a lot of Battles or skirmishes that I never was even aware of! The battles are supplemented by many maps of the battlefields and fortifications and there are a lot of sketches and drawings in the photo section of the book that allows the reader to put faces to the names.We see Washi [...]

    21. “By threatening to destroy the newly created republic through, ironically, his own betrayal, Arnold gave this nation of traitors the greatest of gifts; a myth of creation. The American people had come to revere George Washington, but a hero alone was not sufficient to bring them together. Now they had the despised villain Benedict Arnold. They knew both what they were fighting for – and against.” The American Revolution had everything: men with super-inflated egos, untried military officer [...]

    22. This is a fascinating--but ultimately somewhat unsatisfying--book. The volume juxtaposes Benedict Arnold and George Washington. The title indicates the link between them. Valiance and ambition. Both demonstrated great valor and both had ambitions.One sees that with Washington during the French and Indian War. He felt underappreciated by the British--ambition not realized. He also showed great valor--such as after Braddock's defeat. In the Revolutionary War, he showed almost reckless valor, takin [...]

    23. Through much of the book the reader finds themselves wondering how America won the war at all given the poor training and military defeats they experienced. The personality clashes of individual generals and Congressmen as they sought to gain personal glory and profit with America coming in second to their ambition, seems like it should have destroyed the country before the first year of war was out. In the end Philbrick believes that it was Arnold's treachery that in fact brought America togeth [...]

    24. This is a well researched, deftly written account of how the United States nearly lost the Revolution.In the process Philbrick provides an analysis of the personalities of both George Washington and Benedict Arnold, two men who were comrades in arms and very much alike in many ways. The author also uncovers where these two personalities diverged and why one became a hero and the other a traitor. A great portion of the first two thirds of the book dissects many of the shattering divisions between [...]

    25. I guess my tastes are running towards non-fiction these days.Very interesting and well written from page one. So much detail that contradicts schoolyard mythology. Came to the end and suffered a severe let down. Events come to a quick conclusion with Arnold effecting a rapid escape. The author doesn't follow much of Arnold's life after his defection. A few things here and there but we don't learn of his final years or much about the consequences of his actions. It seems the author ran out of ste [...]

    26. A few interesting anecdotes, but not a compelling read. Nothing new, for one, and the author's snide, resentful tone as to Washington and the Revolution comes across as petulance. Clearly, his sympathy for Benedict Arnold surpasses any regard he might have for Washington. To be sure, Arnold had reason to feel cheated by the Continental Congress in some ways, but his betrayal of the Americans was unbalanced and inexcusable. Some comments made by the author, such as the assertion that the founding [...]

    27. Philbrick is hit or miss with me, and this was definitely a miss, which pains me to say. I was so excited about this book as I've been taking a break from Civil War reads to learn more about the Revolution. It definitely wasn't the read I thought it was going to be which was disappointing, but even what it did end up being was incredibly boring and bogged down with a lot of battle detail. I could have done with less of that and more story-telling and overall information. I coudn't get the feel f [...]

    28. The war for Independence has long been glorified in our history books. However, Nathaniel Philbrick looks through the layers and brings us a untarnished view on the history of the war.George Washington and Benedict Arnold were two men that became legend during the war. While the war raged on, the two men could not have been more different. Washington worried about the army as the whole and suffered from indecision. Arnold thought of himself and what he could gain from the war. Two men who had gr [...]

    29. This was my first book by Nathaniel Philbrick and I enjoyed his writing style very much. If you're interested in U.S. history and the Revolutionary War, or even just a well told story, I recommend "Valiant Ambition". The story centers around the period from 1776 to 1780 and the relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick delves a lot into their personalities, the northern battles of those years, strategies of both sides, and conditions both armies operated under. He pre [...]

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