Title: Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold
Author: Jean Fritz
Series: Unforgettable Americans
Major Themes: Benedict Arnold, Spies, Biography, American Revolution
Synopsis: All his life, Benedict Arnold wanted to be a hero, with everyone admiring him—had he finally found the perfect thing to do to get attention?
For many years, I have enjoyed Jean Fritz’s stories from American history. She has a way of bringing people to life. Now, I get to share these stories with my children. My high schooler read Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold for his history last year, and enjoyed it, so when the younger boys reached this part of our study of the Revolution, we decided to read it, as well.
As a boy, Benedict was privileged. He was born into a prosperous family, and lacked for nothing—but he was a show-off. He did anything he could think of to get attention. He rode a mill-wheel around under the water, and walked the roof-tree of a burning house, for example. As he grew older, and their fortune evaporated due to poor financial decisions, Benedict made sure he stayed in control of the family after his father’s death. When the American Revolution began, he saw his chance to earn fame!
Benedict tried one way after another to prove he was the best. He recklessly led his men into battle even when it seemed hopeless—and refused to surrender. He was always plagued by money problems, though. One day, he came up with the answer to all his needs, both for fame and for money. He would be a hero and bring the war to a speedy end! The only problem was that not everyone followed his script. What was the end result? If you’ve read much history, you know—but read this book to find out exactly how it happened!
We ended up quite enjoying Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold, even though it’s long and I was a bit concerned it would be boring. Jean Fritz has done a great job of making sure we are disgusted with the right people. We found ourselves very interested all the way through. If you are studying the American Revolution, don’t miss this book—it’s a great addition!
WARNING: In chapter 2, Benedict uses the word damn. In chapter 3, Ethan Allen calls a man a damned old rat. In chapter 4, men curse. In chapter 6, Benedict shoots a Tory. Later, he says, “By God….” In chapter 7, he says, “we’ll have them all in hell….” A few pages later, he says some talk was “damned nonsense.” Chapter 11 gives a detailed description of a hanging (I skipped over part of it when reading aloud). Chapter 12 mentions the Virginia militia using a model of a man’s head for target practice.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above