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Comments for The Notorious Benedict Arnold

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: 03/02/14

cover art

The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin was shortlisted for a middle grade / young adult nonfiction CYBILs. It is part biography and part chronicle of the events that may have contributed to him eventually spying for the British.

The first chapter was a rip snorter — beginning with Arnold's execution. What the book, though, assumes of the reader, is full knowledge of what his treasonous acts were. Now if there were written for adults — I would have no problem with that conceit. But this book is written for readers who are still completing their education and depending on their age — might not have reached the Revolutionary War in great detail.

Later on the book includes lengthy descriptions of Benedict's command during the invasion of Canada as part of the Revolutionary War. Even being familiar with the dates and the areas of the battles, I found myself wanting maps and a timeline so I could see how one event related to another event. I suppose maps were kept out of the book since the narrative flows more like a novel than a history text. But without them I just can't recommend the book as a stand alone volume.

The book is best suited for older readers who are versed in the basics of the Revolutionary War and Benedict Arnold's participation in it. It works as a supplementary text but only as one.

Two stars

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