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Steve Sheinkin author visit: The Notorious Benedict Arnold

About the Book

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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 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.
Click to hear (login- bentley/bentley) Steve Sheinkin introduces and shares some of the backstory for creating The Notorious Benedict Arnold 

Click to hear Steve Sheinkin thanks the YALSA Committee for selecting The Notorious Benedict Arnold as the 2011 YALSA Nonfiction Winner
Click to hear Steve Sheinkin accepts a 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction for The Notorious Benedict Arnold

Invitations to Explore

  • Arnold’s Battlefield Victories. To what extent did Benedict Arnold use great strategy in battle, and to what extent was he simply bold and audacious? Examine some of the critical battles of the American Revolution written about in The Notorious Benedict Arnold, and then, using the websites of those battlefield sites, map out or draw his actions. What could have gone wrong but didn’t? What did go wrong, but helped him?
  • Exploring the Continental Congress. Throughout the biography, references are made to the Continental Congress and the careful balancing act George Washington had to perform in order to get what he needed. These efforts frustrate Benedict Arnold at various points in his life, leading to his ultimate decision to betray the cause. Typically, students are not taught about the various personalities in the Continental Congress beyond what they might see in the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical 1776 (see excerpt at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqAdlkJDt7k&feature=related) .  Who were these men? How did regional politics and egos impact their decisions? Read a biography of one member of the Continental Congress, and compare it to The Notorious Benedict Arnold. Once you compare and contrast who these men were, and their collective strengths and weaknesses, perhaps you can use what you have learned to examine the similarities and differences in today’s Congress. 

Steve Sheinkin: "The Notorious Benedict Arnold"

Hero or Villain?

  • Most American history books refer to Benedict Arnold as a villain, a traitor. Yet, as Sheinkin’s biography makes clear, there were many times during the American Revolution when Benedict Arnold’s actions, approved or otherwise, created American victories. Was Arnold justified in giving up on the American cause? Did Sheinkin do a sufficient job explaining why Arnold made the decision that he did? Was there any merit to Arnold's decision? Was he treated fairly by fellow officers and the Continental Congress? In what ways were other colonists and members of the Continental Army as frustrated as Arnold? Is there ever a time when ending a war, rather than winning it, is more important? Was this one of those moments? Or like all the myths that surround him, was Arnold merely greedy for money, power, and recognition? Does he deserve contemporary admiration for his battlefield victories? How should the British feel? Is he “their” hero? Were British soldiers and citizens justified in reviling him during and after the American Revolution?