Valiant Ambition

Valiant Ambition

George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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, Washingtons unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, [2016]
ISBN: 9780525426783
Branch Call Number: 973.382 WASHI PHILB
Characteristics: xix, 427 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

A look at the American Revolution through the lens of loyalty and personal intergrity.

This is a historical book chock full of details unknown to most Americans. What makes a book of this type relevant to those of us living in Greenwich is that it tells the story of our history with references to many places we all know and have visited. It provides interesting insights to battles ... Read More »

This is a nonfiction account of the middle years of the Revolutionary War, focusing on two dominant but different American generals, George Washington and Benedict Arnold.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 30, 2019

Good read, lots of focus on Genl Arnold and Major Andre. Kept me engaged, and really developed Arnold's character. Good stuff about Peggy Shippen too. Tied all the major players together very well and gave me a sense for the circumstances around Arnold's treason. Epilogue nicely tied up the real meaning to America of Arnold's defection.

Nov 09, 2016

A good bet for any Philbrick fan (which I am already) - and better than most since it has a strong human drama at its heart. A careful appraisal of the man Arnold, both sympathetic and unapologetic of his flaws, showing fundamental humanity as well as the dynamic shifts in his person that led to the act of betrayal.
Philbrick even credits this event with eventual redemptive good, as the American people thought about what their ideals were in a new way.

Aug 15, 2016

So what made America's greatest military man flip to the British? Two battlefield injuries that went unrecognized, being passed over for promotion within the ranks several times, and wrongful accusations of malfeasance while serving as Mayor of Philadelphia. Perhaps it was greed, or perhaps he just reached the breaking point. Either way, the unsuccessful surrender of West Point to the British was the turning point of the American Revolution. Philbrick gives a great background as to how it all happened.

Jun 29, 2016

Great story to bring the history of the American Revolution into context, warts and all. the book confirms why Washington is such a great man.

Jun 27, 2016

This is a follow up to Philbrick's excellent "Bunker Hill" and will be followed by a book on Yorktown in a few years.
I saw Philbrick speak recently about the book and I could tell he had a deep fascination with Benedict Arnold. The Arnold story is very interesting and I was caught up with it until he was military governor of Philadelphia and I have to admit I wasn't as taken with his story as with Joseph Warren's in the first book of the trilogy.
Even with my lack of enthusiasm for the Arnold story, I am very appreciative for Philbrick's solid writing and his description of the factions in Congress and the differences between loyalists and patriots, and the economics classes. I also have learned more about George Washington and his character by reading this series. I look forward to "Yorktown" and films that may be spawned by this rock solid and engaging series.

Jun 02, 2016

Really puts you on the ground during the long slog of the American Revolution. Very convincing thesis that Benedict Arnold's heroics and ultimate treason woke up American leaders and united them to fund and finish the war.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at GL

To Top