Jim Murphy has done it again — crafted a work of non-fiction so compelling that it will keep kids hooked like an action-packed novel. The fact that Benedict Arnold’s life reads like a novel helps. Murphy asks important questions about the man whose name has become synonymous with the word “traitor” and explores those questions with an open mind and an eye for historical detail. THE REAL BENEDICT ARNOLD takes a look at the man behind the label, his early days of the war, his motivations, and the reasons for the decision that ultimately made him infamous.
This is a fascinating book — one that I’m recommending to teachers as a companion to my own middle grade historical novel SPITFIRE, which tells the story of two young people who were with Benedict Arnold’s fleet on Lake Champlain in the fall of 1776. Just as Murphy’s AN AMERICAN PLAGUE is a perfect complement to Laurie Halse Anderson’s FEVER, this book will prove to be an invaluable resource for teachers looking to add some non-fiction to classroom libraries and discussions.