J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Venues for Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick

Following up on Bunker Hill (discussed in most of these postings), Nathaniel Philbrick has brought out Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution.

As the title indicates, this book focuses on the Continental commander-in-chief and one of his most capable yet prickly protégés.

Philbrick describes Arnold’s feats on Lake Champlain in the Battle of Valcour Island in the fall of 1776, at the same time that the British army was driving Washington out of New York City. He follows the two men through their separate campaigns—Washington running into defeat at Brandywine, Arnold enjoying part of the victory at Saratoga.

And then everything started to go terribly wrong.

Nat Philbrick’s great skill as a historian is finding details and quotations that bring out the emotional core of a story. In this book he focuses on the two men’s psyches as they grew together and apart. He also argues that the revelation of Arnold’s treachery, coming at a low point in the fight for independence, strengthened American unity by providing an enemy to rally against.

I missed Philbrick’s first swing through these parts on his book tour, but he’s coming back through New England next month. Here are the venues:
  • 7 June, 7:00, Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center on behalf of the Lake Champlain Maritime Center, Burlington, Vermont
  • 9 June, 7:00, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester
  • 10 June, 4:00, Falmouth Historical Society
  • 15 June, 7:00, Barrington Books, Barrington, Rhode Island
  • 16 June, 6:00, Boston Athenaeum
Then three events at the Nantucket Book Festival:
  • 18 June, 9:00 A.M., “Revolutionary Figures on a Shifting Canvas,” Nantucket Atheneum
  • 18 June, 1:00 P.M., Mitchell’s Book Corner
  • 19 June, 6:00 P.M., panel discussion at Nantucket Whaling Museum
For more details and other venues, check Philbrick’s website.

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