I'm Just A Soul Whose Intentions Are Good; Oh, Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

I had been aware of a not-tiny amount of scholarship invested during the past century in diminishing the perceived villainy of one Benedict Arnold from heinous to overly-proud (hubritical:-?); I first encountered the idea that Arnold is not what your public school teacher or ABeka book told you he was in the novels of Kenneth Roberts, the Massachussetts writer who during the '30s published absolutely wonderful stories of the French & Indian War (the real First World War, with France and her allies fighting Britain and her allies everywhere from the Caribbean to North America to West Africa to the European continent to East India to the Philippines) and of the Revolutionary War. Both his Arundel novels feature Arnold very heavily (every one should read Rabble In Arms at least once), and the way he tracks the general through his brilliant campaign into Quebec and his equally brilliant defense of the Great Lakes and upstate New York, featuring much of the political infighting and backstabbing that went on behind him, his disaffection with what was often mob rule, and most of all, his pride and charisma, really makes one kind of sympathetic to the man.

Last week I unpacked Kenneth Roberts' Oliver Wiswell, which as a teenager I had started to read but never finished...it's from the perspective of a Tory, and is not at all flattering of the Revolution...not the sort of thing I wanted to read as a teen. So here I am now, reading the book, and it is indeed wonderful, beginning with a tarring-n'-feathering in Milton, MA, coursing through the fighting on the Loyalist stronghold of Long Island, NY, spending some time with the espionage et other shenanigans in France, and now in the Carolinas fighting again. Five hundred pages of reading thus far, just moving along, following the protagonist, lah-dee-dah, when suddenly up pops Arnold! Mr. Roberts, I think, definitely had an axe to grind. It was at that point that I started reading once more Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered, written by an academic at the University of Houston (wonder if he knows Clyde Drexler?), and I can understand Mr. Roberts' fascination with Benedict Arnold...here is a character I feel sympathetic to, not (I believe) as a kindred spirit...or if kindred, only in this way: that he was complex, no type: not a demagogue, yet charismatic; independent and ambitious, but wanting the approval of the authority around him; moved not only by his pride to betray the cause he fought for, but also by hatred of the French and their popery...and the American government that stranded him up in Canada without supplies was dealing with those Frenchmen.

No use pretending it was not pride that led to his fall, but what an intriguing, charismatic character even through the pages of history books.

The epigram for An American Warrior is Ezekiel 28:12-19: "You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty...You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you..."

Benedictus...that is a great name, and so ironic in him, since so few ever dicunt bene of him. Also, "Arnold" means "honor."

Anyway...Benedict: name your children that.