An epic novel of the American Revolution, and the dramatic story of the rise and fall of Benedict Arnold
The Indians called him "Dark Eagle" out of respect for both his military genius and his ruthlessness. His men worshipped him as a hero--the legendary general of the Continental army who led them against formidable British forces. But as he neared the pinnacle of success, things began to go wrong, drawing Benedict Arnold inexorably toward the greatest crime of the age, one that would forever make his name synonymous with the word "traitor." Meticulously researched and brilliantly rendered, Dark Eagle encompasses the action on both sides of the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1780. John Ensor Harr traces Arnold's spectacular rise--outwitting the British at Valcour Bay; the relief of Fort Stanwix; and a stunning victory at Saratoga, the turning point of the war. And he also traces Arnold's decline--a wound that nearly cost him his life; harassment by the radical government of Pennsylvania; his sense of betrayal by Congress and his Commander-in-Chief,George Washington; and finally the treasonous triangle with his new wife, Peggy Shippen, the beautiful daughter of a prominent Philadelphia family, and Major John Andre, the Englishman she loved.
From the glory of Arnold's early days on the battlefield, to the wrath he incurred as he attempted to deliver West Point and three thousand American troops into the hands of the British, Dark Eagle is the extraordinary story of one of the most complex, tragic heroes in history.
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John Ensor Harr is a writer, historian, and consultant in the management and communication fields. He is the author of two books on the Rockefeller family. He is married has five children, and lives in Forked River, New Jersey. Dark Eagle is his first novel.Review:
From "There has never been anyone quite like him in American history, never a life of such triumph and ignominy. In this superbly researched novel, filled with memorable events and overflowing with famous characters, John Ensor Harr brings Benedict Arnold to life and asks us to judge him as a man, not merely an emblem for treason. If you like historical fiction, you'll like Dark Eagle." -- William Martin, the bestselling author of Back Bay, Cape Cod, Annapolis, and, most recently, Citizen Washington
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary has a brief listing for 'Benedict Arnold, 1741--1801: American Revolutionary general & traitor.'
As our American Judas, his name has become synonymous with treason, yet popular imagination knows little about him. (In contrast to George Washington, Thomas jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere, those other icons of the Revolution.)
In choosing to bring the story of Benedict Arnold to the public, John Ensor Harr has his work cut out for him, but his intriguing biographical novel, Dark Eagle, is up to the task. Like all classic tragic heroes, Benedict Arnold was a bright, shining figure before his fall, and Harr traces the background and stunning military successes of the man the Indians called Dark Eagle out of respect and awe for his exploits, in considerable and considered detail. He explores the dark underside of the American Revolution, the little known nooks and crannies of the history of how the "united States of America" was born. It was not the easy birth of national folklore but one filled with complications. At the time, it was not the 'sure thing' of later legend and many men of good will were confused. To separate from the mother country was a wrenching decision and one subject to a lot of second-guessing, especially at times of low fortune in the war effort.
It is easy, after the fact, for us to say it was all meant to be (so that the U.S. could go on to pursue its manifest destiny) but for those having to make personal decisions at the time, the facts were not always clear. Benedict Arnold, like all human beings, had personal concerns -- safety, recognition of achievements, rivalries -- all bound up with national politics. When he made his fateful decision to return to the British side and deliver 'one shining stroke' to them -- the fort of West Point as well as the person of General George Washington -- it was done on impulse nor from a single motive.
Harr is adept at pulling all the facts about Arnold and the war effort on both sides together, as well as capturing the mood and viewpoint of the times. How was the news of the Declaration of Independence received -- at the time, and by ordinary citizens? And what about the next year, when celebrations had to be organized to observe the anniversary? What emblems should be used, and what day should even be chosen? July 2nd?, July 4th? July 8th? Harr presents us with the way these things evolved and were settled as the story goes along.
The military campaigns are painstakingly detailed, and of particular interest are the naval battles, strategy and tactics.
But of course, the central character of the Dark Eagle, Benedict Arnold, is what draws us, and Harr has done a magnificent job of bringing him to life and bringing him forward to meet us on his own terms, unapologetic and unrepentant. We cannot help but admire many aspects of the man and finish the novel much less certain that in his place we might have acted entirely differently. -- Margaret George, author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII
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Book Description Viking Adult, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0670887048
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