Valiant Ambition

  • by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 13 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of In The Heart of the Sea and Mayflower comes a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold.
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, Washington's unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.

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What the Critics Say

"This fascinating audiobook is further lifted by narrator Scott Brick's impressive performance.... The times and the men, after all, combined for high drama. Brick's rendition captures it well." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fantastic book that every American should read

I loved everything about Valiant Ambition. Other biographical or historical accounts of the Revolutionary War tend to be dull, lifeless, academic affairs. This book brings the characters and stories of the Revolution to life in a vibrant way. From Washington to Arnold to all the men and women around them, the book breathes life into names and places that are not done justice by drier histories or accounts. Valiant Ambition succeeds in capturing the desperation of the war, and it even succeeds in making some deeper political and philosophical points. It is, put simply, the best book on George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Revolutionary War I've ever read.

The narrator is also excellent, making this already engrossing book darn near dangerous. Be warned: You won't be able to stop once you press play.
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- Ross

Benedict Arnold a complex and flawed character.

Benedict Arnold was a traitor but also a man who initially fought bravely and gallantly for America. He was arrogant and self-serving but was initially willing to risk his life for his country and the men he led. The book simply ended with his defection and a brief mention of a bloody battle. Personally I would have liked more details on his eventual move to England and what became of his wife and two boys. The downside for me was the narration by Scott Brick.
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- Majorie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-10-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio