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.


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

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

Not his best Work...

I had been waiting patiently for another book by Philbrick, hoping for another classic to add to my book shelf/audio collection. I've read them all, and I generally like what he writes about and how. This one just didn't keep me interested. Oh, I finished it but I didn't feel like the story was as fulfilling as I had hoped.

Philbrick does an excellent job providing the reader/listener with all the history of how Benedict Arnold came to be, and does a pretty good job explaining the backstory on how he turned on his country and why, but he does so in such a (I thought) dull way, that I never really sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the next turn of events. The story just wasn't very exciting.

Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself, and maybe you'll have a different/better take. I just hope his next book will keep my attention.
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- Rick

Book Details

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