To Go To Troutbirders Nature Blog (click on above picture)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dark Eagle

It was a very hot July day and we were on a vacation trip to Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Heading north though the beautiful Hudson River Valley we made a stop to examine a famous American battlefield. It was tramping through a wooded area that I came upon an unusual monument.   The monument is dedicated to “the most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army” though he is not mentioned by name.   Surely he was wounded though as we see a bullet hole in the boot. His name was……?

The Indians called him "Dark Eagle" out of respect for both his military genius, bravery and his ruthlessness. His men worshipped him as a hero. But as the legendary general of the Continental Army 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 illuminates both sides of the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1780.

Author   John Ensor Harr traces Arnold's spectacular rise, culminating in his victory at Saratoga and his marriage to Peggy Shippen, the beautiful loyalist daughter of a prominent Philadelphia family, and Arnold's decline, culminating in his plan with Major John Andre and Peggy to betray Washington and deliver West Point to the British.

In the best of historical fiction Harr paints a  complete picture of one of the most despised men in American history. Factually accurate with believable dialogue to draw the reader into the story  makes for a really good read.  No attempt is made to justify Arnold's actions but understanding the circumstances and his personality that influenced him sheds a whole new light on a true story.   The one thing that, at least indirectly, Harr does is reinforce the realization that self-seeking politicians with very large egos are not just a modern day reality in 2016.....