MG – Real Revolutionaries (Series NF)

Real Revolutionaries. Compass Point Books, 2020. $25.99 ea. $207.92 set of 8. 64 p. Grades 6-8.

Braun, Eric. The Real Aaron Burr: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-56250-2.
—. The Real George Washington: The Truth Behind the Legend.   978-0-756-55890-1.
—. The Real Thomas Jefferson: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55891-8.
Gunderson, Jessica. The Real Benedict Arnold: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55897-0.
—. The Real Alexander Hamilton: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55892-5.
—. The Real Benjamin Franklin:The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55893-2.
Lassieur, Allison. The Real John Adams: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-56251-9
Smith-Llera, Danielle.  The Real James Madison: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-56252-6.

This series of brief biographies of famous American founding fathers focuses on presenting facts and dispelling myths surrounding their careers. Infamous for being a “traitor, turncoat, and spy,” Benedict Arnold becomes a more fleshed-out person in the well-researched, scaffolded explanations of author Jessica Gunderson. She succinctly tells of Arnold’s descent from riches to poverty as well as the resilience, skill, and ambition that enabled him to become an accomplished businessman, a shrewd businessman, and a cunning military strategist. Gunderson then sets forth valid arguments to support the claim, “His reasons for his treachery stemmed from personal frustration with the Continental Congress and the lack of recognition for is sacrifice” (26). Arnold’s absolute fall from grace is matched only by his initial desire to uphold the patriots’ cause. The book examines the slights Arnold felt from military leaders and the brilliance and fervor of his soldiering. It lays out the treasonous plot and describes Arnold’s ignominious life afterward. Each slim chapter layers the information nicely and builds on facts mentioned in the previous chapter, making it a simple but thorough resource for young researchers. Colored illustrations enhance the text. Includes timeline, glossary, source notes, bibliography, further reading, and an index.

THOUGHTS: At first read, The Real Benedict Arnold: The Truth Behind the Legend may seem repetitious. For example, the author relates a fact about Arnold’s battle injury in one chapter, then revisits it with a longer explanation or in connection to another point in a later chapter. However, for students first approaching serious research, this technique proves beneficial. The decision to layer in the information makes it easier to digest and understand while not distilling the truth. This slim volume can be used to demonstrate how to create and support a thesis for beginning researchers.

973.3 American Revolution            Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

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