Dear Great Book Guru, Fourth of July in Sea Cliff is one of my favorite times: it starts on the Eve at the Children’s Library. First there is the decorating of bikes, trikes, strollers, and carriages followed by the iconic “Happy Birthday, USA” with songs and music for and by all ages. On the Fourth itself there is the reading of the Declaration on the Village Green and a parade down Sea Cliff Avenue. When all this is done, I would like to throw myself into a good book. Any suggestions? Fervent Fan of the Fourth
Dear Fervent Fan of the Fourth, I just finished a fascinating book about one of America’s most hated historical figures: Benedict Arnold. In Stephen Brumwell’s TURNCOAT, we learn that Arnold was one of the bravest and most revered of Washington’s generals. Historians have posited that he was overcome with greed while others suggest he had come to resent the recognition others were receiving. The book traces his enthusiastic support of the ideals of the Revolution to his villainous betrayal of the cause. Brumwell comes to the radical conclusion that Arnold was the ultimate patriot: he believed America’s best interests would be served by ending the war, halting the bloodshed, and remaining part of the British Empire. To accomplish this, he was willing to sacrifice everything. A very interesting and controversial look at a man who has come to define evil itself. Recommended!