Wednesday, August 2, 2017

League of American Traitors Blog Tour: Guest Post with Author Matthew Landis


League of American Traitors
Publisher: Sky Pony
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical



Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . . 

 When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.

First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.

I love history, but not in the old, awful, kill-me-now-please kind of way. My passion is convincing my students that the past is actually hilarious, shocking, tragic, disturbing, and altogether UN-boring. While getting my graduate degree in History at Villanova, I realized that there was yet one more way to do this: write contemporary young adult books laced with history to convince my students that past isn't as awful as they think. That’s a huge reason why I wrote The Judas Society.

Some other stuff: I love poetry but don’t understand it; I want Gordon Ramsay to give me a fatherly hug at some point; I tend toward the unapologetically dramatic; and (to my great shame) I didn’t read the Harry Potter series until last year. I’m also really good at covering up patent insecurities with self-deprecating humor (like this joke).


I asked Matthew Landis to do a post about Benedict Arnold. I wanted to give him the Hamilton treatment where we learn more about him and who he was beyond the fact that he was a traitor. His post is truly amazing and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

We Should All Be More Like Teenage Benedict Arnold 

The English poet Christina Rossetti once said, “Life is not sweet.” A teenage Benedict Arnold would agree.

Born into a legit, New England elite family with strong Puritan traditions, Arnold was expected to be awesome—a leader in business, community, and church. For the first decade of his life, things were looking pretty good: He was at a solid school, his dad was making money, and the Arnold name meant something in Norwich, Connecticut.

But his world started falling apart.

Between the ages of ten and twenty, Arnold experienced catastrophe: His father lost the family business, became an alcoholic, and got excommunicated from the church—all giant, horrible embarrassments in a New England society of rigid class structure. And then Arnold’s mom died. Then his dad. Actually all of his immediate family passed away, except for one sister.

Told you so, Christina Rossetti would write eighty years later.

But Colonial-era-guts and good old Puritan dogma don’t allow a person to collapse under the weight of life not being a joy ride. Instead of pouting, Arnold moved to another New England town—New Haven, Connecticut—and started a new mission to regain all his father lost. Within three years, he was running a crazy-successful bookstore and spending tons of time on the trading ships of his business partner and local merchant, Adam Babcock. Arnold’s most baller move during Mission: Bring Back the Arnold Name was rebuying his family’s foreclosed home in Norwich—and then reselling it for a profit. That could have been a purely financial move, but historian Jim Murphy hints that this was of an in-your-face, old-community-that treated-us-like-crap move. I tend to agree.

So the question is: Does knowing Arnold’s hardships as a teen help us understand his decision to betray America as an adult? That’s a dangerous query that opens historians to arm-chairing this whole thing; human motivations are complex and hard to nail down. But if you asked me directly, and my grad school professors weren’t around, I’d say “yes, most definitely” because the two key markers of whether a person is prone to commit treason (according to the CIA) are psychology and circumstance. As the Revolution unfolded, and Arnold saw his reputation and personal finances crumble due to perceived and actual sleights, it could be argued that he again felt his family’s honor slipping away. When push came to shove, he was going to side with whomever would grant him what he had fought so hard to get: the mad respect he was due.

Teenage Benedict had true grit. While sources are scant on how exactly he felt during those tumultuous years, it’s easy to imagine the sorrow and helplessness. But what’s harder to consider is someone today being able to summon the effort to get up when the perils of a not-sweet-life kept running them over. I’d like to be more like teenage Benedict Arnold, but pray I’m spared the circumstances that forge such endurance.

So here’s to reclaiming familial honor by forging your own way—just be careful that way doesn’t inadvertently lead you to infamous treachery. RIP, teenage Benedict.

Details of Arnold’s life can be found in a million places, but I rely on Jim Murphy’s super-readable The Real Benedict Arnold (New York: Clarion Books, 2007). The CIA’s recently declassified study in treason I referenced can be found here -, and the Rossetti work I quote is called “Life and Death.”


    2 copies of LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS by Matthew Landis
    US & Canada Only
    No Giveaway accounts

Thanks to the ladies of Fantastic Flying Book Tours for having me on the tour for this book. I am so excited to read it as it sounds totally up my alley. Check back this month I will have a review of the book up.

And thank you so much Matthew Landis for being on the blog today. And for that awesome info about Benedict Arnold. I really want to do some more research about him and learn more. You have piqued my interest for sure. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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