Allison Pataki quickly disproves the notion that American history tends to be dry in her new novel, "The Traitor's Wife,"
a fast-paced tale about infamous traitor Benedict Arnold that's loaded with sex, spies and scandal.
Pataki, the daughter of former New York state Gov. George Pataki, got the idea for the book, set during the Revolutionary War, from the history she learned growing up in northern suburbs of New York City.
"Most of us knew from the area that we had this rather infamous resident in Benedict Arnold. Many of us also knew that the British spy with whom he had conspired, John Andre, was caught in the area and hanged and that's how the whole plot was uncovered," Pataki told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV recently.
"But what none of us knew was that there was actually a very, very integral third character in the plot and that was Peggy Arnold, who was the much younger, much more attractive, very intelligent wife of Benedict Arnold.
"She had facilitated a lot of the plot because John Andre was a former lover of hers. So, when I discovered that historical nugget, I thought, that's a story that a lot of Americans would be very interested in hearing and so I set out to write it in this novel."
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Arnold, a general during the Revolutionary War, fought for the American Continental Army before defecting to the British Army.
Part of the plot involves what is now the U.S. military academy West Point, which is just a short way from where Pataki grew up in the Westchester city of Peekskill.
"[He wanted] to turn West Point, a critical fort during the American Revolution … over to the British, [which] would have likely ended the American fight for liberty," she said.
After the plan was exposed in September 1780, the Connecticut-born Arnold was commissioned into the British Army as a brigadier general. He later moved to London, where he died in 1801.
Pataki said her family's love of history, particularly how the Revolutionary War played out in New York, was "a huge factor" in her decision to write the book, her first.
"These very important events … unfolded right around my hometown and in my home state," she said.
Asked if her father misses being in office, Pataki told Malzberg, "He would love to help this country and his state in any way he can and so sometimes he is a little frustrated."
But as to whether he'll jump into politics again, she politely sidestepped the question.
"The Traitor's Wife"
which is published by Simon & Schuster and has received a starred review by Kirkus, is out next Tuesday.
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