Behind the Scoundrel: Author Highlights Heroic Deeds of America’s Historical Figures

In American folklore, villains wear black hats and heroes wear white. It’s clear whether a character is trustworthy or a miscreant. Challenging this perspective in his newest book, “Scoundrels Who Made America Great”, retired history professor and author Martin Henley takes a fresh view of heroism. Henley uses a dramatic event in the lives of six known scoundrels in American history to illustrate how disreputable labels can obscure heroic deeds. Using a narrative non-fiction style, Henley transports the reader back to the time and place these events occurred.

The following characters are highlighted in the events and situations that shifted them from a miscreant to hero – a label that was subsequently dropped from a historical perspective:

  • Wernher Von Braun designed the V-2 rockets that terrorized London during WWII. Today he is heralded as the “father” of the American space program.
  • Convicted of heresy in Massachusetts Bay Colony, a devout Puritan, Anne Hutchinson, set the mold for modern feminism.
  • Benedict Arnold, America’s most notorious traitor, saved the American Revolution at the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain.
  • Following his raid at Harper’s Ferry the messianic murderer John Brown became an abolitionist icon and an inspiration to Civil War Union troops.
  • In 2006, the World War II Veterans Commission awarded the convicted traitor Iva Toguri aka “Tokyo Rose” the Edward J. Herlihy medal for patriotism.
  • Clarence Gideon, a drifter, and four-time felon challenged the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 6th amendment from his prison cell and won.

    Benedict Arnold - American History

“I believe anyone interested in American history will welcome a deeper understanding of how personal character and Iva 'Tokyo Rose' Toguri - American Historymomentous events can produce a scoundrel and a hero in one and the same person. These historical scoundrels challenged the status quo in a unique way and made enemies, but each was a person of action and held true to his or her convictions.” said the author, Martin Henley.

“Scoundrels Who Made America Great”, published by Abbott Press, can be purchased through Abbott Press, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. For more information about “Scoundrels Who Made America Great” along with excerpts from the book, author’s bio and photos, visit www.martinhenley.com/scoundrels or contact Martin Henley at mhenley21@comcast.net.


Martin Henley is a US Navy Veteran, holds a Ph.D. in Special Education and is a professor emeritus at Westfield State University in Westfield, MA. He is the author of several books with topics around classroom management and teaching children with disabilities. He is currently researching a book about the historical significance of Lake Champlain. He resides in Westfield, MA. Visit his website: www.martinhenley.com.

4 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *