Lafayette and the American Revolution

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A 2011 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman's thrilling account of a daring young French nobleman who helped bring victory at Yorktown and who became a lifelong friend of President Washington will fascinate young historians.

When the Marquis de Lafayette ran off to join the American Revolution against the explicit orders of the king of France, he was a strong-willed nineteen-year-old who had never set foot on a ...

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A 2011 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman's thrilling account of a daring young French nobleman who helped bring victory at Yorktown and who became a lifelong friend of President Washington will fascinate young historians.

When the Marquis de Lafayette ran off to join the American Revolution against the explicit orders of the king of France, he was a strong-willed nineteen-year-old who had never set foot on a battlefield. Although the U.S. Congress granted him an honorary commission only out of respect for his title and wealth, Lafayette quickly earned the respect of his fellow officers with his bravery, devotion to the cause of liberty, and incredible drive. Playing a pivotal role in the Revolution, Lafayette convinced the French government to send troops, made crucial pacts with Native Americans, and lead his men to victory at Yorktown. Includes source notes, bibliography, time line, and index.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Freedman, biographer and historian to the young, employs his easy-to-read style in chronicling the life of Gen. Gilbert de Lafayette, an unlikely but key player in the American Revolution. Opening with Lafayette's dramatic, secretive departure from France, the author seizes readers' attention up front and holds it with a straightforward narrative that relies on quotations and anecdotes from Lafayette's unconventional life. The book's 10 chapters recount how the aristocratic Frenchman, who disdained court life and craved battlefield glory, came to the aid of the Continental Army and ended up one of George Washington's closest associates and friends. Reprints of drawings and colorful portraits break up the text and put faces to some of the myriad names. From Lafayette's mostly fatherless childhood and military career to his exile for his part in the French Revolution and his final, vindicated days, audiences receive a multidimensional view of the general, who once referred to himself as "an American, after all--just returned from a long visit to Europe." A time line, source notes, bibliography, and index complete this thorough account. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Lafayette, the French aristocrat who came to America to help the cause of democracy and ended up becoming a trusted general on Washington's staff, is a legendary figure in the saga of the nation. In this well written and lavishly illustrated biography readers will learn not only about this aspect of Lafayette's life but also a wealth of other information about this fascinating man. With a keen eye for biographical detail, award-winning author Freedman once again offers up a book that will both inform and move his readers. Rather than just telling his readers about the facts and figures that made up Lafayette's life, Freedman instead fleshes out his subject and thereby brings him to life. Lafayette comes off the pages of this fine work not only as a mythical revolutionary figure but also as an indecisive youth, a sometimes impulsive leader, and a man who was cruelly imprisoned later in life. The art of biography rests in the writer's capacity to not only tell a person's life story with accuracy but also with heart. Russell Freedman has accomplished both these objectives in this work. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—This study of the marquis de Lafayette, emphasizing his service in the Revolutionary War, is a gorgeously illustrated, beautifully laid out production in an oversized format. Each spread contains at least one painting, drawing, or photograph, often in color. Freedman is a skillful, compelling writer and includes many interesting details and quotations. Unfortunately, there are no maps; one of battle sites and other significant places would be extremely helpful. Freedman includes a detailed bibliography, but his footnotes are not always consistently referenced, most likely due to different sources consulted. Still, the book as a whole is excellent, and there is little available on Lafayette for this age group. Jean Fritz's Why Not, Lafayette? (Putnam, 1999) is an enjoyable biography that more thoroughly covers the general's entire life; however, it has line drawings, no footnotes or maps, and leaves unanswered questions.—Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Against the wishes of father, family and nation, 19-year-old Gilbert de Lafayette bought a ship, escaped France and became the youngest general in the Continental Army, a teenager leaving a young wife and a huge personal fortune to pursue military glory. Freedman knows how to distill a lively and focused story from a swamp of information on a much-studied subject, writing with an acute eye for fascinating detail and significant facts. The volume opens with a mysterious stranger, a fearsome beast, musketeers and a humiliating episode with Marie Antoinette, and later the spotlight remains expertly trained on Lafayette as he fights at the Battle of Brandywine Creek, winters at Valley Forge, meets with the Iroquois Confederacy and corners Cornwallis at Yorktown. Lafayette's subsequent involvement in the French Revolution and his call for freeing American slaves demonstrate how he outgrew the "teenager in pursuit of military glory" to become a passionate spokesman for human rights. An interesting and useful commentary on selected sources rounds out another superb volume by a master of his craft. (timeline, source notes, index) (Biography. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823421824
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 88
  • Sales rank: 513,518
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: NC1160L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.60 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2011

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    An excellent biography of Lafayette

    Mr. Freedman wrote an excellent biography of Lafayette. It was a bit short, but still I got a very good education into this revolutionary war figure. There are plenty of pictures, and other illustrations in the book. If you want a crash course into Lafayette's life then this is the book for you. Enjoy.

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