Lafayette: Hero of the American Revolution

Overview

The rousing story of Lafayette—aide-de-camp and “adopted son” of George Washington—exploring his vital role in the American Revolution.
In this long-overdue history of Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, acclaimed French author Gonzague Saint Bris recounts Lafayette's invaluable contributions to the American War of Independence and, later, the French Revolution of 1789. The first study of Lafayette to appear in almost ten years, Saint Bris’ new volume recounts the young Lafayette's ...

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Lafayette: Hero of the American Revolution

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Overview

The rousing story of Lafayette—aide-de-camp and “adopted son” of George Washington—exploring his vital role in the American Revolution.
In this long-overdue history of Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, acclaimed French author Gonzague Saint Bris recounts Lafayette's invaluable contributions to the American War of Independence and, later, the French Revolution of 1789. The first study of Lafayette to appear in almost ten years, Saint Bris’ new volume recounts the young Lafayette's personal friendship with George Washington, who went so far as to refer to Lafayette as his “adopted son,” and his pivotal role as Washington’s aide-de-camp in helping establish the fledgling American nation.
Lafayette’s presence at the British surrender at Yorktown is a stark reminder of just how closely our forefather's victory hinged on the help of our French allies, who were roused into action by Lafayette himself. equally absorbing and less well known is Lafayette's idealistic but naive efforts to plant the fruits of the American-style democracy he so admired in the unreceptive soil of his homeland.

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Editorial Reviews

Le Monde
“A masterpiece of storytelling. Lafayette was a man ahead of his time.”
Galleycat
“In his new book, Saint Bris shows us the Lafayette who was much more than a rich young Frenchman dabbling in a foreign war. . . . He gives us the man who used the lessons of the American Revolution to help France through her long journey to nationhood.”
Kirkus Reviews
A spirited, though awkwardly translated, reappraisal of a vital figure of the American and French Revolutions. French historian and biographer Saint Bris attempts to correct the prevailing criticism of the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) as naive, in terms of his dealings with the republicans during the French Revolution and allowing himself to be manipulated by King Louis XVI. Instead, the author portrays Lafayette as an honorable man, despite his class entitlement, whose deeply committed sense of egalitarianism was even "more determined and fervent on the eve of his death than at the age of twenty." In mostly palatable prose, Saint Bris traces the remarkable career of this "child of nature," born in the crumbling chateau of Chavaniac in the Auvergne mountains, fatherless and raised mostly by his enlightened but impoverished grandmother and tutor. His mother and grandfather brought him to school in Paris, and upon their deaths he became a rich orphan at age 13. However, his training as a soldier molded him, and he leapt at the chance to become a hero by volunteering to help the American cause. Armed with a letter of recommendation by Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette ingratiated himself with George Washington. In France, however, it was a different story. Charged with the ideals of American democracy, Lafayette championed the rights of man while also helping the royal family to safety. He was duped by both sides, imprisoned and eventually released only with the help of the grateful Americans who adored him. The author valiantly pursues Lafayette's later career securing Napoleon's abdication and as an elected representative during the Restorations and July Revolution of 1830. Despite unevenprose and an erratic structure, Saint Bris provides an enthusiastic portrayal of this "Hero of Two Worlds."
Library Journal
Saint Bris's latest biography details French aristocrat Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette's pivotal roles in the American and French Revolutions. It is a compelling story told well but with little detail. Having left France to participate in the American Revolution, Lafayette befriended Washington and other Founding Fathers, achieved military fame at Yorktown, VA, and returned home a celebrity in two nations. Lafayette, whose passion was liberty, vainly and arguably tried naively to instill these American notions into the French Revolution while serving his country in various posts during Napoléon's rise and fall and the subsequent monarchic restoration. He actively participated in the violent vicissitudes of this turbulent period, and Saint Bris recounts Lafayette's influential role, even while briefly jailed. VERDICT Saint Bris, who treats his subject as a hero whose only fault was not grabbing the reins of power during France's most vulnerable moments, is translated here by Holoch in a lively, highly readable style that will appeal to general readers. Readers interested in a more thoroughly researched and scholarly examination of Lafayette should consider James R. Gaines's For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions.—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605981819
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 5/15/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 936,786
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gonzague Saint Bris, who grew up in the last home of Leonardo Di Vinci, is a novelist, historian,
and journalist. his has written acclaimed biographies of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Balzac, and
Flaubert. Gonzangue recently received an honorary degree from the University of california at Berkeley. He lives in Paris.

George Holoch received a Ph.D. in French at Columbia University in 1974 and has since translated dozens of French titles into English.

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