Lafayette / Edition 1

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Acclaim for Lafayette

"I found Mr. Unger’s book exceptionally well done. It’s an admirable account of the marquis’s two revolutions–one might even say his two lives–the French and the American. It also captures the private Lafayette and his remarkable wife, Adrienne, in often moving detail." –Thomas Fleming, author, Liberty!: The American Revolution

"Harlow Unger’s Lafayette is a remarkable and dramatic account of a life as fully lived as it is possible to imagine, that of Gilbert de Motier, marquis de Lafayette. To American readers Unger’s biography will provide a stark reminder of just how near run a thing was our War of Independence and the degree to which our forefathers’ victory hinged on the help of our French allies, marshalled for George Washington by his ‘adopted’ son, Lafayette. But even more absorbing and much less well known to the general reader will be Unger’s account of Lafayette’s idealistic but naive efforts to plant the fruits of the American democracy he so admired in the unreceptive soil of his homeland. His inspired oratory produced not the constitutional democracy he sought but the bloody Jacobin excesses of the French Revolution."–Larry Collins, coauthor, Is Paris Burning? and O Jerusalem!

"A lively and entertaining portrait of one of the most important supporting actors in the two revolutions that transformed the modern world."–Susan Dunn, author, Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light

"Harlow Unger has cornered the market on muses to emerge as America’s most readable historian. His new biography of the marquis de Lafayette combines a thoroughgoing account of the age of revolution, a probing psychological study of a complex man, and a literary style that goes down like cream. A worthy successor to his splendid biography of Noah Webster."–Florence King, Contributing Editor, National Review

"Enlightening! The picture of Lafayette’s life is a window to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history."–Michel Aubert La Fayette

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Editorial Reviews

Florence King
Harlow Unger has cornered the market on muses to emerge as America's most readable historian. His new biography of the marquis de Lafayette combines a thoroughgoing account of the age of revolution, a probing psychological study of a complex man, and a literary style that goes down like cream.
National Review
Library Journal
Appearing at a time when there is a new wave of interest in America's Founding Fathers, this well-written and well-researched biography should appeal to traditional political historians and informed lay readers alike. The author, a journalist and biographer, makes no secret of his great admiration for Lafayette, whom he presents as a "gallant knight" and true believer in American republican and constitutional ideals. Critical of historiographical interpretations that have painted Lafayette in either a romanticized or a cynical way, Unger aims to recount objectively the Frenchman's contributions to the great events of his age the American War of Independence and the French Revolutions of 1789 and 1830. The first biography of Lafayette to appear in almost 20 years, this text is noteworthy for the attention it gives to Lafayette's personal friendship with George Washington and for its careful reconstruction of the role Lafayette played in diplomatic and economic issues of importance to the fledgling American nation. Unger implies that Lafayette's "distaste for political leadership" and his consistent rejection of both political and military power may have played a role in allowing "madmen and fanatics" like Robespierre to rise to power. Although his biases against the French radical republicans are clear, Unger has succeeded in his goal of restoring Lafayette to his rightful place in Western political history. For all libraries. Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
From the Publisher
* "...Here is an admirable account of his life and extraordinary career on both sides of the Atlantic...." (Sunday Telegraph, 11 January 2004)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471394327
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/19/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 260,767
  • Product dimensions: 1.13 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Meet the Author

HARLOW GILES UNGER is the author of Noah Webster and John Hancock (both from Wiley). A veteran journalist, he was a foreign news editor at the New York Herald Tribune Overseas Service and a foreign correspondent for the Times and the Sunday Times (London). The author of eight books on American education, he lives in New York City and Paris, France.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.





1. The Young Knight.

2. The Quest.

3. First Blood.

4. Boy General.

5. An American Winter.

6. The Alliance.

7. Return to Royal Favor.

8. The Traitor and the Spy.

9. Ride to Glory.

10. "The Play is Over".

11. Conqueror of Cornwallis.

12. Completing the Quest.


13. The Notables and the "Not Ables".

14. "I Reign in Paris".

15. Guardian Angel.

16. Prisoners of the Mob.

17. The Most Hated Man in Europe.

18. The Prisoners of Olmutz.

19. Resurrection.

10. Apotheosis.

21. Les Adieux.



Selected Bibliography of Principal Sources.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2002

    Objectivity is Dead!!!

    It seems inevitable in biographical writing that one becomes either attached to, or repulsed by, one's subject matter. There is little doubt that Mr. Unger is a HUGE fan of Lafayette. It impacts on his interpretations of the primary material and his overall portrayal of Lafayette. Lafayette was a complicated, if not at times confused, individual and deserves a more objective biography than this. While not necessasarily poorly written, Lafayette is not the in-depth, objectively written biography of Lafayette needed today. No doubt Lafayette was a idealistic and admirable figure, but he was also human. I would recommend one read Noel Gerson or Louis Gottschalk's biographies of Lafayette and skip this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2012

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