Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution

Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution

by Joel Richard Paul

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101151037
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/29/2009
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 742,989
File size: 540 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Joel Richard Paul studied at Amherst College, the London School of Economics, Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He currently teaches international economic law, foreign relations, and constitutional law at the University of California Hastings Law School, where he is also the Associate Dean.

Previously, he taught at the University of Connecticut, Yale University, Leiden University in the Netherlands, and the American University in Washington. He has also practiced law with an international firm.

Paul writes about international trade, globalization, regulatory competition, private international law, and the president's foreign relations powers. He is currently writing a history of U.S. foreign relations and international law.

What People are Saying About This

William Taubman

"Ever tire of worshipful accounts of the Founding Fathers' wisdom and fortitude? Then try this wonderful book about how an American businessman and two Frenchmen, a dramatist and a spy, came to their aid. A rollicking romp as well as a serious history, it reminds us of the role of duplicity, hypocrisy and corruption, and of human frailty and chance, in safeguarding the American revolution."--(William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era)

Robert A. Gross

"Unlikely Allies is an amazing story compellingly told. I kept turning the pages in eagerness to find out what would happen next. Conspiracies abounded, and hardly anyone was what he or she seemed. If the eighteenth century in Europe was an era of Enlightenment, it was also an Age of Deception. Yet thanks to Joel Paul's sympathetic portrayal, Silas Deane emerges as an unsung hero of the American Revolution."--(Robert A. Gross, Bancroft Prize-winning author of The Minutemen and Their World)

From the Publisher

"[A] keen, intriguing assessment of how personal politics might play out on the international stage." —-Kirkus

Evan Thomas

"Rollicking and surprising, this is history as it really happened - as it was made by all-too-human actors. Unlikely Allies is a lively read and an important counterpoint to Founder hagiography."--(Evan Thomas, bestselling author of John Paul Jones)

Gordon S. Wood

"An engaging and entertaining account of three of the most colorful characters involved in the American Revolution. It is hard to believe that their story is true, but it is."--(Gordon S. Wood, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Radicalism of the American Revolution)

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Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
ChadCarpenter More than 1 year ago
While talk of Tea Parties and founding fathers may be all the rage, the founding of the nation-as Paul's book makes delightfully clear-was far more complex, fragile, hard fought and exceptional than we ever knew. Indeed, this excellent and well-researched book should be mandatory reading for students of early American history. They'll not only encounter Revolutionary heroes far more heroic-and revolutionary-than those of the standard tale: a misunderstood and unjustly maligned patriot merchant who sacrificed all, a cross-dressing chevalier who dared blackmail a monarch, and a playwright who creates and is ultimately undone by Figaro. They'll also learn what "going rogue" really means. Reviewers will no doubt offer well-deserved praise for Paul's engrossing narrative and masterful storytelling skills. Many writers attempt to bring history to life with gunpowder and battlefield maneuvers, but when was the last time you couldn't put down a history book out of sheer fascination? Perhaps that highlights the book's true genius. It not only inspires a deeper appreciation of the political complexities of its time and the personal determination of its characters-remove any one and American independence could have become just another unrealized idea-it does so through the most unlikely approach: simply telling the truth, the whole truth. Thanks to "Unlikely Allies", to borrow from the late Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.
Scuba2EC More than 1 year ago
This is NOT your 6th grade version of American History! The odd characters who combine to perform actions that saved the American Revolution make this book hard to put down. It's hilarious and extremely well written - guaranteed to be a story about financing the American Revolution that you have not heard before!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting account of an important, but largely forgotten piece of the American Revolution.  The narrative was engaging, and it was interesting to see the halo of history pulled back with an inside look at many of the politics and intrigue that lead to France intervening in the American Revolution
Chatterbox on LibraryThing 17 days ago
"Reading history teaches us to doubt, to question, and, if we're lucky, to discover new heroes."So writes Joel Richard Paul at the conclusion of this fascinating book that sheds light on a little-known episode in the history of the American Revolution. While several of the best-known of America's founding fathers represented the new United States of America at the court of its first and principal ally, the regime of Louis XVI (Adams, Franklin and Jefferson, to name only a few), the real hero of Paul's narrative is Connecticut merchant Silas Deane who impoverished himself in the service of his country, only to fall victim to political infighting.The subtitle of the book doesn't really reflect its focus, which is primarily on Deane and his relationship with the playwright Beaumarchais (author of the Marriage of Figaro and the Barber of Seville), who helped him covertly procure and finance arms shipments to the United States in the months leading up to and following the declaration of independence, when the French government was wary of violating its recent peace agreement with Britain by supporting rebellious colonials. Deane, isolated in Paris, worked with Beaumarchais and shipped the goods to the US that led to the turning point of the war, the capture of Burgoyne's army. (The spy of the title is the cross-dressing Chevalier d'Eon, whose life, while intriguing, is peripheral to the main story; (s)he played no direct role in supporting the revolution. Paul has a real knack for making history spring alive -- I can almost see Deane's traitorous assistant sneaking into a Parisian park to place copies of his correspondence in a bottle where English spies could later retrieve them, or Benjamin Franklin lounging in his bath at the seedy boat/bath on the Seine. He's obviously passionate about restoring Deane to his rightful place among the pantheon of Revolutionary war heroes (and doesn't mind if he puts a dent in the halos of a few others in the process) but he makes a compelling case. I'm hoping that this is the first of many books by Paul; it's hard to go back over such well-trodden ground and emerge with a story that is so vivid, exciting and fresh. This is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the American Revolution, and it also offers an intriguing look at the machinations of power politics in Europe in the 1760s and 1770s. I'd sign up for any history class offered by Paul, if he didn't teach on the other side of the continent, that is...
StephanieCFoxJD More than 1 year ago
What a fun way to learn some truths about American, French, and British history - including political, military, and espionage history! This book is full of detail and is an entertaining and fascinating way to learn about three people who made the regime change possible, with many unanticipated results. The motives of these three, as well as those of the people they interacted with, are explored in detail. A murder still unsolved is examined, complete with motive, opportunity, and a little forensic analysis. Everyone who wishes to understand this segment of history ought to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An exceptional retelling of the intrigue and the deceptions that played in the politics of getting the aid and support needed to pull off the American Revolution.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am somewhat biased having grown up in Wethersfield, CT (Silas Deane's hometown), but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author did an amazing job researching the subject matter and presenting it in an entertaining, easy-to-read format. I also love that he vindicates Deane (a hero of mine) against the claims that he was a traitor to the revolution, pointing out that there were those in Congress who had personal grudges against him. They sullied his reputation while the whole time he's out trying to secure France's aid and getting virtually no guidance or assistance from those who sent him. Then Ben Franklin shows up in the 11th hour and gets all the credit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't pretend to be an "expert" on American history, so I cannot truly attest to historical accuracy of the research, but this book is incredibly enjoyable informational reading! The "characters" draw you in entirely and the hidden truths of how our independence was choreographed are incredible. I highly recommend this for any history buff in school or out - but this would make a fantastic subject for a book report!
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