Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Downloadable Audiobook - 2015
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From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette--the one Frenchman we could all agree on--and an insightful portrait of a nation's idealism and its reality. On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000. Lafayette's arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.
Publisher: [New York] :, Simon & Schuster Audio,, 2015.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9781442391093
144239109X
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 sound file) : digital
Summary: From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette--the one Frenchman we could all agree on--and an insightful portrait of a nation's idealism and its reality. On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000. Lafayette's arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

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neilahuber
Oct 26, 2016

Drawn to this book by my recent obsession with the musical Hamilton, I was pleasantly surprised to find not necessarily a biography but more of a light and enjoyably-written overview of the American Revolutionary War. I've never read Sarah Vowell before, and I found her style to be really interesting to read but also detailed about the matters at hand. Her thesis that America's history of infighting and disagreement being the main reason they were able to successfully transition (or at least, successfully compared to France) to a republican government after winning the war was very interesting as a way to frame the whole book. Highly recommended if you're a history buff, or if you've just become obsessed with Hamilton as many have...

k
kathylou
Aug 18, 2016

Though this recounting of the American revolution can be a little too detailed and mocking, it makes clear that it was a much messier and less noble event than what I was taught in school. Some of it is great fun and some of it revealing and some, not boring as noted by others but perhaps a bit tedious. But it's history!

m
marthabwaters
Mar 28, 2016

I thought this was really enjoyable for a variety of reasons -- it's clearly well-researched, yet Vowell has a very light tough, and it's laugh-out-loud funny at times. It also feels highly relevant, which is impressive considering its subject is over 200 years old. If you want a thorough understanding of the minutiae of the Revolutionary War, look elsewhere, but if you want an extremely funny, intriguing look at France's role in the revolution and America's at times thorny relationship with the French over the course of its history, try this book.

k
knitter2248
Feb 22, 2016

This is a very interesting book, a combination of biography about Lafayette, history of the American Revolution, comparison between a not united America then and now, and the author's research for this book. It's all of the above and none of the above as the author digresses in her narrative.

There is no question that the material has been meticulously researched and it's well written.

My issues with the book are first that it's style is too casual or breezy and my biggest problem is lack of an index and footnotes to document some of the facts.

I found it hard to take this book seriously.

bklyn74 Jan 18, 2016

I could not get into this one. Too much Lafayette, not enough about her exploring her subject.

r
Revacard
Jan 16, 2016

Sarah Vowell did a good job at making history interesting again. I did not know much about Lafayette, an interesting man. I still enjoy her stuff and the narrative she creates on historical topics.

l
lukasevansherman
Nov 23, 2015

I respectfully disagree with the other comment; I didn't find it boring, and I enjoyed her digressions. While I sometimes read more academic histories, I do like Vowell's witty, irreverent, and, above all, relevant take on American history. While some might find her a little glib, she always treats the historical figures seriously and finds a way to bring them to life in a way few others succeed at. The title is a little misleading, as Lafeyette (full name: Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette) is more a supporting character, and the real story is the Revolution generation, including Washington, Franklin, Cornwalis, and Von Steuben. For a more thorough (but less entertaining) treatment of the subject, check out "Founding Brothers."

n
nsteeves
Nov 12, 2015

I asked myself many times while reading this often boring, but occasionally suddenly gripping book, why isn't this working for me? Slowly but surely, the answer came: the title is a bait and switch. It is not a book about Lafayette. Certainly he is there as a touchstone, a framing device, but she doesn't tell us much about him. It is instead about getting at the truth of what it took to win independence from England - the body count, the humiliating losses, the French navy, the shoes. When Vowell digs in to the real history and battle tactics, the book briefly shines. When she digresses, though, in her Vowellian way, it doesn't work as well, because she just plain doesn't seem very knowledgeable or forthcoming about her title character, and that gets in the way of appreciating her insights about what she does know well. So, Vowell fans, read it for the digestible history lessons on diplomacy and supply lines, but know that you will learn little more about Lafayette than you did when you started. Non-Vowell fans: skip this, read The Partly Cloudy Patriot and Assassination Vacation if you want to try her stuff, and get your comical 21st-c Revolutionary War commentary from Hamilton and Drunk History.

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