Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

3.82 (8,533 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the bestselling author of "Assassination Vacation" and "The Partly Cloudy Patriot," an insightful and unconventional account of George Washington s trusted officer and friend, that swashbuckling teenage French aristocrat the Marquis de Lafayette.Chronicling General Lafayette s years in Washington s army, Vowell reflects on the ideals of the American Revolution versus the reality of the Revolutionary War.Riding shotgun with Lafayette, Vowell swerves from the high-minded debates of Independence Hall to the frozen wasteland of Valley Forge, from bloody battlefields to the Palace of Versailles, bumping into John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Lord Cornwallis, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette and various kings, Quakers and redcoats along the way. Drawn to the patriots war out of a lust for glory, Enlightenment ideas and the traditional French hatred for the British, young Lafayette crossed the Atlantic expecting to join forces with an undivided people, encountering instead fault lines between the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, rebel and loyalist inhabitants, and a conspiracy to fire George Washington, the one man holding together the rickety, seemingly doomed patriot cause. While Vowell s yarn is full of the bickering and infighting that marks the American past and present her telling of the Revolution is just as much a story of friendship: between Washington and Lafayette, between the Americans and their French allies and, most of all between Lafayette and the American people.Coinciding with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Vowell lingers over the elderly Lafayette s sentimental return tour of America in 1824, when three fourths of the population of New York City turned out to welcome him ashore.As a Frenchman and the last surviving general of the Continental Army, Lafayette belonged to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction.He was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what the founders hoped this country could be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing, singular past. Vowell snarrative look at our somewhat united states ishumorous, irreverentand wholly original. "show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 18.29mm | 503.48g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Hudson Street Press (an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc)
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1594631743
  • 9781594631740
  • 298,050

Review quote

"Sarah Vowell is a Madonna of Americana." "Los Angeles Times Book Review" "I love Sarah Vowell's writing it's smart, funny, soulful, even educational." Nick Hornby "These commentaries are the thoughtful and thought-provoking musings of a genuine patriot one who loves her country even if its politics disappoint her." "The Seattle Times" "[Vowell's] a complex blend: part brilliant essayist, part pop-culture-loving comedian and a full-time unabashed history geek. The mixture makes her both proudly pointy-headed and forever entertaining.... Vowell's breezy style often disguises her solid craft and the richer messages below her work's shiny surface, so don't be fooled. She's a genuine treasure." "The Seattle Times" "Vowell makes an excellent traveling companion, what with her rare combination of erudition and cheek." Bruce Handy, "The New York Times Book Review" "For those of us who'd rather harvest our history lessons from The Simpsons than the History Channel, Vowell is a latter-day hero.... Fascinating." "Elle" "Vowell likes to explode myths and reveal hypocrisy wherever she finds it... Vowell is an American original... She is somehow simultaneously patriotic and rebel, cynic and dreamer, and an aching secularist in search of a higher ground. "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" "Refreshingly, Vowell doesn't have just opinions; she has beliefs... [A] singular mixture of whimsy, honest, and seriousness." "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" "Vowell takes as her province the innumerable eccentric ways that people manage to squeeze personal and civic meaning out of a world framed by pop culture... Her wit makes these stories funny, of course, but so do her curiosity and ear for vernacular, which yield further revelation and insight." "The Washington Post" "Vowell could make a trip to the DMV interesting. Delighting in the ironies and oddities of America's past, she succeeds by telling history through her own skewed filter." "The Baltimore Sun" "Droll, intelligent, and persuasive." "Entertainment Weekly" "Sarah Vowell's canny brand of humor, complaint, and cultural acuity will no doubt be heard for some time to come." "Harper's Bazaar""show more

About Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowellis the bestselling author of "Unfamiliar Fishes, The Wordy Shipmates, Assassination Vacation, "and" The Partly Cloudy Patriot.""show more

Rating details

8,533 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 24% (2,021)
4 45% (3,833)
3 24% (2,057)
2 5% (404)
1 3% (218)
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