From Publishers Weekly
Personal friends and political allies, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette had one of the most important friendships of the 18th century. In this enjoyable study, Clary (The Place Where Hell Bubbled Up: A History of the First National Park) argues that although each man was a hero of the American Revolution, it was their partnership that secured American victory. Both men were orphans, and their devotion to each other was motivated by a deep psychological bond. As the title suggests, Washington was something of a father figure to the younger Frenchman, and Lafayette gave the general "unwavering loyalty, truly filial devotion." But the mentoring was not wholly one-sided: Lafayette was committed to the abolition of slavery, and Clary suggests that it was because of Lafayette's influence that Washington chose to free his slaves on his wife's death. The chapters on Lafayette's role in the French Revolution and Washington's anguish over Lafayette's imprisonment make this book far broader than the usual 1776 account. Occasionally, Clary gives over to cutesy Frenchisms (about Lafayette being wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, he writes, "If this was martial glory, très bien"). Still, on the whole, Clary has satisfyingly woven together grand military history with an intimate portrait of deep affection. Illus. (Feb. 6)
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In 1777 a wealthy 19-year-old nobleman from France presented his untested military services to the Continental army. Prudent as always, Washington tried the kid out as an aide before consenting to a command for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de la Fayette. After proving his courage with a severe wounding at that year's Battle of Brandywine Creek, Lafayette was on his way to the military glory he sought, and the Americans had in him an advocate for French intervention against the British, which they sought. As Clary shows from the extensive correspondence that Washington and Lafayette conducted, their relationship deepened into an unabashedly paternal-filial one. His work's tone captures the sincere mutual solicitude that arose between the two, characterized by gratitude from Washington for Lafayette's personal loyalty, and by near idolization of Washington by Lafayette. Clary acquits himself well in narrating the military action of the major battles in which Lafayette commanded: Monmouth in 1778 and Yorktown in 1781. Portraying youth learning from experience, Clary's history will deservedly tap the readership for the War of Independence. Gilbert Taylor
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