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Lafayette Hardcover – August 2, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

* 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 fanaticslike 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 (Library Journal, August 2002)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471394327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471394327
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Harlow Unger's book covers a biography that is stranger than fiction, starting with LaFayette's unique marriage and continuing with his fanatical dedication to the remote American struggle for freedom; his close relationships with Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and other world leaders; his exceptional military leadership; his continuing voluntary work for independence in his own country (including 13 months in a horrific prison) all the way until he died at the age of 77. Throughout the story, the mutual, unabated love between the Marquis and his very capable wife, Adrienne, provided even more dramatic episodes. Nearly every event was more amazing the the one before.
This is a detailed and eye-opening history of both the American and French revolutions and their great contrast. If the reader has trouble believing it is truly factual, he will be convinced with the frequent, verbatim letters and voluminous, documented historical references. This is absolutely a must read for anyone with an ounce of interest in western civilization.
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By A Customer on August 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book swept me away with its twists of adventure, romance, and military scenes. It is definitely the best biography I've read on Lafayette with its thorough detail and gripping narrative. Lafayette's story combines French and American history, and captures the moving love story of his marriage. It has been a long time since a book transported me like this one did.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is wonderful! It is very readable, fast-paced, and, unlike other 'dry' books about long dead historical figures, it keeps the reader turning pages, wondering "why didn't I learn about this great man - this Founding Father - in high school history class?" Well, in this time of cynicism where we all decry the lack of bona fide heros (outside of sports and entertainment), here he is - the Marquis de Lafayette! This book not only clearly outlines Lafayette's life and unbelieveable accomplishments, but also his ideals. He was a man who believed in liberty, equality, honesty, friendship, and honor. Without his brilliant military and political leadership, the 13 colonies would not have won independence from Great Britain. Without Lafayette - and France - the United States would not be, certainly not as we are today. The book also continues to describe Lafayette's impact on Europe, and his role in formenting republican revolution in France and elsewhere on the European continent. But always, he is true to his undying and immutable convictions about the rights of man. Even when threatened with horrid imprisonment and death, Lafayette did not waver in his ideals. He risked his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor for those rights. What a great man - a hero for the ages! A must read.....
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By A Customer on March 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book!!!!! It reads like a novel and provides a wealth of knowledge about this great man. I'm only 13 years old, and I've read this book twice! If I could give it 6 stars, I would. I'd give it 10 stars!! Anyway, I definitely reccomend this book to anyone who wants to know about the Marquis de Lafayette.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides an illuminating window to both the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Lafayette and his indispensable role as "midwife of liberty" are portrayed in a most compelling manner. The author deserves high praise for this work. The only quibbles are some factual errors on other characters. Contrary to the author's claim, it was not Patrick Henry that went to Monticello to warn Jefferson of the coming of the British, rather it was Jack Jouett. Also, the author lobs some erroneous criticism at Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and Virginians as a whole suggesting they were unwilling to actually bear arms to fight during the Revolutionary War. This is simply wrong.

Patrick Henry did actually bear arms for a time until others persuaded him that he was more valuable in the political realm than in military service. Thomas Jefferson, likewise, was actively involved in the political realm and such criticism against him is unfair. As to Virginians as a whole, this criticism fails as well; as the author himself recognized: the main force Lafayette commanded was composed of Virginians.

Notwithstanding these points, this book should be read by all. The appreciation for the sacrifices required to give birth to American liberty is immeasurably enhanced by this work. Not only is Lafayette better understood to be a truly unalloyed great man, not just a great soldier, but his wife, Adrienne, is a heroic figure in her own right. If there is another woman like Adrienne walking the planet today, I would love to meet her.

This book is a treasure of insights into a fascinating cast of characters and events.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unger's Lafayette is a brilliantly written biography. It is of Pulitzer caliber, and the most informative, revealing, and entertaining recount of Lafayette's extradoridany life published to date. It is not only a masterful biography but a valuable text on the American and French Revolutions and beyond.
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Format: Hardcover
Unger's Lafayette is one of the best written revolutionary period biographies. Most of us know Lafayette only for his American Revolution contributions. Unger's book takes us to the French revolution as well and Lafayette's key role in it. Here he tried to prevent the massacres that took place and personally paid dearly for his role. One can not help have strong admiration for Lafayette as a man of ideals, honesty and courage. Unger has written a highly readable and entertaining biography. I read his book on Hancock and was also imnpressed with Unger's ability to tell a story with an always interestimg prose.
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