For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions

James R. Gaines, Author . Norton $29.95 (533p) ISBN 978-0-393-06138-3

In this absorbing and learned study, Gaines (Evening in the Palace of Reason ) chronicles the friendship of two great generals along with the American and French Revolutions, bringing great insight to both. He questions the standard theory that Lafayette and Washington had a father-son relationship and argues that the two men were the “founding fathers” of the centuries-long political alliance between France and America. This book is distinguished as much by the writing as the argument. Gaines’s fresh narrative of the very familiar late–18th-century revolutions is exemplified by his exploration of the important role the playwright Beaumarchais played in French politics. With his typical flair for including perfect, cunning details, Gaines points out that Beaumarchais’s nickname, “fils Caron,” sounded remarkably like the name of his theatrical hero Figaro. Thus, when Figaro debuted in the radical play The Barber of Seville , the “self-consciously savvy audience knew exactly who they were watching on stage.” Gaines also captures the drama of tense moments, such as Lafayette’s public call for a convocation of the Estates-General. This winning volume will likely overshadow David Clary’s Adopted Son . (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/16/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Paperback - 533 pages - 978-0-393-33351-0
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Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-0-393-07204-4
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