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Lafayette  By  cover art

Lafayette

By: Harlow Giles Unger
Narrated by: Matthew Boston
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Publisher's Summary

In this gripping biography, acclaimed author Harlow Giles Unger paints an intimate portrait of the heroic young French soldier who, at 19, renounced a life of luxury in Paris and Versailles to fight and bleed for liberty - at Brandywine, Valley Forge, and Yorktown. A major general in the Continental army, he quickly earned the love of his troops, his fellow commanders, and his commander in chief, George Washington, who called him his "adopted son".

Unger follows Lafayette from the battlefields of North America to the palace of Versailles, where the marquis won the most stunning diplomatic victory in world history - convincing the French court to send the huge military and naval force needed to win American independence. He then returned to America to lead the remarkable guerrilla campaign in Virginia that climaxed with British surrender at Yorktown.

Lafayette's triumph turned to tragedy, however, when he tried to introduce American democracy in his native land. His quest for a constitutional monarchy unwittingly set off the French Revolution and plunged Europe into more than a decade of slaughter and war. Declared an enemy of the state, Lafayette fled France only to be imprisoned for five years in an Austrian dungeon, while his wife, Adrienne, and her family festered in prison, awaiting the cruel blade of the guillotine.

©2002 Harlow Giles Unger (P)2021 Tantor

What listeners say about Lafayette

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

WE GET IT! HE'S A "KNIGHT"

For some reason the author can't figure out any better overarching theme for Lafayette's life than his noble heritage. Every other paragraph he says something about knights and Arthurian legend. It's exhausting..

Otherwise, there is an extreme dependance on quotations. multiple sentences from countless letters. how many time do I need to hear Lafayette wright how much he loves Washington.

There is also no point of view beyond simple reportage of what happened, a rushed narrative at a breakneck pace, and a somewhat over reverant tone when it comes to the American revolution and it's figures.

It covers the basics most of the important events but kind of skims the last half of his life. the lament might not be as excited about what comes after the American and french revolutions, but if you write a book about Lafayette called simply "Lafayette", then it should be a complete look at his life, not just the most exciting bits

4 people found this helpful

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Remarkable Man, Above Average Story

The Marquis de Lafayette was a truly remarkable man. In a time where I question the loyalty of many of my fellow Americans, its truly inspiring to follow the exploits of someone not born here but who came to America as a result of an admiration based on the defiance of authoritarian rule by its founders and their vision for a more perfect nation. My criticisms of this book are few. I wish there was more original narrative and a little less reading of Lafayette's letters. They're not always that revealing; how many times do we need to hear how much Lafayette loves his family and wishes he was with them? As for the audible reading, Mr. Boston did a fine job with the one exception of replacing "cavalry" with "calvary". Quite different meanings I'm afraid and its misquoted numerous times. So with those few exceptions a great retelling of the exploits of a great man.

1 person found this helpful

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Breathy Performance, Iffy Writing

Both the writing and its performance could be better, but the point gets across well enough. A haigiograpgy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 10-16-21

How is this man not known more?

An absolutely amazing man. One of the greats of history! As always, Unger does fantastic job with Layfeyette and his research and insight is amazing.
Read this book! NOW!

1 person found this helpful

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Best in a long time

You have to like history to like this book. But if you do like history, you will love this book. The man was incomparable.

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Biographer a bit too infatuated with the man

I was at first relieved to read in the book's introduction that the author would avoid that contemporary historian's trend to turn every historical figure into a racist, sexist, repressed homosexual who instead of being celebrated as heroic should be tossed into the fiery pits of today's inquisitions, but... The problem soon arose that the author has used no critical lens at all to reveal the life and times of our Marqui Lafayette, and this itself makes the book a very tiresome read. In fact, I had to abandon it altogether about halfway through (just months after the Treaty of Paris, ending America's revolutionary war), because after around 10 hours of listening to the unadulterated praise of a man, the thing just became intolerable. Of Lafayette, the reader so repeatedly hears of "his zeal, his compassion, his love for freedom (etc)" that, without any (and I mean any) negative reflection to counterbalance such praise, the book begins to read like a teenager's first love letter to his snatch, but with slightly more sophisticated language. It is true that a great more can be discerned about those revolutionary times if one reads between the lines, but when every other line sounds like homoerotic worship of the perfect man, this just gets tiresome. That's it, I'm done.

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One of the best biographies I ever read

A masterful telling of a life well lived, using Lafayette’s own words where possible. A life spanning one of the most tumultuous periods in history, embracing both the American war of independence, the French Revolution,and the Napoleonic wars. A life touching so many recognised names and great men. And one of the most romantic and beautiful love relationships imaginable. If one ever wondered about the list of places named after the Marquis de Lafayette, this book ably provides the answer.

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long but oh so worth the time!!

Loved the book and the narration was excellent. I either did not remember my history or learned much that I never knew of the French revolutions. and Lafayette.

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A great take on nonfiction

As a lover of history, but not always biographies, I LOVED this book. The author focus his words on showing you Lafayette’s character through his relationships, rather than his deeds, which were many and great. Lafayette’s great love for his wife Adrienne is the backbone of his life and this book which is thrilling. It is true, behind every great man is an even greater woman. Lafayette’s life reads like a fairy tale. It’s hard to believe it was true! He is truly an inspiration.

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Excellent in every way

This book was fantastic. I’ve been interested in learning more about General LaFayette since I saw Hamilton the musical. Intertwining American and French and world history, this biography brings it all together, from pre-American revolution through Napoleonic rule and beyond in an entertaining way. I highly recommend this book.