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Lafayette in The Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in The Somewhat United States

by Sarah Vowell

Quick take

No living author does a better job of bringing history alive in a funny and relatable way than Sarah Vowell.

Why I love it

No living author does a better job of bringing history alive in funny and relatable way than Sarah Vowell. In this case, she brings to life the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero that Lin-Manual Miranda called "America's favorite fighting Frenchman" in his hit Broadway show Hamilton. In fact, it's likely that that United States would not exist today without both of these men, and Vowell's unconventional biography will entertain you with the inside story behind this unlikely American hero.

According to Vowell, America's long-standing love for Lafayette is one of the only things our country has ever been able to collectively agree on. For instance, when Lafayette returned to the States to mark the 50th anniversary of the American Revolution, he attended a party held in his honor every night for over a year. That's a lot of partying. Even for a Frenchman.

By the age of nineteen, Lafayette had already married and started a family. But he longed for the type of glory that the men in his family had historically earned in battle. (Notably, they had all died in battle, too.) Lacking a war to fight in France, Lafayette offered his services to George Washington in America. At the time, Washington was busy losing skirmishes to the British, and thanks to Lafayette's social standing and money, was more than happy to let him help. It was Lafayette who convinced the king of France to support the Americans in the war, helping to turn the tide, and endearing Lafayette in the hearts of Americans forever.

Fans of Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, and Samantha Bee are sure to enjoy this peculiar take on a lesser-known figure in the American Revolution. This is the best—and most entertaining—way to learn history.

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Member ratings (86)

  • Karin N.

    Oak Park , IL

    It's a testament to Sarah Vowell's writing style that I was able to learn so much in under 300 pages in such an engaging voice.

  • Jennifer C.

    Ware, MA

    I love Sarah Vowell, and I loved this book in particular as I am into Revolutionary War history right now.

  • Robin D.

    Salem, MA

    Sarah Vowell has a sarcastic and fun tone throughout this book. Makes for a wonderful read.

  • Aubree G.

    Coarsegold, CA

    Sarah Vowell is such a unique author. This book was funny and informative!

  • Christa D.

    La Jolla, CA

    A wonderful, enjoyable history lesson. Fast read.