*This review is for the audiobook version of Lafayette in the Somewhat United States*
This book was really fun to listen to. The actors were well chosen, (someone should put Nick Offerman in a Washington biopic immediately) but it doesn’t hold up well on reflection. She begins by talking about Lafayette’s return to the United States in 1824 and I got excited. I’d never heard about this! After a few anecdotes from his trip the book takes a turn into Revolutionary War history, which is interesting, but familiar. I did like the meandering nature of the book, and the audio version is very like a friend telling you a story, with asides and observations to keep it from getting too dry.
The book is structured strangely, I’m used to books about history having chapters and citations, but she has neither. I’m also accustomed to audiobook readers making an effort with foreign place names, and her French pronunciation was possibly the worst I have ever heard. I appreciate the author not deifying nor demonizing the Founding Fathers, rather treating them as people with strengths and weaknesses. Lafayette was portrayed as brave, bold, intelligent, and a bit of a dick, especially to his wife. Some of the tangents could have been explored more, especially Lafayette’s desire to capture Quebec (which I know almost nothing about), and some were unnecessary. The back half of the book is hardly about Lafayette at all, rather centering on the military movements leading up to the end of the war.
I think that for someone new to the American Revolution this book would be more interesting, but it’s a fun listen either way. It’s good to remind ourselves how much the “bootstrap” idea of the revolution is false, that without Lafayette, Rochambeau, and the French government we wouldn’t have made it.