I liked this book just fine. I am trying to figure out if I will never read any more of Sarah Vowell’s books or all of them. I think my issue is that I have to imagine it’s a lot of the same. Not to say that the different subject matters don’t change, but the format is similar.
I listened to the audiobook version which has the same issue. You have to love Sarah Vowell’s voice, which is fine by me, but more so you have to love the constant intrusion of other, often familiar voices reading the too-short quotations the book employs. The quotations are too short and don’t always make the case the book wants them too, so the changing voices can be kind of jarring.
The story here is to look into the various ways that Lafayette, like the French general, played into American history from his role in the pre-Revolution, the Revolution and after
I found the various stories very interesting. It didn’t occur to me just how young he was when he volunteered for service. Also the book makes an argument that his being a teenager, with his not fully formed cerebral cortex played into early rash decisions. Which is definitely interesting.
In addition, she makes the interesting argument that it might have been a better humanitarian effort had the US stayed under British rule because of the earlier anti-slavery push of the British empire. I am not sure if this would have necessarily been true given the boon slavery would have added to British economy under that situation. Who knows.
My biggest problem is that there just isn’t that much Lafayette in this book. There’s plenty, but this doesn’t feel like the “whole” story. I think more about his huge popularity after the war would have been welcome. Mostly this book lightly replayed the whole of the war, which is fine, but isn’t really fulfilling its early promise.