Monday, June 20, 2016

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States
By Sarah Vowell
Riverhead Books, 2015. 274 pgs. Biography

Sarah Vowell is my favorite history teacher.  She never takes her subject too seriously and manages to dig up all the juicy bits making the past seem much more real and relatable.  In her newest book, she tells of the teenaged General Lafayette whose search for honor and glory leads him to the battlefields of the American Revolution.

Lafayette’s journey introduces him to compatriots like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and a host of his countrymen when he returns to France for its revolution.  These are all familiar topics but Vowell masterfully uses original letters to allow these historic characters to tell their stories, in their words, without the gloss of retelling.

Everyone’s definition of a “beach read” is a little different, but this is my favorite kind.  Not too long, incredibly interesting, the right amount of humor, and the perfect pace for leisurely reading.  I actually listened to the audio version of this book and recommend it.  Sarah Vowell narrates it herself and her tone is perfect.


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