Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
3 words: enthusiastic, light, informative
But let’s listen to a Lafayette song
, because we’re focusing on that guy here today.
|(photo credit: By Daderot – Daderot, CC0, https://commons.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21104068)
He’s a big old important secondary character in the Hamilton story, but in Vowell’s book, he’s at center stage.
The dude was only 19 years old when he sailed over here from France to take on the British at Washington’s side.
And this is how we know the story’s true, because it’s too unbelievable to be fiction.
Sarah Vowell is a confirmed history nerd, and she’s one of my favorite writers of popular history.
The woman is enthusiastic, and I’m all about that.
And she’s also hilarious.
Besides filling in the Lafayette story with a great deal of her own panache, Vowell gives us the most perfect vignettes of his allies and foes.
“A patchwork of amateur militias made up of barely trained farmers, lawyers, shopkeepers, and artisans who, thanks to a hometown book nerd’s folkloric stunt, drove some of earth’s most experienced professional warriors out of a long-suffering city.
So, the moral of that story, other than never underestimate an independent bookseller, was that the Continental Army and its commander in chief had a soft spot for Chief Artillery Officer Henry Knox.” (pp. 84-86)
That line about independent booksellers full-on delighted me.
The whole book carries on this way, with fascinating anecdotes that bring historical figures to life, and it’s the most fun way (short of a musical
) to catch up on the history we either didn’t learn or completely forgot.
OK. All you Hamilton freaks… I know you’re out there. What’re you reading to go along with the soundtrack?