Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States
Sarah Vowell

Riverhead Books

Lafayette is an icon to Americans thanks to his unselfish and total commitment to the cause of independence.

Buy This Book



“. . . an irreverent look at this Revolutionary War icon.”

This young hero of the Revolution was a brattish and extremely rich aristocrat kicking up his heels in monarchical France until he learned of the American Colonies’ uprising against their British overlords. Like most Frenchmen of the time and since, Lafayette harbored a deep loathing of the British thanks to their frequent humiliating victories over France. Seizing the chance to aid the cause of liberty and to strike a blow against the hereditary foe, Lafayette headed for America.

In 1777 after a farcical few weeks spent in avoiding royal and official displeasure at his proposed scheme, Lafayette succeeded in crossing the Atlantic. First contact with the Colonial Congress didn’t go well. Confusion and over-reaching ambition on the part of American representatives in Paris had led to more European adventurers appearing in Philadelphia than Congress knew what to do with. It seems Lafayette gained maturity during his sea crossing. After the cool reception, he proved his sincerity and was sent to join George Washington. The two became lifelong friends and went on to share many adventures and misadventures in the fight for independence. The rest is history, and now Lafayette’s name can be found all over America.

In Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell takes an irreverent look at this Revolutionary War icon. The manuscript is leavened with her signature humor and wit, yet seeded with enough facts to show that not all the lessons of that long ago war have been learned.


Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews