- Product Author
- Harlow Giles Unger
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In this gripping biography, acclaimed author Harlow Giles Unger paints an intimate and detailed portrait of the heroic young French soldier who, at nineteen, renounced a life of luxury in Paris and Versailles to fight and bleed for liberty — at Brandywine, Valley Forge, and Yorktown. A Major General in the Continental army, he quickly earned the love of his troops, his fellow commanders, and his Commander in Chief, George Washington, who called him his “adopted son.” To the troops, he was “the soldier’s friend;” to Americans all, he was “our Marquis.” In a tale filled with adventure, romance, and political intrigue, Unger follows Lafayette from the battlefields of North America to the palace of Versailles, where the marquis won the most stunning diplomatic victory in world history — convincing the French court to send the huge military and naval force needed to win American independence. He then returned to America to lead the remarkable guerrilla campaign in Virginia that climaxed with British surrender at Yorktown — and earned him the title “Conqueror of Cornwallis.”
Lafayette’s triumph turned to tragedy, however, when he tried to introduce American democracy to his native land. His quest for a constitutional monarchy unwittingly set off the savage French Revolution and plunged Europe into more than a decade of slaughter and war. Declared an enemy of the state, Lafayette fled France only to be imprisoned for five years in an Austrian dungeon, while his wife, Adrienne, and her family festered in prison, awaiting the cruel blade of the guillotine. Based on years of research in France as well as in the United States, Unger’s biography reveals how American ambassador James Monroe won Adrienne Lafayette’s freedom and helped Lafayette’s only son, George-Washington Lafayette, escape France to the safety of his godfather’s home in Mount Vernon, even as the guillotine claimed his great-grandmother, grandmother, and aunt.
Lafayette is also a compelling romance, as Lafayette and his beloved, Adrienne de Noailles, feast at their sumptuous wedding banquet, dance at Marie Antoinette’s lavish palace balls, and embrace in anguish in the ghastly Austrian dungeon that Adrienne and her daughters shared with Lafayette for two brutal years. Inspiring and educational, Lafayette is the dramatic life story of one of the great leaders in American and European history, swept up in the cataclysmic events that spawned the longest-lasting democracy in the New World and prolonged despotism for two centuries in the Old.