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Lafayette por Harlow Giles Unger
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Lafayette (original 2002; edição 2003)

por Harlow Giles Unger

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1975109,649 (4.17)4
Acclaim for Lafayette ""I found Mr. Unger's book exceptionally well done. It's an admirable account of the marquis's two revolutions-one might even say his two lives-the French and the American. It also captures the private Lafayette and his remarkable wife, Adrienne, in often moving detail."" -Thomas Fleming, author, Liberty!: The American Revolution ""Harlow Unger's Lafayette is a remarkable and dramatic account of a life as fully lived as it is possible to imagine, that of Gilbert de Motier, marquis de Lafayette. To American readers Unger's biography will provide a stark reminder of just how near run a thing was our War of Independence and the degree to which our forefathers' victory hinged on the help of our French allies, marshalled for George Washington by his 'adopted' son, Lafayette. But even more absorbing and much less well known to the general reader will be Unger's account of Lafayette's idealistic but naive efforts to plant the fruits of the American democracy he so admired in the unreceptive soil of his homeland. His inspired oratory produced not the constitutional democracy he sought but the bloody Jacobin excesses of the French Revolution.""-Larry Collins, coauthor, Is Paris Burning? and O Jerusalem! ""A lively and entertaining portrait of one of the most important supporting actors in the two revolutions that transformed the modern world.""-Susan Dunn, author, Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light ""Harlow Unger has cornered the market on muses to emerge as America's most readable historian. His new biography of the marquis de Lafayette combines a thoroughgoing account of the age of revolution, a probing psychological study of a complex man, and a literary style that goes down like cream. A worthy successor to his splendid biography of Noah Webster.""-Florence King, Contributing Editor, National Review ""Enlightening! The picture of Lafayette's life is a window to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history.""-Michel Aubert La Fayette… (mais)
Membro:erasmus
Título:Lafayette
Autores:Harlow Giles Unger
Informação:Wiley (2003), Edition: 1, Paperback, 480 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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Lafayette por Harlow Giles Unger (2002)

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It took a certain amount of determination to get through it (to be scrupulously honest I did not read the Notes or Bibliography). That isn't the fault of the text as much as the limits of my own curiosity to the exact events of battles or constitutional wrangles as they happened. This was the biography I needed in order to learn more about Lafayette beyond his role as the hero of the American Revolution.

But he was so perfectly formed for that role! Rich, connected to the French court, a Mason, passionate about the democratic ideals forming a new country, having a thorough military education, physically brave in battle, charming and inspiring of loyalty in almost everyone he met. Who else could have been all that? All of the colonial governments wanted to help him which made a nice contrast with their bickering and backbiting with each other. His friendship with Washington went beyond its initial hero worship and both of them were very attached. I loved when Martha sent a list of furniture she needed for the renovation of Mount Vernon.

This was a wonderful insight into the fits and starts and bloody awfulness that was the French Revolution. Layfayette was a linch pin and an instigator. He was called to lead troops that became a sort of National Guard. He participated in the various incarnations of the National Assembly but he consistently refused to rule. He insisted on the drafting of a constitution and waited for his peers to participate in that process and share power amongst them. A hope that was dashed over and over again. The author clearly believes it was a tragedy that Lafayette did not take the reins in order to preside over the new form of government and avert some of the bloodshed. But I can't help but admire L's consistency. He averted as much as he could. I didn't realize how hated he was by the other Euro monarchies for bringing the American disease their way.

The book is a bit rose tinted about the virtue, beauty and resourcefulness of the female members of the family. But on the other hand they make a fine contrast to other characters to be found in the history of French nobility. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
What an incredible life! Born into great wealth, and married into even greater wealth at 16, Lafayette enlists in the American Continental army in 1776 and sails for his adopted country to serve in the fight for liberty - at 19! He does not receive a warm welcome. Given his age, his difficulties with English, and his lack of experience, Lafayette has great difficulty convincing Congress to give him a commission. But he is intellingent, passionate, and very likable and he persists.. Ultimately he joins Washington's staff and a warm relationship with the commanding general quickly develops. He displays great courage in battle, leading his troops from the front, is wounded, and manages some key victories, and perhaps more importantly, he and his army manage to escape from potential disasters - and survive. He also survives Valley Forge and negotiates a treaty with a tribe of Senecas. The relationship with Washington deepens into an "adopted" son/father union.

Lafayette returns to France a hero and immediately begins lobbying for French support of the American cause with money , ships and troops. Again he is successful and returns to America. More battlefield success. Now leading one of the Americans three armies, Lafayette eventually draws the British into a trap at Yorktown, forcing Cornwallis to surrender. Again back to Paris where he assists Franklin in his diplomat role and Lafayette becomes a key player in finalizing the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War..

Concurrently Lafayette begins his attempts to introduce American liberty in France. Louis XVI initially shares some of Lafayette's enthusiasm for reforms but quickly imposes limits. Lafayette rejects the King's propositions and his offer of key positions in the government. The economy turns sharply downward, pockets of famine develop throughout France, mobs form, and so begins a long cycle of violent, bloody revolt. Factions form - royalists, republicans (who look to Lafayette for leadership) , Jacobins. In two years, the French send one million of their twenty-six million men, women and children to prison. 200,000 are killed by guillotine including the grandmother, mother, and sister of Adrienne, Lafayette's wife. Lafayette is imprisoned for five years, several in a rat-infested, stinking, dark cell in Olmutz. Eventually he is released but lives in exile; Napolean comes to power, Lafeyette returns to France and continues to press for his 'American" rights and on it goes.

Now a reader may ask, "How is the book? Did Unger do a good job with the material?" Rest assured, he did an excellent job, telling the story of this great man in a tight 383 page, well written, well documented, detailed biography. He includes a number of illustrations, using the portraits and landscapes of the day (after all, Lafayette was French, and though a lot of art was destroyed during the French revolution, much remains) and he cited a good bit of Lafayette's correspondence particularly with American patriots and especially with Washington - all in a very flowery, diplomatic and emotional tone. For example:

Lafayette to Washington: ".....Remember our Valley Forge times........What a sense of pride and satisfaction I feel......You, my dear general, who truly can say you have done all this, what must your virtuous and good heart feel on the happy instant where the revolution you have made is now firmly established. I cannot but envy the happiness of my grandchildren when they will be about celebrating and worshiping your name-to have had one of their ancestors among your soldiers"

But for me the most moving and well done passages by Unger cite Lafayette's last trip (his 4th) to the United States in 1824, Lafayette returns with his son, George Washington Lafayette, at the invitation of Congress to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country's founding: "...dozens of ships jammed New York Harbor, their masts and stays aflutter with flags and ensigns. Guns boomed and church bells pealed from all directions, and tens of thousands lined the shores to cheer him as his ship passed by. Thirty thousand greeted him on Lower Manhattan when he landed: fifty thousand more awaited on Broadway to see the huge procession that would escort him up to City hall. At the foot of the gangway, a group of veterans in patched-up, ill-fitting old uniforms stood as straight as their crooked old limbs allowed. As he passed before them, each snapped out his name and company, and the battle where he had served with the marquis: 'Monmouth, sir'; 'Barren Hill, sir'; 'Brandywine, sir'....It was all too much for the old man and he burst into tears.' ( )
1 vote maneekuhi | Mar 20, 2016 |
I’m a first-time reader of Lafayette biographies, so I’ll acknowledge that Unger entertains by re-stating the obvious: Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de la Fayette was a national, military, political and, indeed, a paternal hero to millions in America and France during the American and (several) French revolutions.
There is no doubt that, despite the fact that he was one of the richest French nobles of his time, he was publicly and privately dedicated to republican government and a social/economic order that was far more egalitarian than the monarchical and aristocratic structures that prevailed.
Was he a great man? Unger, like many of his biographers, says yes. Lafayette was a courageous battlefield leader, he was an enlightened manorial lord who enhanced the lives of his peasants, and he was both outspoken and fearless, repeatedly, in literally dangerous political situations for a couple decades in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Unger amply—even poetically—demonstrates these lifelong characteristics of the man Americans called “our Marquis.”
I also feel obliged to call attention to some countervailing factors that Unger fully describes but does not adequately interpret.
Lafayette put his money where his mouth was. He repeatedly used his great personal wealth to pay and outfit the troops he commanded, when government funds and supplies ran low. I suggest a case could be made that the Marquis, uniquely among American commanders, paid for his military success in the Revolutionary War. Throughout the war, the options and operations of colonial commanders were significantly hindered by short funds and short supplies. If Lafayette had not been able to pay, feed, clothe and arm his troops with his personal resources, could he have been as winning a general as he was? I suspect the answer is “No.”
Some biographers refer to Lafayette as the “victor” at Yorktown in 1781. Unger calls him a “hero” of Yorktown. Lafayette was not the only American general at Yorktown, and he wasn’t the only French general. Lafayette did use his small force to isolate Cornwallis in Yorktown, but he had to wait until Washington, Rochambeau and others arrived with sufficient forces before he participated in the final assaults.
In France he repeatedly declined to step up to the plate and take executive leadership, during the revolutionary and Napoleonic convulsions, when the French people and the contentious military/political factions would have handed the throne or the presidency of France to him on a velvet pillow. The Marquis repeatedly risked his life to defuse explosive situations by his personal, courageous intervention. However, Unger fastidiously details Lafayette’s repeated reluctance to take the final step and take control when, arguably, he could have stabilized dangerous situations, and forestalled or prevented catastrophic consequences, by doing so. Lafayette wasn’t responsible for the violence, but, time after time, he left a void that was unfortunately filled by lesser men.
Was Lafayette a great man? Yes. A successful general? Yes. Was he a really lucky guy? Yes. Did he and his reputation benefit immensely from great wealth and fortuitous circumstance? Yes. Did he live up to his potential in serving France and the French nation? Maybe not.
Just one other thing: Unger profligately demonstrates that Lafayette and Washington had a deeply affectionate man-to-man—explicitly, like father and son—relationship, by using far too many excerpts from their numerous letters. No biggie, but I had to stop reading them about halfway through the book….they bonded, I get it.
More on my blogs:
http://barleyliterate.blogspot.com/
http://historybottomlines.blogspot.com/ ( )
  rsubber | Oct 9, 2014 |
Lafayette was an incredibly engaging and detailed read about someone who was pivotal to the American Revolution but that I never knew much about, if anything. The book used his prolific letters and it was incredibly compelling to read about him and the events of his life in his own words and the words of some of the most famous Americans in history. If you are interested in American history or just enjoy a great biography, this is a great one to check out. ( )
  Irishcontessa | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Acclaim for Lafayette ""I found Mr. Unger's book exceptionally well done. It's an admirable account of the marquis's two revolutions-one might even say his two lives-the French and the American. It also captures the private Lafayette and his remarkable wife, Adrienne, in often moving detail."" -Thomas Fleming, author, Liberty!: The American Revolution ""Harlow Unger's Lafayette is a remarkable and dramatic account of a life as fully lived as it is possible to imagine, that of Gilbert de Motier, marquis de Lafayette. To American readers Unger's biography will provide a stark reminder of just how near run a thing was our War of Independence and the degree to which our forefathers' victory hinged on the help of our French allies, marshalled for George Washington by his 'adopted' son, Lafayette. But even more absorbing and much less well known to the general reader will be Unger's account of Lafayette's idealistic but naive efforts to plant the fruits of the American democracy he so admired in the unreceptive soil of his homeland. His inspired oratory produced not the constitutional democracy he sought but the bloody Jacobin excesses of the French Revolution.""-Larry Collins, coauthor, Is Paris Burning? and O Jerusalem! ""A lively and entertaining portrait of one of the most important supporting actors in the two revolutions that transformed the modern world.""-Susan Dunn, author, Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light ""Harlow Unger has cornered the market on muses to emerge as America's most readable historian. His new biography of the marquis de Lafayette combines a thoroughgoing account of the age of revolution, a probing psychological study of a complex man, and a literary style that goes down like cream. A worthy successor to his splendid biography of Noah Webster.""-Florence King, Contributing Editor, National Review ""Enlightening! The picture of Lafayette's life is a window to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history.""-Michel Aubert La Fayette

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