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Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by…

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (2015)

by Sarah Vowell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6643621,638 (3.9)44
Recently added byprivate library, Shandi688, Geddieguidry, Mitch1, Suzanne.speterson, TCK, mrklingon, minfo

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» See also 44 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Inspiring excursion into history!

As always, Vowell does a great job bringing history to life with humor, and a keen eye towards the meaning for our age. Went well with listening to the musical "Hamilton." This also inspired me to pick up an audio book of Democracy in America. I know that will take me a while, considering other books (and audio books ) in progress, but it is another interesting French take on America.

I especially appreciate all the background Vowell brings to her historical explorations, and in particular her appreciation of the National Park Service, and the credit she gives them in her books! ( )
  mrklingon | Apr 22, 2019 |
An unromantic look at one of the more romantic of historical figures, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. The structure of this book is sort of like a ball of yarn played along a hallway by a kitten, with eddies of yarn popping us into a contemporary tour of sites figuring in Lafayette's adventures with the continental army, and his tour 40 odd years later. The lack of unity in what was to become the USA is a constant theme, a dark haze in the mostly humorous tone. Calligraphic caricatures that seem more whimsical than accurate punctuate the text. ( )
  quondame | Nov 9, 2018 |
Vowels has a quirky take on American history, and mixes in plenty of personal anecdotes about her research. She brings a fresh look to the old stories we think we know by heart. ( )
  bohemima | Aug 5, 2018 |
I wish all history textbooks were written by Sarah. This one is ostensibly about the American Revolution from the view point of Lafayette, the young French aristocrat, who defied his family to seek out fame and adventure in the new world. I listened to this on audio and while Sarah read the text, there was a great cast who spoke the thoughts and musings of the founding Fathers; Nick Offerman as Washington (perfect), John Slattery as Lafayette, John Hodgeman as John Adams and Bobby Cannavale as Benjamin Franklin. Recommend! 9/10

"What the French took from the Americans was their theory of revolution, not government. Their cutting, not their sewing."

"Jacob Ritter was so appalled by the day's patriotic gore that he had an epiphany... It says something about the ugliness of Sept 11, 1777 that this boy woke up a Lutheran and went to bed a Quaker." ( )
1 vote mahsdad | Jun 23, 2018 |
Part of what I like about Vowell's amateur historian take on American history is the way she is able to relate Bruce Springsteen to a 19-year old vainglorious Frenchman who defied his family and sailed to the colonies to volunteer in their fight for American Independence. This can also be distracting. Since I've always been fascinated about how we're all connected in the most surprising ways, these little detours are more interesting than irritating.

Granted, it's been years since I've studied or even though of the American Revolution, but I don't remember hearing much about Lafayette at al and he was an integral part of the war. In fact, if asked before listening to this book, I would have assumed Lafayette was historically tied to New Orleans instead of the American Revolution. Nor would I have said that the French were most responsible for winning the war than our underfunded, underfed, and almost naked Army and militia. But, that's just like America: we think of our past only as it gives us pleasure, and we only ever take pleasure in our role as the Hero. And, that is what I like the best about Vowell's work, and recommend it to anyone: she highlights forgotten parts of our history in such a unique and interesting way, her lessons stay with you forever, and she isn't afraid to point out our excessive pride and our faulty historical memory. If you're looking for jingoism, Vowell isn't the amateur historian for you.

As far as the narration goes, I thought I would enjoy Vowell's take on her own work more than I did. I'd probably steer anyone interested in her work to pick up the book instead. ( )
  MelissaLenhardt | Mar 11, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vowell, Sarahprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armisen, FredNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cannavale, BobbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denisof, AlexisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giacchino, MichaelComposersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodgman, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
March, StephanieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Offerman, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oswalt, PattonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slattery, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This continent is a vast, unwieldy machine. -John Adams, 1775
We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather-bed. - Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1790
The country is behind you, 50 percent. -Bob Hope, To United States Troops in Vietnam, 1966
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How did the Marquis de Lafayette win over the stingiest, crankiest tax protesters in the history of the world?
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On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been 30 years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000. Lafayette's arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted the country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.… (more)

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