Matthew's Reviews > Revolutionary Brothers: Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship That Helped Forge Two Nations

Revolutionary Brothers by Tom Chaffin
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bookshelves: history, not-released-yet

Many thanks to NetGalley for an advance pdf of this book.

"Revolutionary Brothers" is a welcome look at some of the most important alliance-building relationships of the American and French Revolutions. The Marquis de Lafayette actively sought involvement in the American Revolution, bringing his eagerness and wealth to the successful support of George Washington and the Continental Army and becoming something of an able and storied leader of soldiers in his own right. It turned out that part of his motivation was revenge for the death of his own father, but didn't come to light until much later, and was hardly satisfied by even an ironic end to one of the British generals. Still, through all of that, the Marquis' adoption of General Washington as a father figure and his ingratiation with soldiers and politicians alike made him invaluable to the American cause and an able representative of the French monarchy in North America. Jefferson, however, shied from the Revolution on the battlefields and in the Congress, with the Marquis's military leadership saving his legacy more than once near the end of the war. Through the military campaigns in Virginia and North Carolina, they became acquainted, and Jefferson's appointment as a diplomat to France after the American war sealed their friendship. Along the way to his attempts to bring about reform in France from inside the system, with Jefferson's moral support, Lafayette tried to walk a fine line between loyalty to the monarchy and his desired role as reformer, considered revolutionary by that monarchy, that he set out to be from his political beginnings. With all of the factionalization, upheaval, and return to monarchy between the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon, the Marquis tried to stay right in the middle of it, even when Jefferson offered him the opportunity to retreat to the new Louisiana Purchase (from France). He did successfully withdraw from military activities and eventually settled into his political role as something of a statesman. After several years of travel in the expanding United States and his return to France just in time for the 1830 revolution, the Marquis renewed his opposition to the monarchy re-established there and was essentially exiled from government prominence in attempts to silence his revolutionary agitating, though he still spoke to gatherings and groups on his beliefs in liberal policies, many of which he developed through copious correspondence with Jefferson. By the time of the Marquis' death in 1834, he had outlived Jefferson by almost eight years. His early eagerness, his interest in the American cause, and his lifelong statesmanship brought him into friendship not only with Thomas Jefferson but also with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and many of the other statespersons of their generation. Restricting this "biography of a friendship" to just the Marquis and Jefferson is a bit unfair, as they both built quite a network of shared acquaintances, friendships, and alliances over their lifetimes. However, this was an insightful exploration of that particular friendship between the Marquis and Jefferson that drove so many events of their individual histories and their roles in their respective, and each others', countries.

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Reading Progress

November 11, 2019 – Started Reading
November 11, 2019 – Shelved
November 11, 2019 – Shelved as: history
November 11, 2019 – Shelved as: not-released-yet
November 11, 2019 –
page 27
November 13, 2019 –
page 48
November 14, 2019 –
page 79
November 16, 2019 –
page 105
November 23, 2019 –
page 157
November 24, 2019 –
page 190
November 26, 2019 – Finished Reading

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