The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered
By Laura Auricchio. ISBN: 978-0-307-38745-5. Copyright 2015. Softcover with 448 pages including 54 black and white illustrations, notes, bibliography, and index.
A major biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, who, at age nineteen, volunteered to fight under George Washington; a biography that looks past the storybook hero and selfless champion of righteous causes who cast aside family and fortune to advance the transcendent aims of liberty and justice commemorated in America’s towns, streets, parks, and schools named after the French nobleman. Laura Auricchio gives us a rich portrait of the man, fully revealed, a man driven by dreams of glory and felled by tragic, human weaknesses.
In The Marquis, we come to understand the personal struggles, social quandaries, and idealistic visions that inspired an orphaned young man to cross an ocean and fight a war that was none of his concern; we see a guileless provincial whose unexpected inheritance allowed him to marry into the highest echelons of the French aristocracy, and become a self-consciously awkward presence at the palace of Versailles. Here is the young Lafayette, removed from the French army as a result of sweeping reforms, trapped in a gilded cage until American emissaries reached Paris seeking support for their revolution. In the American cause, Lafayette, whose only vision had been of martial glory, saw a way to reach his dreams and seized it with gusto. Americans welcomed him with open arms, and he returned their affection fully. His American éclat was so brilliant and his enthusiasm so great that he quickly became the symbol of the Franco-American alliance that ultimately defeated Great Britain.