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Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (Compact Disc)
I like Sarah Vowell. She’s the deadpan wiseacre cracking jokes in class who aces the test and carries a biography of Ben Franklin in her backpack. Her love of history shines in this hilarious and insightful look at our nation through the eyes of one of its first celebrities, the Marquis de Lafayette. On his grand 1820s tour of the 24 states, the former general found marching bands and a lot of merchandise with his face on it. He also found a country trying to stay together as its revered founders faded into memory and its cultural divides seemed deeper than ever. Few books explore the ideals that hold Americans together with the warmth and wit of this one.— Brendie
From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette--the one Frenchman we could all agree on--and an insightful portrait of a nation's idealism and its reality. 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 thirty 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 this 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. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.