There has long been needed a popular biography of Joel Barlow, poet, biographer, chaplain in the Revolution, business man, diplomat and friend of the great. This, while well written, is immensely long and carefully documented, and a valuable addition to American historical libraries. But it isn't a biography for the man in the street. Barlow's career spans a farmboy to ambassador American success story. Born near hedding, Connecticut, in 1754, graduating from Yale just in time to serve as chaplain to a Massachusetts brigade, his true career began after his marriage when- in 1788- he went abroad as representative of the Ohio Company -- and stayed for seventeen years. In , during the first years of the French Revolution, his republican enthusiasm wavered as the tumbrils began to roll. In Algiers, as American emissary, he tried to obtain the release of American seamen held prisoners by the Bey in London he knew many important men and worked closely with Robert Fulton on plans for his submarine and steamboat. On his return to America, he settled in Georgetown and played the part of Elder Statesman to successive presidents. Madison named him Ambassador to France in 1810, where he dealt not too successfully with Napoleon. Caught in the rout of the Grand Army, when he had followed Napoleon to get a signature to a commercial treaty, Barlow contracted pneumonia and died. The book is far more than a biography of one man. The intellectual and political life of his time and the lives of his family and friends are woven into its fabric. A definitive, scholarly biography of a famous American.