LAFAYETTE: Man in the Middle by Sabra Holbrook

LAFAYETTE: Man in the Middle

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An admiring portrait, responsible compared to Beahrs' The Fire and the Glory or Gerson's adult Statue in Search of a Pedestal (both 1976), of the young French aristocrat who volunteered for the American Revolution at nineteen and returned home a libertarian. Holbrook ignores the view that military glory motivated his gesture; she cites a desire to avenge his military father (killed in battle with the British) and a faddish allegiance to the cause which deepened with his immersion in it. Her description of Lafayette's political activity back home is more detailed. While projecting the dedicated constitutional monarch--inspired by the American Constitution, caught between royalists and radicals, untempted by power and unafraid for his life--she carefully fills readers in on the factions and personalities of the Revolution and the Reign of Terror, gives a sort of overview from the sidelines of Napoleon's career, and chronicles the chaotic succession of kings, emperor, assemblies, committees--with, toward the end, a trusting Lafayette bestowing the crown on Louis Philippe. Short on analysis (either personal or political) but attentive to the issues, this is a full, old-fashioned hero biography, somewhat artificial in style.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1977
Publisher: Atheneum