James R. Gaines has been the editor of several magazines, including Time and People, and is also the author of Evening in the Palace of Reason. He lives with his family in Paris.
The famous relationship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette was forged in battle in the American Revolution. Gaines (former editor, Time magazine; Evening in the Palace of Reason) presents an engrossing book about their complex friendship. He effectively argues that theirs was not a father-son relationship of pure devotion and that the two did end up on opposites sides on occasions. For example, although Washington supported the principles of liberty within the French Revolution, he did not support the export of those liberties beyond French borders when France then waged war with Prussia and Austria-Hungary. However, Lafayette commanded one of those French armies. Gaines's book is much broader than David Clary's recent Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution because Gaines includes more about Lafayette's role during the French Revolution and his life after Washington's death in 1799. He uses a good balance of primary and secondary sources and includes recent works as well. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Bryan Craig, MLS, Nellysford, VA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
In this absorbing and learned study, Gaines (Evening in the Palace of Reason) chronicles the friendship of two great generals along with the American and French Revolutions, bringing great insight to both. He questions the standard theory that Lafayette and Washington had a father-son relationship and argues that the two men were the "founding fathers" of the centuries-long political alliance between France and America. This book is distinguished as much by the writing as the argument. Gaines's fresh narrative of the very familiar late-18th-century revolutions is exemplified by his exploration of the important role the playwright Beaumarchais played in French politics. With his typical flair for including perfect, cunning details, Gaines points out that Beaumarchais's nickname, "fils Caron," sounded remarkably like the name of his theatrical hero Figaro. Thus, when Figaro debuted in the radical play The Barber of Seville, the "self-consciously savvy audience knew exactly who they were watching on stage." Gaines also captures the drama of tense moments, such as Lafayette's public call for a convocation of the Estates-General. This winning volume will likely overshadow David Clary's Adopted Son. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.