Friday, September 14, 2007

"For Liberty And Glory"

James R. Gaines is a longtime journalist, magazine editor, publishing executive, media consultant, and author. His books include Wit's End: Days and Nights of the Algonquin Round Table and Evening in the Palace of Reason.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions, and reported the following:
I guess I'm lucky, because the page 69 test gets right to the heart of the Washington-Lafayette relationship. It deals with the first time they were introduced, just a few days after the 19-year-old French noble had set foot on American shores for the first time. He had just been given the sash of a major-general in the Continental Army by a representative of the revolutionary Congress. (Washington had little say in who his top officers were. Giving young Lafayette his wholly undeserved commission was a tactical PR move, recommended by Benjamin Franklin, aimed at drawing the French into our war against the British.) Washington had been complaining about the many French officers being foisted on him by the Congress, and his biographers have always found it remarkable that he and Lafayette became so close. The following begins at the top of page 69:

The fact that he [Washington] invited Lafayette so quickly into his small military "family" ... may suggest that he saw something of himself in this ambitious young general with no battlefield experience who harbored dreams of his own division. When he was Lafayette's age ... he too had gone after a position for which he was completely unqualified.... The military disaster that attended in his success in getting that [post] was reason enough for Washington to keep Lafayette close beside him in the first few months. The fact is, too, that Lafayette was enormously likeable, immediately appealing even to his fellow generals, who had every reason to resent the presence of one so young at their councils of war.....

There are many reasons Washington took to Lafayette, and vice versa. It is a lot more complicated than the simplistic father-son model of myth. In fact, they were a very odd couple, but for all their differences, they had the gift of greatness in common. It's well known that their revolutions changed the world -- Washington's in 1776, Lafayette's in 1789 and later -- but it's less well known how much they had transform themselves to lead those revolutions and how many of their victories were over their own characters.
Read an excerpt from For Liberty and Glory and learn more about the book and author from Gaines's website and the publisher's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue