Adopted Son

Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution

By David A. Clary
(Bantam, Hardcover, 9780553804355, 592pp.)

Publication Date: January 30, 2007

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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They were unlikely comrades-in-arms. One was a self-taught, middle-aged Virginia planter in charge of a ragtag army of revolutionaries, the other a rich, glory-seeking teenage French aristocrat. But the childless Washington and the orphaned Lafayette forged a bond between them as strong as any between father and son. It was an unbreakable trust that saw them through betrayals, shifting political alliances, and the trials of war.

Lafayette came to America a rebellious youth whose defiance of his king made him a celebrity in France. His money and connections attracted the favor of the Continental Congress, which advised Washington to keep the exuberant Marquis from getting himself killed. But when the boy-general was wounded in his first battle, he became a hero of two countries. As the war ground on, Washington found in his young charge the makings of a courageous and talented commander whose loyalty, generosity, and eagerness to please his Commander in Chief made him one of the war’s most effective and inspired generals. Lafayette’s hounding of Cornwallis’s army was the perfect demonstration of Washington’s unconventional “bush-fighting” tactics, and led to the British surrender at Yorktown.

Their friendship continued throughout their lives. Lafayette inspired widespread French support for a struggling young America and personally influenced Washington’s antislavery views. Washington’s enduring example as general and statesman guided Lafayette during France’s own revolution years later.

Using personal letters and other key historical documents, Adopted Son offers a rare glimpse of the American Revolution through the friendship between Washington and Lafayette. It offers dramatic accounts of battles and intimate portraits of such major figures as Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, and Benjamin Franklin. The result is a remarkable, little-known epic of friendship, revolution, and the birth of a nation.

About the Author

David A. Clary, former chief historian of the U.S. Forest Service, is the author of numerous books and other publications on military and scientific history. He has been a consultant to several government agencies and has taught history at the university level. He lives in New Mexico with his wife, Beatriz.

Praise For Adopted Son

“Few stories in American history are more intriguing, or touching, than that of the bond that developed between General Washington and the Marquis d’Lafayette. With verve and charm, David Clary shows how the childless Washington, who felt betrayed by many of the men who surrounded him, and Lafayette, who never knew his father and lusted for glory and the chance to help the American cause, drew close in a loving and trusting relationship. With his engaging style, Clary succeeds in bringing to life Lafayette and Washington, and also in acquainting readers with America’s great and, at times seemingly forlorn, struggle for independence.”
—John Ferling, author of A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic

“As Clary shows from the extensive correspondence that Washington and Lafayette conducted, their relationship deepened into an unabashedly paternal-filial one.... Portraying youth learning from experience, Clary’s history will deservedly tap the readership of the War of Independence.” ––Booklist

"A beautifully crafted, insightful study of the deeply intertwined lives of Washington and Lafayette, two key figures in the transforming age of revolution." —Susan Dunn, author of Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light 

“A finely researched work on the sometimes awkward, often endearing, and ultimately historic relation between two great leaders.” —James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom, and George Washington

"David Clary's Adopted Son is a fascinating account of the relationship between Washington who lacked a son and young Lafayette, who lacked a father. It was a warm, affectionate connection that was greatly satisfying to both men, one that significantly strengthened France's commitment to America during our War of Independence. This fine study deserves a wide readership." —Don Higginbotham

“A riveting history of a tumultuous time in America and France...I loved this book.”—Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, author of American Heroines: The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country

"This is a remarkable book about two of the most remarkable men of the revolutionary era—indeed, of any era.  At long last we have the full story of how the Father of Our Country and his French `adopted son,' the Marquis de Lafayette, joined hands across the Atlantic and on the battlefield, and together launched a new nation and a new age of democracy around the world."—Arthur Herman, author of How the Scots Invented the Modern World

“Personal friends and political allies, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette had one of the most important friendships of the 18th century. In this enjoyable study, Clary.... [has] woven together grand military history with an intimate portrait of deep affection."—Publishers Weekly

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