tv Mike Duncan Hero of Two Worlds - The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of... CSPAN November 13, 2021 3:04am-4:13am EST
from 48 bookstores until after 94 years the strand as a sole survivor now run by third-generation owner nancy. when went to thank all of you for your support. loyalty many of authors who would not be here today pervert appreciative of all of you. not worth thrilled to have mike duncan dogged his book the hear of two worlds. mike duncan is one of the most popular history pod casters in the world. and out of the "new york times" best-selling book before the storm. his award-winning series the history of rome's legendary and podcasting. ongoing serious revolutions explores the great political revolution striven the course of modern history. joining mike in conversation tonight is alexis cobra alexis
koser presidential historian "new york times"
best-selling author of you've never forget your first a biography of george washington now in paperback. and forever eight murder in memphis soon to be a major motion picture. alexis was a consulting producer on and appeared in washington series on the history channel. she regularly appears on msnbc and cnn. she's contributed to the new yorker, the "new york times" and many others. and so without further ado please join me in welcoming mike and alexis to the stage. hooks well high. >> hello. kirk's first of all congratulations for this new book. i know all of you have picked up because you are here tonight. but if i can encourage you to overspend i would recommend
buying a second copy or getting
it from your library because one of the most rewarding things i heard haven't also written a book on someone who is part of the american revolution is the book on the topic can enable you to talk to family members, friends and other people you have not been able to connect with on american history. i find it totally enriching. i joined a family group recently and i'm pushing it on everyone. i want to say to my congratulations on a book but also congratulations on finding where the very few rich unproblematic white men. it is nearly impossible. so let's start out with a well done, good choice. >> god bless you for having it mostly writes it. >> that's the thing he didn't
die for having it mostly right. he is not a martyr. he also is not disappeared into oblivion because he held the belief. i do not know what that is like. i have written about a murderer and i have written about washington is not an uncomplicated figure when you say hero. so what is that like to study someone it's almost like you have to pull back a little bit. >> yes. in the course of doing both the history of rome and revolutions i have met many, many different kinds of people. like julius caesar, augustus, these guys are great men and a g-uppercase-letter m-uppercase-letter trademark mode. but also did horrific things and were able to be personally cruel to even close family
members in addition to committing acts of genocide as they were running around being g-uppercase-letter n-uppercase-letter different about napoleon, and so one of the things that drew me too lafayette and why i wanted to write about him more as he seemed more like a good man than a great man. other people asked me this before is he a great man did you write a great man biography? he never quite got to that supreme level that even washington got two or napoleon got to or his contemporaries' got to because he did not have that really ruthless streak in him to be sociopathic or blind to the damage she was causing by his actions that he could go out and do the things that are required to make your mark in history. so he made his mark in history
and is heavily involved in so many really, really important advance. he is a transformative figure but along the way he's mostly a good person who tried to make the world he lives in a better place. that's one of my thoughts about him going into it was more or less confirmed as i went to the details. there is stuff in there like manny should have done that. he comes out very, very well from a detailed accounting of his life. >> that's an important distinction. often because of the offensiveness not something i ever felt when i was reading his book. when you experience something disappointing you are up apologizing what was your
relationship like with him over the years you spent so much time? he is my friend. [laughter] i heard once, like before i sat down to write a biography somebody said if you write a biography you end up hating her loving your subject those are the two things that happen. i don't know exactly how true that is. if it is one or the other i definitely skew on the side i basically like spending time with this guy. i read so much of his correspondence semi- things said about him he himself had a self-deprecating sense of humor. never took himself too seriously. was willing to have a little
humidity him having that personality and him having that character made it very easy to describe the good things about him. i think honestly if he read the book that i wrote, the things i said i'm not sure he should've done this or this right here this is a sad ending to this story this a good thing you tried to do. i think he would've said yes i know. i feel that myself. because nobody is completely perfect. i have not lived my life perfect free. some in europe my biography did say mike, really? i think that's what it is. i spent so much time with him for three or three and half years i still enjoy reading about him talking about him, i
love talk about this book. the something that makes him an appealing person. i think it has continued on through the years. >> i think one of they do stay with you i imagine bill accenting a child off to college. he saw them living their lives they look happy needing new people but you don't stop thinking about them. and that's it's really interesting. i don't think you consciously followed or tried to betray these rules of the biography you just naturally told the story so allowed yourself to treat them and engage as an
actual person no one wants to share their letters and diaries from when they are teens but. >> lafayette as a teenager is great it's one of my favorite moments in his life. i would love to write a sitcom about lafayette as a teenager. go ahead. >> were going to get back to that, hold that thought. i was thinking you often will use these in metaphors and analogies that you don't find in traditional biographies and people know this. there were moments when i called the revolution washington's pregnancy so we had to take the baby to term and make sure the baby lives to survive on its own that's why he had to serve as president. you kind of gave and that too it did that come natural to you or did you say it's already been described this
way could it really to me too make more sense in this other way. >> i sat down to write it, i didn't want to not just make it a sort of -- my card put this at the time, i did not want to write a social studies report about lafayette. and that's what i was actively avoiding trying to do. was just deliver social studies report about lafayette that did the work gave the facts analyzes place in history and then leave it at that. i've gotten a lot out of biography sediment written in that style. but in what i was trying to do, i did want to give more about literary quality and aim for metaphors and ways of describing things or turn phrases you would expect to find like a novel or in something like that.
a lot of places i went to for inspiration there is a lot of things i was trying to grab. there were these gentlemen biographies, i read one was one of the spanish-american revolutionaries. it was by a guy who was a sometime adventurer big game hunter/member of parliament/navigator who also wrote books on the side. the way some of their language was used in the books, i kind of liked it i'm not going to appropriate your attitude is necessarily your language and the way you're using language is a lively and interesting. i tried to bring that into the book and i think succeeded for the most part of what i was attempting to do. don't think it's a social studies report about lafayette. >> definitely not.
when that be fun of those requirement of our social studies. obviously we need here little bit about lafayette as a team and might i suggest a revolutionary. >> is called the guillotines, of course it is. don't where it exists. >> beautiful beautiful. john quincy adams having all of his adventures in europe give us a good tenet story. >> okay so his back story he is this noble he is a rich orphan grew up in the equivalent of the sticks. he was a lord he lives in the manor house the big house of the small village. but is from a small village and today even a particular populated part of france, who moves to paris and winds up
marrying into one of the richest and most powerful families in france. they are second only to the bourbon dynasty the royalty in place of wealth and lafayette enters this world. he just doesn't quite fit in. his manners are bit more bumbling. he barely clearly went through a growth spurt were he was physically awkward as he is going puberty and transitioning into being someone who could carry around he was kind of a bigger guy. and so he comes into this world and he has to hang with basically the rich kids. this is kind of a tale we are all very familiar with. someone who's come into a rich high school and is now suddenly trying to hang out with the jocks and the captains of the football team and hang out with the head cheerleader who is marie
antoinette. he's really not quite able to do it. when he gets drunk he gets falling down drunk when he becomes the butt of people's jokes. there's definitely a moment and then reported from a couple sources redoes a dance with marie antoinette from a subset or feed couple times and she's laughing at him. becomes this awkward laughingstock in the set of people. super rich, superpowerful teenagers they are kind the same wherever you find them. the meanness that goes along with that gossip and trying to take him down all of that existed around him. it's part of what moves him out of that scene. it's very strange it's in some
he as a person already feels comfortable in the littering and literally the most comfortable place on earth. he did not like it there. >> you bring up washington and lafayette were good friends almost family. he lives with washington for a while, sometimes though they are so different, right? you talk about lafayette losing help self and public washington would never. there is lots thoughts on slavery which i will get to are very different. they have a lot in common they both had to marry rich, fell in love and their partner, found good partners, and often
felt most at home in these incredibly different situations. >> that is something i do think is true of both of them. because by the time they get together washington does marry into money. washington wrote up very used to being in a rustic setting. he was comfortable tromping through woods and enduring the hardships of nature, all the hard stuff he was up to as a young militia officer before, during and after the french and indian war, which we in europe called the seven years war. on lafayette had that too, had that ability because he grew up tramping around in woods in the hills and forests. both of them had a physical endurance and a willingness and desire to put themselves
in difficult circumstances and endure them. even though washington winds up as one of the richest people in the colonies, he's living in this plantation. if you wanted to washington could have spent his life enormously pampered for the same is true for lafayette. he could've spent his life enormously pampered. neither one of them wanted that they wanted to go on campaign. they preferred to be its 20 below but i'm going to stand here in my coat and endure this. even though washington did it with incredible stoicism, or at least his projected and lafayette was never able to quite project that same level. he still enjoyed being able to prove he could do all the stuff. he may be could not keep up a guzzling wine with french aristocrats but he actually could keep up with a frozen winter in valley forge had not
really ever complain about it. that's the true thing about him. he was much more comfortable enduring hardship that he wasn't kicking around a life of pleasure. which i think is mostly true of washington two, at least the things they kept aiming for always put them in a world of hardship. >> absolutely absolutely. washington was more, lafayette had a bit more of perks that washington felt were denied to him a little bit more invested or better, invested in his home when your wealth is invested in people but before we go there again, another thing they have in common is known is going to totally debate that.
so not considered great statesmen, they're not considered great thinkers, their contribution was to be born during the right time for their part to make killer inclination. i push back against that and my out biography of washington because i feel like he completely rolled by the public court of opinion. it's so important to him during the revolution. he's actively thinking of setting up america as a country to enter the scene and look stable. he is inventive, he is a quick thinker i would argue he's a little bit better than that then he would've been on the battlefield. do you think that's an unfair wrap lafayette has as well? >> in the sense that lafayette
and washington to were surrounded by some pretty genius level people, like is a washington and intellect compared to alexander hamilton or thomas jefferson, no. that does not make george washington a tree stump when it comes to his intellectual capacity. i think the same is true for lafayette. we talk about the people running around late 18th century france, this is the enlightenment the system world historical geniuses that are operating at a very high intellectual level. i think it's true lafayette is not hanging up there for example are both kind of so maybe not maryville. i don't think that means that he was a dunce or constantly
made mistakes. he was just in over his head. i push back against the notion that lafayette was in over his head which is something a lot of people say about him, was he in the situation for anybody it would've been in over their head? >> yes that's mostly what it is. he was trying to accomplish something of a move move over to the french revolution tries to maintain order and revolutionary paris there are very few people who actually could have done that job and not wound up being ejected from the revolution like lafayette was. lafayette was a very bright guy, very nimble guy. he was very aware of public symbols, public perception of him, how to present stuff. lafayette is underrated the tricolor, the flag, the
uniform and the national guard, all of these things then become the permanent symbols of the revolution. lafayette gives this to everybody so clearly he knows something is going on. the thing i will finish by saying this is he doesn't write any great treaties. he doesn't write any great books. but he mostly succeeded at what he was trying to accomplish. that is not something can be said for most people he was around. >> hit provides many years of a friendship person. i know, i love a. drama. i will watch, it doesn't matter i will find something to engage with and someone to take joy in. but is it a little bit hard
that with the popularity of lafayette also come the confection of him is kind of like lofty frenchmen and he was a young man with that young wife. so break that down for us, what would you tell us to be wary of while enjoying it? >> the thing about hamilton, would it kate time for me too pitch the biography of lafayette the effect hamilton existed made it very easy. the fact that show existed was such a cultural phenomenon and brings his people out the forefront. no said write a book about lafayette instead of his that i've never heard him a chunk of the time they said lafayette from hamilton i love that guy he was great.
that made my life are easy as a biographer it still does. >> over-the-top exaggeration of what a french teenager was acting like. a lot did not make it into the book i wasn't just dwelling on his exploits in the united states, lafayette did very well for himself the united states. here's a virile 19-year-old, 20h , 21-year-old very far away from his wife. he was not particularly faithful to audrey and during the american war of independence. there are lots of little anecdotes about him. he is at some boardinghouse and he comes down the stairs on somebody's like how did you sleep and he said her bed was a bit short. stuff like that. when he gets caught out on
barron hill, he almost gets captured in one of the first campaigns. he is in bed with a local probably prostitute is what he's doing at that point. lafayette did quite well. he enjoyed his time in the united states as a dashing french officer and he made the most of it. hers was going on in hamilton completely made up? was he some very reserved, i'm super faithful to my wife, no he was a french teenagers who looked awfully sharp uniform and knew it. >> he was probably not wearing purple velvet but not far from it. quick is often described as a closed horse. he likes and buying in terms of when he got into frivolous spending the big thing you'd frivolously spend on was his close. he did not look like the
joker, but he looked good. >> we should emphasize they loved being in their tents in the wilds of the ohio they very much love to look good and velvet. washington left a black velvet suit. they were always running up bills. you mentioned something i think is important that both of them are into designing military uniforms. their inclinations were not to their direct leisure. the biggest difference of course they had their own stories with her rich wives at i don't think washington was ever unfaithful. some suggest is unlikely. lafayette is what so many
presidential biographers and presidential homes with their subjects to be. he talks about things and get them. he actually evolved over time for the more he learned the more he interact with the world. he wasn't perfect he wasn't an angel as we have heard. but in all kinds of ways lafayette tends to match his actions. talk to me about his evolution. >> this is probably in my thinking about him before i went into the book and then as i was researching the book. they think that is set about lafayette especially in his later years as people's or drink of his life is he was consistent. he started believing one thing at the beginning of his life and he stuck with it is his
entire life. it is true he identified with this word and concept of liberty. he always associated himself with that. that is consistent. his i was reading him i watched them change several times. i watched him adapt several times. who is often because he had this northstar the concept of liberty and equality. but he did not start his life as an abolitionist. that's something that grew on him. he did not start his life believing and democracy. for most of his life he is not an out and out democrat. by the end of his life in 1832 in 1833 he's giving speeches about just because i'm rich does not mean i should be allowed to vote. every step of his career he's always looking at whatever the status quo is. any given year he's look at the status quo and trying to
figure out what can be made better. what can we reform what can we improve on? he's never going to sink i contrast this to get to the end of the book you get to françois who for us in obscure french politician but was quite a figure in french history who had a rigid idea of what things needed to be and he did not go further than that. lafayette was ready to change and grow. that was something consistent about him his whole life. the knock on him that he had this one idea when he was 19 years old and stuck with it for the next 60 years is not something i actually encountered in the human being i ended up studying. >> it's funny they say they're destined to do a thing that so un- and denies in this interesting work. complexity is not a liability it makes for a great read and
a lot of lessons. >> when lafayette was developing as an early abolitionist in the early 1780s there's a great moment he's writing to john adams was then the ambassador to great britain saying its work abolitionist literature was please send me a crate of books i do not know anything about this. i kind of think slavery is book is bad. please semi- every book that's been written on the emancipation of the slaves i want to read them all have the suspicion in the back of my head maybe slavery is not something that's actually compatible with liberty but i need to learn more about it and so he does. this is something he does for the rest of his life. >> at the same time he remains close with washington for the rest of washington's life pretty goes to mount vernon. the only time i found accounts of washington getting drunk and going around mount vernon late at night is with lafayette.
>> yes. [laughter] >> he's the fun friend he is the good friendship. lafayette spent a lot of time talking to washington about slavery. washington is out mount vernon he owns hundreds of people almost his entire life. lafayette would write him and say my dear friend, think about what it would look like for america if you set this example? maybe we'll go have sees on some property and basically do tenant farming. washington writes back you are so sweet, i love you you're such a good person, let's talk about this when you visit next in the five or ten years. [laughter] literally nothing happened. how did lafayette reconcile this great love and adoration he had for washington with
what john brown but peleg disappointment. >> it was not a dealbreaker but how much did he struggle? >> his relationship with those , not just washington somebody's going to try to emulate who should have been emulating he signed to the right thing in washington is sinking back and not following through on his moral duty as a human being. this is true he's very close friends with jefferson. he's going to be close friends
with madison with james monroe. it's one of those things where you have gone through a lot with people. you do form these very, very close connections. your thinking goes off in a different direction from theirs. he spent this whole life hoping his friendship with people and connections to them would ultimately convince them to save the their ways. i don't believe slavery is right i can no longer be associated with the a could no longer be your friend. he never did that. i think some people could reasonably criticize him for that. you gave your pitch slavery is an evil in the world. the thing lafayette was getting from them though and this is true of all of them you're obviously a great person for suggesting it and
it slavery. we all know slavery is bad roping at 10:15 or 20 years it would naturally go away? be way too disruptive. down the road were all aiming in the same direction. lafayette can beat night about the united states and naïve about with the directions are headed. the southeast principle is moving in the right direction. even though they were not moving as fast as he would have liked. ultimately i'm going to keep pushing him i'm not going to rock the boat too much i don't the country to fall apart. they will get there eventually. the thing is none of their lifetimes they get there eventually.
but the time is on his deathbed, they never did did they? they kept saying they would your great guy for suggesting that the cap hearing you out they did not boot him. they cap bringing him up as a dude shut up this is how i make a living i don't think it's that big of a deal and i'm tired of you carping about it. they just maintain those relationships. i think it's a fair criticism of someone wants to make it. i just think it comes from a place of a slight low-grade naïveté about though and entrenched economic interests and the social, political and economic reality of the united states at the time. >> i'm afraid i have to share mine with the audience but i have another question. you had to move to france but. [laughter] i did big rex you had to to do your research, which means that you knew a community the
protection of lafayette george washington it's like he left you. can you talk about that duality? >> i think one of the other things, is the two different ways he is treated of the american revolution and the french revolution. wrote a series for the podcast about the american revolution. lafayette shows up as a dashing teenagers bumped around washington is a great friend of liberty in the country. he helps bring france into the
war. it is all good stuff about him. i knew lafayette was fun to show for the next series i did which is the third season about the french revolution. so as i was leaving the american revolution and started reading these books about french history. whenever lafayette shows up it's like you're comes as dumb who could not do anything right. he will be gone soon we don't really have to worry about him. lafayette who was famously constantly asleep at the switch. i'm like are we talking about the same guy here? it's only a couple years later i don't think he dramatically changed as a person. and to be perfectly frank i don't think he did. that sort of portrayal of him made him interesting to me as a person. what i tried to do in the book is create one single continuous personality that progress and did not change dramatically he didn't suddenly incompetent he was never incompetent. i think it's very true that
french historical memory does not rate lafayette as american historiography does. i think the french have a tendency to underrate him. it's not they are french than another on history but that got it right. most often something i would feel is more the case the french have their own running battles about the french revolution that are ongoing to this very day. the french revolution continues to be a live thing in french politics. what you think there are people who supported their people who opposed him. he's very much alive figure there are people who defendant. lafayette's position in the french revolution is simultaneously trying to impose a constitutional monarchy on france in
opposition to conservatives, monarchist traditional catholics who don't like any of this. they end up hating lafayette because they impose these things on him. he's also running against the populace he's against anton, these heroes of the people who become the heroes of left-wing historiography he is homeless. he becomes homeless after his death. when he died it's the french hated lafayette they did not care about him. he was an enormously popular author his life. when he died at literally hundreds of thousands of people turned out for his funeral. philippe and his ministers were afraid his funeral procession through paris in 1834 was going to spark a revolt and revolution. it wasn't that he lost his popularity or was not an influential figure during his life he was not treated as a
serious person is just that over the years he did not have an active party, an active faction in the ongoing friendship discourse so as fallen by the wayside. >> needs and annette gordon reed. [laughter] >> except i am just some american. remember this happen to me a couple of times where i would go to a library i'm here, i'm an american i'm doing this on bed french by the way, and i'm writing a book about the french revolution the revolution of 1830 in the cycle with the topic i would say the marquis' of course you're an american you are the only people who ask for material about lafayette. >> i think it's probably refreshing to get zero credit of ushering us towards yorktown. >> which they did do i hope i
establish that in the book we were not winning that war without the french guys for quick we keep saying that. but no one is listening to us okay so i will turn this over, this is from joel. consider how fast everything move during the french revolution. does lafayette feel he failed france or that it was out of his control? would it be possible to emulate washington and france? rex okay, there are a couple questions in their. one of them is that it got to say by 1791 when gone through this series of debacles he's trying to be the commander of the national guard. he ends up resigning from the national guard in late 1791. by this point you really get the sense lafayette feels it's
not that he failed but the people failed him. that he was doing the right thing and nay just kind of would not get on board with it. he felt like he was being treated very unfairly because he was being attacked by both the right and the left. he was playing a whack a mole with everything that was erupting through this time. i do get the sense, he has reflections on the course of the french revolution he writes later in his life. you do kind of get the sense he does not feel like he made mistakes. he feels like the situation was out of his control and there were these rabble-rousers on both sides. whether it's anton or ultra royalist who were constantly screwing things up and making his life a living hell. he does not go too far down the track.
but i think that's a generally his attitude towards it. the other question is, could washington have succeeded in the french revolution the way he succeeded in the american revolution? that kind of feels like no, i don't think he is able to pull that off. there is a great quote that i jammed in there for sure which is in bonaparte looking back on the french revolution saying if i had been in the united states when george washington was there i would have been george washington to because he did not have to do with foreign invading armies, civil wars and social unrest. would you ever read a single book about the war of independence that's all it was was a civil war and people invading, people trying to undermine him. so, washington succeeded in the situation he had. i don't see him make it out of the french revolution in one piece. no, no totally.
he also did not really go anywhere he went to barbados once per. >> he also does not speak french. that definitely would have held him back in the french revolution. [laughter] >> he did not indulge it really wasn't significant many important ways to french people but not to stereotype. hypothetical when it's like what would washington think if he walked on the street today? oh my gosh this is a street. >> it is so noisy. >> it's hypothetical when it's actually about the time. and something could have happened. i think this is interesting. we brought this upon ourselves to talk about washington, slavery and conversations with him. to have a sense of what role
general is unifying figure. we know that politics at the time was very cutthroat between federalists or whatever you want to call them the democratic republicans and lafayette existed above all of that. he was loved by hamilton and jefferson who are arch enemies of each other. when lafayette goes on this tour the election of 1824 was one of the most insane presidential elections in the history and ends with nobody having secured a majority of the electoral college and he wins in the middle of it to all for presidential candidates who were loved to stick a knife in each other's ribs are coming to dinner to share the table with this one guy marquis lafayette so when you say what if he had stated become senator and tried to run for president i think he
loses that reputation and no longer has the moral authority personality authority that you are able to -- he was able to engender as this person coming in from afar who is unifying everything and they think he just winds up with the struggle he got caught up within france and tried to stay aloof from it and want outpacing everybody off and want up in retirement someplace in ohio. he would not have been that successful nor as beloved as he is today. >> washington didn't want to be president and he was in philadelphia and so i couldn't possibly be the general anymore.
but he was marching and he was universally loved. so absolutely and the thing that people forget about lafayette is he wasn't driven by power. when they wielded it and walk when they didn't there were like i'm good. >> that's what makes lafayette if good man rather than a great man is he was not driven by a for power. he wanted to be renowned and he wanted to be famous. he really has great ambitions like he loved listening to a good speech talking about how great he was. he loved all that stuff but he did not have the kind of power-hungry drive that many of the people around him did. this is a guy who was alongside
napoleon bonaparte and the contrast between them is quite clear. i happened to completely agree with that interpretation of washington. the gap silly wanted to be commander-in-chief of the continental army and that was his great dream and when it came time for duty present he was like he was dragged from mt. vernon buddy was dragged from mt. vernon. he didn't want to do it so i think because of that, that's where lafayette is spontaneously a more appealing person to think about and talk about but also would have been one of his persistent defects about him. he didn't quite, there were other political mistakes he made but one of them is just that he always was kind of like if somebody offers him the presidency he's like i don't want to be president. i don't actually want that job and he was not president in the way that his old mentor was.
>> i would be remiss if i didn't ask you a question. he wants to know if you have alluded to project the one and only mike duncan. >> i'm not telling anybody. because the thing is i'm wrapping up the revolution so i've got a lot of incredibly nervous fans out there who don't know what i'm going to do next. and i will continue to podcast revolutions aside but i've got a very nice thing going here that i really love to do and it does have other interests that i want to explore. there's a leader in the clubhouse in terms of what i'm going to do next and i'm not
going to say what it is quite yet because if i change my mind they don't want people to come back and say that you said that one time when you are going to do this i'm keeping it under wraps. as for the next book i'm less cagey about what the next book will be. i want to go back to history and a particular period that i got out of the history of rome that's about the crisis of the third century that centers around orwellian that's been on my mind for 10 years and that's a book i'm going to write. hopefully everybody. ordered the book and i will be like eee there's this other book about the crisis of the third century which i will go to next. we did our run through europe and the 500 square-foot tiny
european apartment and now we are good. i will go down to the library and read all about it. >> i will ask one more thing and then we'll go back to lafayette. people want to know -- >> i get one -- that one a lot to answer that question is when the show actually ends whenever it ends in anybody's listening in real-time nose i'm marching to the russian revolution. more or less every week i'm covering about a week so lord knows when the revolution is going to end that there'll probably be a big low up fund-raiser to end the show and the t-shirts are the two most consistently beloved shirts and i'll probably bring both of them back. >> they are will be very excited. speaking to your earlier point i
feel like more people talk about it. and also one person wants to know originally the title was lafayette. >> never see the title of your book. >> so you felt like it's a better description of it? >> they are a couple of things and i think the two things happened simultaneously. and to get this off my play them market department came back and said we prefer something a little punchier to win the sales and marketing department came back and said look at spying but can we think of something a little bit more punchy the jumps off the shelf, when they asked me that i was not at all opposed to it because i knew the book
before i had done the research on it. and when i went back even as i was writing the book there's no time in lafayette's life which they call them lafayette. when they get rid of the aristocratic title the aristocratic title was the marquis lafayette and his family name was duarte. he would have been citizen citizen more ta not citizen lafayette. one of them gets dropped and the other thing is that the other people who are pushing for that kind of stuff were his political enemies. that's the french revolution with the red liberty caps and 1792, 1793 in 1794. lafayette is rejected by the revolution because the people
who were doing that in the french revolution were his enemies so i was by this point feeling like i don't know the title fits with the book i'm writing and from the faxes i'm encountering them and marquis came along and said citizen marquette is a little dry. and i said okay we can change the title. >> these titles and books attend to all of us alike. >> we wanted to give it a more modern look in the same way that i wasn't trying to write a social studies report on lafayette and we were not trying to do books like every other founding father biographer that you are going to see on the shelf out there. >> we are running out of time. there a lot of questions about
saying this book was different than the last and also when you were in france and going to all these places you talked about and you've written about what was that like? >> the first one this happened with the history of rome going to revolutions and it happened and writing the hero two worlds when you do your history you are dealing with a very small pile of fragments. you have to take these fragments and tease out of them information have to do so much reading between the lines taking a snippet here in some inscription over here and trying to build a mosaic out of incredibly tiny amounts of fragmented sources. that's the great challenge for people who study ancient history, that's the challenge that they face.
when you move to the modern world and something like a french revolution it's exactly the opposite. there are millions of pages of primary source documents about everything that happened at the time and they are such an enormous pile of things to get. how can i figure out what i need to read it how i need to read it and what are the things i need to bring out of this so it was to very different problems. which you know i think both of them are good and bad in their own ways. the nice thing about history is you sit down and go for you can probably read literally everything you know about roman history which you cannot do -- even washington. how many phmsa washington papers are there, they are 50 volumes. you can go through all of that. so the other question what was it like to be in france?
i'm in paris and i work not too far from it and i was able to go and take my laptop and write chapters in the places that i was writing about and the atmosphere and the feel of it i'm a great believer in the power of inhabiting spaces where the history happened. when you do these tours went hopefully covid may go away at some point to take people out to the battlefield in italy which is just a field but just to be in that place is a special thing and if i wrote the book and the united states i think it would have been very good. i think the fact that i wrote it in paris in the places that these things were happening the pros gave me like a sensuality to what i'm describing that doesn't exist if i'm not there
so i still love paris. it's a lovely city. >> a lovely city, i'm good. i want to go back and archivist at the massachusetts historical society and an expert on john and abigail adams. >> mortician pugsley the whole group. >> she's all over it. she had a good question which is that we know about the relationships between washington and lafayette and we know she asks who should we look at and what of the relationships if you haven't read the book what things should they be looking out for to get away from?
>> i think the first thing is to almost impossible to overemphasize how much influence washington and lafayette. it was the most thing that lafayette had in the front of his mind but there were others. there is a abbe renault who was a philosopher in he was very young and when you're trying to pick through this there's an obvious question that's difficult to answer. windows lafayette latch onto on to the notion of liberty and equality as being the thing that somebody out to strive for and fight ford when he he start thinking that wasn't a thing and that's something that reynolds wrote this huge thing called the history of the two indies which is ostensibly about a very boring history of french
colonial the french colonies in the americas in which he smuggled them all of this incredibly seditious material incredibly radical thinking about the way the europeans were behaving out in the world and lafayette i think a lot of that got into his head went to the united states with these ideas are ready in his mind and he finds them they bloom when he arrives united states but you don't go with some mere mercenary who's just trying to win battlefield glory for himself like the french officers who went over there were. i think he gets stuff out of masonic meetings that he was going to. he witnessed huge mason. george washington was obviously a pretty big mason. he inducted lafayette and it is masonic lodge and that's part of what allow them to become very close.
but i think it's nice to look -- another good person is condor say the marquis day condorcet who is one of these early enlightenment philosophers who was before lafayette really truly latched on to his abolitionism was writing about african that he winds up reading. those are a couple and reynaud and condor say it's not like he just went to the united states and learned all these things. >> i want to ask two questions and i think it's unfair not to follow up. he said you mentioned adam says in john adams and he tweeted out
with jessica's question. are there any lessons or takeaways that you took from lafayette? >> just a very small thing because we don't have much time. the thing about, okay there is a tendency that people often have two subconsciously believe that things like progress and reform change for the better are just things that happen. look back on history. history is really progress. you don't worry about things will get better because progress will take care of it capital p progress but aren't things better for this group in that group? yes and you want to know why,
because people fought for it and people went out and did something about it and the very people who you think are like radicals today and he would say to them why are you making such a big deal about it? we will do? we will do? we will do anchorman to reform and even incremental reform doesn't happen without lots of people making it happen. lafayette was somebody who from the very beginning of his life and to the end of his life was constantly using his money. he is a very rich guy and he was constantly spending on money on what he caught deemed to be just and noble causes and this time and injured -- energy patronized writers and printing presses. he's trying to spread his ideas and if he got to the point where he believe that things were not progressing fast enough or well enough he was willing to go into a revolution to achieve his aims
so i think that lesson is to constantly look at it like he always did as i said and think about the things that can be made better because there are was things that can be improved upon and then work to approve -- improve them. don't just assume they are going to happen by some mystical force of history or mystical force of process. >> alafia didn't believe that exist in to give back did something to talk about early -- early did washington write some grain -- groundbreaking philosophical treaty that became influential and change everybody? no, these guys believe that there actions were the things that were going to change the world and both of them focused on their actions that would change the word not mentality and fishing some witty barb in a salon setting but to go out and do things.
we have got a lot of problems right now with humanity in the 21st century is a very troubling and trying time. were going to make it through this and we are going to secede but we will have to do it. we can't just the back and expected to happen for us. >> c i could keep going for another hour. >> what the guy's not coming back. oh there he is. >> i want to thank you for this. it was wonderful and congratulations on the book. >> thank you very much.n histore
in history. >> welcome to all of you in person and those of you joining us online. i'm senior public programs producer the museum of jewish heritage and memorial to the holocaust is really a pleasure to welcome you to today's book launch for into the forest, holocaust story of survival triumph in love by rebecca frankel. we first met rebecca here in january of 2020 when she came to the museum to attend a
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