6 to 7:30 pm
Listen to an audio recording of this program.
Americans today have a love/hate relationship with France, but in this illuminating new history, Tom Shachtman shows that without France, there might not be a United States of America. How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution is about French aid to Americans during the American Revolution. To the rebelling colonies, French assistance made the difference between looming defeat and eventual triumph. Even before the Declaration of Independence was issued, King Louis XVI and French foreign minister Vergennes were aiding the rebels. After the Declaration, that assistance broadened to include wages for our troops; guns, cannon, and ammunition; engineering expertise that enabled victories and prevented defeats; diplomatic recognition when no other country would give it; safe havens for privateers; battlefield leadership by veteran officers; and the army and fleet that made possible the Franco-American victory at Yorktown.
Nearly ten percent of those who fought and died for the American cause were French. Those who fought and survived, in addition to the well-known Lafayette and Rochambeau, include François de Fleury, who won a Congressional Medal for valor, Louis Duportail, who founded the Army Corps of Engineers, and Admiral de Grasse, whose sea victory sealed the fate of Yorktown. In How the French Saved America, Tom Shachtman vividly captures the individual characters of our European brothers and the monumental role they played in America’s fight for independence and democracy.
After his talk, Mr. Shachtman will sign copies of his book. How the French Saved America will be available for purchase in the Newberry Bookstore. Your purchase helps to support the Newberry Library and this program’s featured author.
Tom Shachtman has written or co-authored more than thirty books, as well as documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and BBC, and has taught at New York University and lectured at Harvard, Stanford, Georgia Tech, and the Library of Congress. He is a former chairman of The Writers Room in Manhattan, a trustee of the Connecticut Humanities Council, a founding director of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, and is currently a consultant to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s science and technology initiatives.
Digital copies of the Newberry’s collection of more than 30,000 French Revolution-era pamphlets are available free on the Internet Archive.
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