Teenaged Freedom Fighter

Lafayette and the American Revolution by Russell Freedman tells the fascinating story of a young man who helped our nation gain its independence in the Revolutionary War. Orphaned at twelve, Gilbert de Motier, marquis de Lafayette was one of the wealthiest young aristocrats in France. Married at sixteen, he was already a father by the age of nineteen when he left France to aid the American revolutionaries in their struggle to win freedom from the British king.

Lafayette faced many obstacles on his path to the American Revolution: physical hardships, the disapproval of King Louis XVI and his court, and the young man's lack of experience in battle. He had to use his own personal fortune for all of his travel and supplies. He even bought his own ship to sail from Europe to America! He was wounded in battle and had to fight to prove himself worthy of a commission in the Continental army. Still, he was filled with a passion for the cause of liberty. With his great courage and clever military mind he earned the respect of General George Washington who loved him like a son. By the age of twenty, he was the youngest general in the Continental army. He became a folk hero to the people of France who sang songs about him in the streets of Paris. His successful efforts to secure men, ships, and money from the French court helped the Continental army win some of the most important battles of the revolution.

The author of this book, Russell Freedman, has won numerous awards for his excellent books. Some of my favorites are Out of Darkness: the Story of Louis Braille and Lincoln: a Photobiography . Lafayette and the American Revolution is a 2011 Sibert Honor Award book. Freedman's writing is clear and engaging. Excerpts from the papers of Lafayette and his contemporaries lend authenticity and give a voice to these people from the past. The book is beautifully illustrated with fine works of art, many in full color. Highly recommended for readers in grades 5-8.