How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution

Written by Tom Shachtman
Review by Susan Higginbotham

From a secret meeting in Philadelphia to the Treaty of Versailles, Shachtman explores the story of French involvement in the American Revolution, focusing on military and diplomatic efforts. He draws heavily on primary sources such as letters and diaries, and we are introduced to the stories of those men who will be familiar to most Americans, such as the Marquis de Lafayette, and of those who are comparatively more obscure, such as engineer Louis Duportail.

The scope of Shachtman’s story means that some events get regrettably short shrift, such as Lafayette’s first journey to America, which gets only a brief paragraph (albeit a tantalizing and lively one). But Shachtman’s prose is engaging, and his account of the events leading to the battle of Yorktown and of the battle itself is especially exciting. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the American Revolution or simply wishing to expand his or her knowledge of American history.