Sunday, September 5, 2010
Joel Richard Paul, UNLIKELY ALLIES: HOW A MERCHANT, A PLAYWRIGHT, AND A SPY SAVED THE AMERICAN REVOLUITON
This historical narrative debunks the version of history that puts Benjamin Franklin at the center of obtaining French support for the American Revolution. At times the story becomes tedious and detail-oriented, and Paul could paint with a quicker brush. But at other times it reads like something out of a crazy historical farce--a cross-dressing, double-crossing woman spy; a playwright who couldn't keep his head down, his trap shut, and his identity secret when he saw his play being produced badly; and Silas Deane, a Connecticut merchant who marries two widows, ends up with about a dozen children who aren't his own, and cannot get anyone to answer his frantic letters from France. Truly, as I read this book and saw ALL the things that went wrong in trying to obtain French support ... the corruption, the bribes, the affairs, the lost letters ... I'm amazed that it happened at all.