Book review: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Calling Sarah Vowell a historian doesn’t seem right. She certainly deserves the title, considering her ability to write beautifully about history and, as the lengthly bibliography at the end of Lafayette In The Somewhat United States proves, research the hell out of her subject. Maybe it’s just hard to picture David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin, say, waxing poetic about a visit to Bruce Springsteen’s house or providing a heartbreakingly funny mid-book interlude about the Quaker community’s complicated history with the Revolutionary War. Sarah Vowell’s books always, to their great benefit, have heavy doses of Sarah Vowell, a talented and opinionated writer in love with America’s weird, messy backstory.

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