Americans today have a love/hate relationship with France, but in his new book, Tom Shachtman shows that without France, there might not be a United States of America.
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.
“At last a full and compelling accounting of the crucial role that France and the French played in the American Revolutionary War! Tom Shachtman skillfully shatters the myth that Americans secured their independence from Great Britain alone and by themselves. Through meticulous research, he tells the fascinating story of how the American revolutionaries slowly and at times fitfully negotiated their country’s first international alliance, ultimately leading to military victory and the creation of the United States. This book deserves a place on the bookshelf of every American history buff.”
— Jeswald W. Salacuse, Distinguished Professor and former Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University