Monday, March 14, 2016

Audiobook Review -- When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation


I recently finished the audiobook version of When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation by Francois Furstenberg. As the title implies, the book follows the intertwined stories of five French aristocrats who fled Revolutionary France as the revolution devolved into terror, and it gives the reader an interesting view of early United States history from the perspective of these Frenchmen, who found Americans very welcoming at first and less so as the United States began to move out of France's orbit and back into England's.

Also interesting is the author's speculation about what might have happened if, rather than subduing the black slave rebellion in Haiti, Napoleon had recognized its leadership and spent those resources, supplemented by Hatian forces, to secure the territory the United States acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. American slavery might have been halted much earlier by armed uprising of slaves as French and Haitian troops occupied Louisiana, and American expansion to the Pacific Ocean might never have happened. (Washington Post review here.)