LIGHTENING STRIKE by William Kent Krueger

Color image of Iron Lake, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, 2012.
(Iron Lake region of northern Minnesota)

We live in a political culture where there is a movement to prevent teaching facts that pertain to our past history.  Boards of education and state officials are pressured to teach topics that avoid anything that might be negative about our America.  Be it slavery, the treatment of Native-Americans, white racism, or limiting the rights of women they are all under scrutiny by those who believe it presents white people in a damning light.  Sadly, it has become a political issue which deprives our children of accuracy in their education.  In William Kent Krueger’s latest novel in the Cork O’Conner series LIGHTENING STRIKE the reader is presented with a microcosm of Native-American history and life on the reservation in1963, a topic I imagine proponents of critical race theory would oppose.

Krueger’s seventeenth installment of the Cork O’Conner series serves as a prequel for the first sixteen novels and explores the daily life of the twelve year old Corcoran O’Conner, a precocious teenager and his relationship with his father Liam who is the sheriff of Tamarack County, MN.  The story unfolds in Aurora, MN, a small town on the shores of Minnesota’s Iron Range, the setting of many of Krueger’s previous novels where Cork serves in the same position as his father and is trying to put back his marriage with Nancy Jo and their three children, Jenny a typical teenager, Steven, a kindergartner, and Anne a middle school student.  As sheriff Cork has to deal with the needs of Native-Americans who live on the reservation in northern Minnesota and the myriad of issues ranging from murder, drugs, the environment all wrapped up in local politics.  As I read the series I often wondered about Cork’s background, and Krueger’s latest work provides many answers.

1: Watersheds (HUC-08) of the Mesabi Iron Range. The subwatersheds (HUC-10) are those portions of the watersheds located within the mining region. 

Set in 1963, the novel is about the coming of age of a son trying to unravel the mystery that had been his father.  The story begins as the young Cork and his friend Jorge are hiking in the Superior National Forest along an abandoned logging road.  They will come across a man, Big John Manydeeds hanging from a tree, an apparent suicide.  Manydeeds was close with Cork who served as an excellent guide in the Quetico-Superior wilderness.  Cork’s father, Liam is in charge of the investigation and concludes that all the evidence points to a suicide, not murder.  For Cork, the incident sparks many questions surrounding death, i.e.; the Ojibwe belief in the soul walking a path to a better place and the Christian view of heaven.

Liam and Manydeeds had fought in World War II and experienced many things they would like to forget.  Both experience characteristics of PTSD which Liam is able to cope with, but Big John turns to alcohol for solace in dealing with his demons.  The “suicide” scene at a clearing called Lightening Strike is littered with whiskey bottles as is Big John’s cabin.  The issue of Native-American alcoholism on the reservation is one of the aspects of Indian life that Krueger explores in detail through his characters.  Liam may accept the death was suicide, but his son Cork does not who along with his friend Jorge and Big John’s nephew Billy.  The three boys begin to conduct their own parallel investigation which reminded me of the Hardy Boy mysteries I read as a youngster.

Krueger provides painful glimpses into reservation life and how for over a century the federal government has tried to ruin Native-American culture by forceful assimilation into the white man’s world.  Liam is responsible for enforcing the law on the reservation and must deal with the anger and distrust that Indians feel toward white society.  Interestingly, Liam’s spouse Colleen is half Anishinaabe.

View All
(Iron Lake, Minnesota)

Pressure from Native-American reservation leaders like Sam Winter Moon, Liam’s friend and his mother-in-law Grandma Dilsey, along with Cork’s own investigation convince Liam that Big John did not commit suicide.  The question that emerges is who was responsible for the death.  Emerging evidence points to Duncan MacDermind, the owner of a vast mining complex whose racial views are untenable.  MacDermind, a racist who fought in World War II and was aboard the Indianapolis and survived a Japanese attack that killed over 2000 also suffers from PTSD.  The question is motive.  Why would MacDermind kill Big John?  Rumors of an affair may be the answer, but it is not clear, particularly since the county attorney is in MacDermind’s hip pocket.  MacDermind is not the only person of interest, perhaps Big John’s half brother Oscar was guilty, or perhaps the culprit is someone who we cannot fathom.

Krueger introduces a number of characters that appear in his later novels.  Henry Meloux, a member of the Grand Medicine Society, is a Mide or healer and is the philosophical leader that reservation members turn to for advice.  Sam Winter Moon, Liam’s close friend will serve the same role for Cork.  Both men try to guide Liam and his son and try to make them understand the impact the death of Big John and the disappearance of Louise La Rosa, a young Ojibwe girl whose body was found in the Boundary Waters has on the reservation population.   Liam was under intense pressure as he was caught in the middle as Native-Americans whose badge made him an athame as a white sheriff, whites in the community referring to him as the “squaw man” for having married a half Indian woman, and even his mother-in-law and wife questioning his approach to the investigation.

William Kent Krueger
(William Kent Krueger, the author)

LIGHTENING STRIKE explores the gentle relationship between a father and son and provides insights into the type of man Cork will become.  It is written with grace and understanding and lays the groundwork for the wonderful series that Krueger has developed as Liam has seeded compelling and complicated wisdom to his son which will make him a better man.

Iron Lake Campground
(Superior National Forest, Iron Lake Region, Minnesota)


The dates December 5 through the 7th, 1941 mark the parameters of the most consequential week of the 20th century or perhaps any other time in history.  It was during that week that the Soviet Union began a major counter offensive against the Nazis who were threatening Moscow, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and Hitler declared war on the United States.  It was a perilous time for the British who had endured Dunkirk, the Luftwaffe’s blitz over London and other cities, fears of Japanese attacks against British held territories in Asia, and Churchill’s fear that the only thing that could save his island empire – the entrance of the United States into the war against Germany would not occur as Washington would now focus on Japan after Pearl Harbor.  The event that saved the British was the Nazi dictator’s declaration of war against the United States, an act that should be difficult to understand since Germany was already fighting a devastating two front war.

Historians have questioned for decades why Hitler would take on the United States when Germany faced so many obstacles.  The German alliance with Japan was defensive predicated on an attack on Japan which the events of December 7th made obsolete.  In analyzing Hitler’s decision making historians fall into two camps.  The first, Hitler was a nihilist who was driven by an egoistic personality in making numerous irrational decisions.  The second school of thought has ferreted out a semblance of strategic calculations in his decision making.  In his latest book, British historian Brendan Simms and his co-author Charlie Laderman entitled, HITLER’S AMERICAN GAMBLE: PEARL HARBOR AND GERMANY’S MARCH TO WAR support the latter analysis which is consistent with Simms’s 2019 biography of Hitler when he argued that Hitler was well aware of American power and war with the United States was inevitable therefore his decision was pre-emptive.

Whichever argument one accepts it is clear that Simms and Laderman have made a compelling case in analyzing Hitler’s thought process the first part of December 1941 which led him to declare war on America.  Along with this analysis, the authors dig deeply into the state of the war as of early December, the realpolitik practiced by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and the key role played by the Japanese government.


The authors have written a detailed description of the uncertainty that existed between December 5-12, 1941.  It seems as if the reader is present as decisions are made by the main participants hour by hour.  The blow by blow account is incisive and the results of Hitler’s decision to declare war on the United states would launch a global war.  The authors make a compelling case that before the onset of war the Japanese government did not trust Hitler as they feared the Nazi dictator would seize Vichy French colonies in Southeast Asia.  Simms and Laderman provide an accurate appraisal of the background history leading to December 7th.  They raise interesting points, many of which have been written about by previous historians. 

Lend Lease plays a significant role in the thinking of all the participants leading up to and after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The authors are clear and correct when they argue that the American aid policy infuriated Hitler.  For the Fuhrer it reinforced the connection in his mind that capitalism, Jews, and American policy were all part of a conspiracy against Germany.  From Hitler’s perspective American actions were driving Germany towards war against the United States.  For example, in March 1941 the American navy began to protect British convoys across the Atlantic.  In addition, the U.S. would expand its defensive zone all the way to Greenland and reinforce its Atlantic Fleet.  Lend Lease also played a key role in Hitler’s thinking even after December 7th.  The authors spend a great deal of time discussing how Churchill and Roosevelt believed that the Nazis pressured the Japanese to attack developing the hope that the Japanese attack would force an American declaration of war against Tokyo and forcing Washington to reduce its aid to England and the Soviet Union because of its own needs in the Pacific.  Hitler was under no illusion concerning US military production, but he would come to believe that the Nazis should strike before the American military-industrial complex could reach maximum production.

As Hitler contemplated declaring war against the United States, Churchill and the British government desperate for continued Lend Lease worried that the aid would be reduced because of US needs in East Asia.  Churchill was especially concerned because of the ongoing fighting in North Africa and the threat to the Suez Canal.  In fact, the authors point out that aid was stopped for a brief period as disagreement arose between Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Lend Lease administrator Edward Stettinius. 

From the Japanese perspective they were unsure if they could rely on a German declaration of war.  The authors mine the commentary of Japanese leaders particularly Foreign Minister Shigenari Togo who did not trust that Germany would join the war against the United States.

Roosevelt was concerned about America Firsters and isolationists in Congress.  Both groups were willing to fight the Japanese but were against involvement in Europe as they refused to fight for what they perceived to be British colonial interests.  FDR walked a fine line and refused to meet with Churchill after December 7th as to not exacerbate domestic opposition.  Hitler’s declaration made it easier for Roosevelt to declare war on Germany and overcome isolationist opposition.

The Repulse and Prince of Wales Battleships: How They Sunk

(The sinking of the British battleships Repulse and The Prince of Wales December 10, 1941)

The coming Holocaust against European Jewry played a role in Hitler’s strategy.  The Nazi dictator saw the Jews of Europe as hostages to keep FDR from taking further action against Germany.  It did not stop the murderous horror taking place in eastern Europe but as long as the US did not enter the war the fate of western European Jewry would be postponed.  However, the authors argue effectively argue that once Hitler declared war against the United States, in his mind they were no longer a bargaining chip in dealing with Washington.  He was now free to conduct his Final Solution against western and central European Jews.

Churchill & Roosevelt. /Nprime Minister Winston Churchill And President Franklin D. Roosevelt Photographed During A Press Conference In
(Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt)

The authors astutely point out the role of racism in the war.  John W. Dower’s amazing study, WAR WITHOUT MERCY: RACE AND POWER IN THE PACIFIC WAR is the best study of the issue arguing that war in the Pacific was a racial war.  For Simms and Laderman the decision making process on the part of Anglo-American military planners was greatly influenced by their low opinion of Japanese military capability.  Leadership on both sides of the Atlantic could not fathom the idea that the Japanese had the ability to launch intricate attacks such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, Malaya, the Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Southeast Asia at the same time.  This type of thinking also resulted in disaster for the Royal Navy as Japanese bombers destroyed Force Z that included the sinking of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales.

Simms and Laderman do an excellent job delving into the calculations of the major participants in the coming war.  The significant issues apart from Hitler’s decision as to whether he should declare war on the United States included whether Stalin should declare war on Japan? How would England and the Soviet Union make up for the shortfall of Lend Lease aid in the immediate future?  How would FDR overcome domestic opposition to US participation in the European War and so on?

(Japanese envoys in Washington, DC December 1941)

The authors also do an admirable job integrating the opinions of people across the globe concerning the implications for Japanese actions in the Pacific.  People as diverse as the former mayor of Cologne Konrad Adenauer (and future German leader after WWII) to everyday citizens on the streets of Berlin, London, Leningrad, intellectuals in Poland tosoldiers on the eastern front.  For all the key was what would Hitler do – would he declare war on the United States and unleash a global war as Mussolini had warned or would he allow Japan to take on the American colossus themselves.

Overall, Simms and Laderman have written a thought provoking book that breaks down the December 5-12th 1941 period for three-fourths of their narrative that includes an important introduction that sets the scene for Hitler’s decisions and the implications that the decisions would have for the future of the war which would not end until August 1945.

NIGHT DOGS by Kent Anderson

(North Portland, OR in the 1970s)

Set in Portland, Oregon in 1975, Kent Anderson follows his first novel, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, with another exceptional work entitled NIGHT DOGS.  In his first book, a searing examination of the war in Vietnam, its effect on those who fought it, and the insanity of war Anderson focused on SGT Hanson an army enlistee after three years of college who volunteered for Special Forces, completed a tour of duty in Vietnam, and then reenlisted for another tour when he could not readapt to civilian life.  Hanson is a fascinating character as he became a hardened combat veteran while continuing to carry a book of Yeats’ poetry with him as he engaged the enemy.  In NIGHT DOGS we are reintroduced to Hanson who has traded his Bronze Star for a policeman’s badge.  Hanson still suffers from the demons of Vietnam as he patrols Portland’s meanest streets and is also confronted with enemies within the department who are bent on destroying him by digging into his war record and resurrecting the agonies associated with the events in southeast Asia. 

Robert J. Lifton, the author of HOME FROM THE WAR a study of the psychological impact on American soldiers in Vietnam written in 1973 was the motivating force behind the Veteran’s Administration’s decision to recognize PTSD as a clinical condition.  Lifton describes PTSD as a mental and behavioral disorder that can develop because of exposure to a traumatic event or events, particularly combat.  Anderson’s protagonist, SGT. Hanson is a textbook case and throughout the novel as he pursued the daily grind of policing in the poverty stricken violent ghetto of north Portland he provides evidence of the characteristics of PTSD especially flashbacks, interjecting his wartime experiences in daily conversations, nightmares, and recurrent conversations about the war with his elderly blind rescue dog, Truman who in a sense serves as Hanson’s “therapy” dog.

Anderson provides a glimpse into the nuances of a policeman’s day.  We ride along with Hanson and his partner Dana as they respond to calls over their radio in their assigned area dealing with car accidents, domestic violence, noise complaints, drug raids, shootings, robberies, welfare problems and a number of situations where they are the catalysts for their definition of crimes.  At the time the book was written in 1996 the issue of police brutality highlighted by the beating of Rodney King on April 29, 1992, was fresh in the mind of the author and if we fast forward to today; the Black Lives Matter movement,  George Floyd, and other police shootings of black men the book remains extremely relevant.

(Author Kent Anderson serving in Vietnam)

The Vietnam War is revisited through Hanson’s thoughts and commentary throughout the book.  As in his first novel, Anderson presents the hypocrisy of a senseless and dysfunctional war that was/is responsible for ruining the lives of countless soldiers through suicide, life long physical and mental injuries, and government policies that evolved decades later that some refer to as Vietnam Syndrome. 

Anderson explores police culture in fine detail as officers have to deal with urban decay and its attendant issues each day in Portland’s ever growing under world.  As in all police precincts officers are not always simpatico as is the case with narcotics Detective Fox and his partner, Detective Peety.  In Fox’s case it has become personal as he is obsessed in seeking revenge against Hanson for perceived lack of cooperation with narcotics cases and a general dislike.  Fox spends a great deal of time on and off duty going through Pentagon computers trying to dig up information concerning Hanson’s tours in Vietnam in order to destroy his career. The north Portland precinct that Hanson belong to has a reputation for being a landing spot for police officers and administrators who have “royally” screwed up and many of the characters Anderson introduces fit that pattern.

(Kent Anderson)

The only people that Hanson truly respects are his patrol car partners, Dana and Zurbo, but the only person he trusts is Doc Dawson, a black former member of his Special Forces team in Vietnam.  Doc’s helicopter is shot down and he winds up in a New Jersey VA hospital where certain racist nurses have it in for him and make his recovery miserable.  The end result, upon recovery he will return home and become a drug dealer and killer, and because of his VA treatment he walks with a limp and has a chip on his shoulder.  Hanson owes Doc his life because of an incident in the war and their friendship is rather unusual to say the least.

Anderson’s treatment of Hanson’s Special Forces training produces a number of scenes that are extremely disturbing, particularly how soldiers shot dogs, saved them while practicing medical training to be used in combat, and when the dogs recovered they are killed.  In many ways Hanson’s experiences as a policeman mirror what he endured in Vietnam.  In a sense the US military was seen as serving as an army of occupation in Vietnam.  On the domestic front, many people see the police serving the same function in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

During the summer of 1975, Hanson begins to unravel.  He is assigned a number of harrowing cases and colleagues die.  He will be targeted by O. Payette Simpson, a demented man who goes by the name Dakota who has targeted him.  Detective Fox’s research vendetta begins to haunt him.  His masochistic girlfriend, Sara, eggs him on to be more violent.  Finally, his loyalty to Doc threatens his professional loyalties as his drinking and cocaine use increase.

Hanson is a complex character and is accurately described by Michael Harris in the Los Angeles Times review “The Forces Battling for a Policeman’s Soul” from January 1997;” If Hanson were really a “monster” and a racist, he could rest content in his war-won certainties. But he can’t. The real reason he hates liberals is that he’s a little bit of a liberal himself. Though he doesn’t believe in love, he knows he needs it. Though civilization is wimpy and hypocritical, he dimly senses that it’s all we have. Though he treats some black offenders with gleeful brutality, he admits it’s not their fault that society has chosen to leave them in poverty, isolate them and suppress them by force rather than deal with their problems.”

Many novels have been written about the lives of policemen and soldiers, but few if any have delved into the propensity of the American people for violence as well as NIGHT DOGS.  Anderson’s work is well done, but it also presents a very important lesson which we should all digest.

Delegates to the American Legion national convention watched from sidewalks as the People's Army Jamboree marched through downtown Portland in August 1970. (The Oregonian)
(North Portland, OR in the mid 1970s)


Portrait of Marquis de Lafayette
(Marquis de Lafayette)

While on one of my 5 1/2 mile walks the other day the music from the Broadway show “Hamilton” reverberated in my ear buds.  After having taught a course trying to discern the historical accuracy of the musical with numerous references to the Marquis de Lafayette I decided to digest Mike Duncan’s latest work, HERO OF TWO WORLDS: THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE IN THE AGES OF REVOLUTION. Since 2013 Duncan has recorded about 150 hours for his podcast Revolutions, a chronological blow by blow account of ten historical revolutions between the 17th and early 20th centuries and in his new book he expands upon three seasons of his podcast.   In terms of historical depth and important insights I found Duncan’s work satisfying and at times insightful.  If one compares Lafayette’s character in the musical to his actual life, apart from artistic license there is an acceptable degree of accuracy in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work if one delves into the lyrics surrounding the American Revolution.  However, Lafayette’s life story is more than his key role in the American Revolution and his relationship with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Laurens as he was a focal part in the Age of Revolution that encompassed the latter part of the 18th century and the first third of the 19th.

It is an understatement to say that Lafayette lived a remarkable life.  In Duncan’s somewhat hagiographic approach to biography the hero of the American Revolution is presented in a mostly positive lens, sprinkled in with a few errors and foibles that Lafayette succumbed to.  The key to understanding the time period in which Lafayette lived is to familiarize the reader with the socio-economic and political structure of pre-revolutionary France.  Duncan avails himself of every opportunity to explain the three estate structure of the French political system highlighted by the fact that the first two estates which made up most of the wealth of the French kingdom could not be taxed.  Instead of the nobles carrying their fair share of the tax burden, the monarchy relied upon taxing the third estate made up of laborer’s, peasants, educators, and the petit bourgeoisie to make up the budget shortfall as the monarchy edged toward bankruptcy.  However, before Duncan turns to events in France he explores Lafayette’s early years that culminated in a major-generalship in the Continental Army under General Washington by age 24.

Louis XVI
(French King Louis XVI)

Duncan is very perceptive in his approach to Lafayette’s upbringing and educational training.  He was left fatherless as his father was killed in battle in 1759. By 1770 his mother had passed, and Lafayette inherited a great deal of wealth as a member of the lower nobility.  The key for the then teenager was his marriage into the de Noailles family where his father-in-law turned his education away from the countryside and book learning to a military career and the life of a privileged nobleman.  Lafayette rejected this career plan and based on his diaries and his letters to his wife Adrienne which Duncan integrates throughout the narrative vowed to make a name for himself and pursue what he believed should become a just society.

Duncan argues that the summer of 1775 was the turning point for Lafayette as he seemed to latch on to the ideas of “liberty, equality, and the rights of man” probably developed while he was exposed to Freemasonry and his Masonic brethren.  After learning about the Battles of Lexington and Concord across the Atlantic he secured a position on a list of French officers who were sent to the English colonies to assist the revolutionaries as a means of revenge for the Treaty of Paris of 1763 which resulted in defeat for France at the end of the Seven Years War by the British.  Duncan does an admirable job explaining the French characters that were key to aiding the revolutionaries, men like the French Foreign Minister Charles Gravier, Count of Vergennes and Pierre Beaumarchais, an arms trader and financier who helped finance and supply weapons and other materials that fueled French assistance.

Marie Adrienne Francoise de Noailles, French School 18th century copy.jpg
(Adrienne, the Marquis de Lafayette’s wife)

Perhaps the most interesting relationship that Duncan develops is between Washington and Lafayette.  At first the Colonial commander was not impressed with Lafayette seeing him as another privileged French general who strutted around and knew little about military tactics and commanding men.  However, after the Battle of Brandywine in 1777 Lafayette proved himself in battle with his ability to improvise his command and his remarkable bravery which at times bordered on personal recklessness.  Soon Washington would become a surrogate father for the newly minted French general and he a “son” to his commander.

Duncan reviews the most important aspects of the American Revolution, the political and military factions it spawned, and the most important characters involved.  Written in a workman like manner there is little that is new here as the author rehashes Lafayette’s positive contributions, his own wealth, leadership, and connections with the French government to lobby support for greater French support which culminated in the British defeat.

(Napoleon Bonaparte)

Duncan does not neglect Lafayette’s weakness as a father and husband.  While he off seeking glory and developing a heroic persona he left his wife and children, one of which dies while he was away in America.  Duncan is correct by emphasizing his wife Adrienne’s love for her husband but also her sense of abandonment and loneliness. 

Lafayette’s experience in America reinforced his views about the corruptibility of the nobility and their lack of social consciousness.  As he evolved into a social reformer he overlooked the hypocrisy of his compatriots in America concerning slavery as he adopted  abolitionism, worked for prison reform, religious freedom, freedom of speech and the press all in the name of the betterment of the masses.  Later as the French Revolution reached its pinnacle he would prepare a list of reforms called the Declaration of Rights of Man which he offered the new National Assembly in1788 which would become the basis of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen a year later.  Over a five year period after the Treaty of Paris with England in 1783, Lafayette transitioned from an adventurous soldier to a liberal benefactor of humanity, particularly starving peasants, oppressed Protestants, and enslaved Africans.

Duncan’s insights into Lafayette’s precarious position as the French Revolution approached are important as he delves into his attempts to follow a middle course.  He remained loyal to Louis XVI as long as the king did not go back on promises to implement reforms particularly when the king was forced to leave Versailles for Paris once the revolution took hold.  Lafayette was appointed the commanding general of the 30,000 man National Guard to protect the city from violence and any threats that might prevent the writing of a constitution.  To many, particularly on the left, men like Jean-Paul Marat, Camille Desmoulins and George Danton he was a tool of the monarchy.  However ultra-royalists saw him as working to undermine the nobility as he worked for a constitutional monarchy. As Lafayette tried to hold the center he seemed to offend everyone.

[Washington and Jefferson] Look on This Picture, and On This
(George Washington and Thomas Jefferson)

Eventually as the French Revolution turned increasingly violent with the Reign of Terror, Lafayette fled to Austria and was treated as a dangerous revolutionary and would be imprisoned for five years. Duncan carefully crafts Lafayette’s plight as a prisoner under the auspices of Francis I, the Habsburg Emperor.  He would spend the last year in the Austrian prison at Olmutz enduring horrible conditions.  Towards the end of his imprisonment, he would be joined by his wife Adrienne and three daughters who would suffer along with their husband and father.  Finally, as the French rebuilt their military might to counter the English, Prussian, and Austrian armies they would free Lafayette when a young Napoleon Bonaparte liberated the prison.  By 1814 he would reenter the political fray as the Bourbon restoration after the Congress of Vienna turned reactionary.  He would be instrumental in the overthrow of the Bourbon Dynasty in 1830 that placed Louis-Phillipe on the throne, but the new monarch would only disappoint him.

Duncan does an admirable job reflecting on Lafayette’s career and the causes he was drawn to.  Duncan is up front when discussing his subjects’ limitations seeing him as a man dominated by an overwhelming amount of energy, but he lacked the intelligence of many of his important contemporaries.  It is clear that Lafayette’s lack of personal ambition was key as it limited his ability to engage in the cutthroat politics of France during his lifetime, and the hero worship that he was graced with never really matched concrete accomplishments once the gains of 1789 were made.

File:Franz Xaver Winterhalter King Louis Philippe.jpg
(Louis Philippe)

Overall, Duncan is a masterful historical storyteller who has made an important contribution to the literature that surrounds Lafayette’s life.  He dissects all of the major aspects of his personal life and career, and one could only conclude that Lafayette lived a remarkable life that saw him engage in important aspects of two of the three most important revolutions in history (the Russian Revolution being the third) of what British historian, Eric Hobsbawm has labeled the “Age of Revolution.”

Lafayette : stock illustration
(Marquis de Lafayette)