Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

  • by Sarah Vowell
  • Narrated by Sarah Vowell, John Slattery, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, Bobby Cannavale, John Hodgman, Stephanie March, Alexis Denisof
  • 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette - the one Frenchman we could all agree on - and an insightful portrait of a nation's idealism and its reality.
On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor, and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been 30 years since he had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.
Lafayette's arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans; it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing, singular past.
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.
John Slattery as the Marquis de Lafayette
Nick Offerman as George Washington
Fred Armisen as Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
Bobby Cannavale as Benjamin Franklin
John Hodgman as John Adams
Stephanie March as Evelyn Wotherspoon Wainwight and Linda Williams
Alexis Denisof as The British Leadership
Patton Oswalt as Thomas Jefferson and Sherm


What the Critics Say

"An A-list of recognizable voices, including those of John Hodgman reading John Adams and Nick Offerman portraying George Washington, delivers dozens of quotes from our forefathers. Vowell deftly stirs together tones of satire, superlative research, and, yes, patriotism to make American history irresistible. If she isn't a national treasure, she should be." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I love Sarah Vowell's Narration

I have listened to all of Sarah Vowell's books on audio because I love her narration. You can tell she used to be in radio because they are not simply straight narration, but have characters that interject.

Sarah Vowell is not a straight historian. If that is what you are looking for you will want to skip this. She is instead a historian that loves being side tracked and putting her own discovery into the story. This is first person research oriented history.

I also think this was the best since Assassination Vacation. Essentially this is the story of the french contribution to the American Revolutionary War. It is a good reminder that without French (and Dutch) help, it is likely that the United States would not have won the Revolutionary War.

I do wish she had spent some more time on Lafayette after the Revolution. And the recent bio I read on John Quincy Adams spent more time on Lafayette's return to the US nearly 50 years later than this did.

But all in all, if you are looking for a snarky history of the American Revolution, this is a good place to start.
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- Adam Shields "Book blogger at"

Spare me!!!!!!!!!!!!

What would have made Lafayette in the Somewhat United States better?

I don't know what possessed this author to narrate her own book. Extremely bad idea. I had to return the book within the first chapter. The narration resembles a 6-year-old with a speech impediment.

What was most disappointing about Sarah Vowell’s story?

I couldn't get passed the poor performance of the narration to appreciate the story.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Poor quality performance and not the caliber of voice, caidence, diction, etc....

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?


Any additional comments?

Publishers should think twice before allowing authors to narrate their own books.

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- karen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-20-2015
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio