When the United States Spoke French -- Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation by Francois Furstenberg, The Penguin Press '14, $36, 498 pages, ASIN #1594204411. Index, illustration credits, notes, appendix, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"In 1793, as the wars of the French Revolution erupted in Europe, the new United States was struggling for survival in the face of financial insolvency and bitter political and regional divisions," writes author Francois Furstenberg in his latest work.
"When the United States Spoke French explores the Republic's formative years from the viewpoint of a circle of five distinguished Frenchmen taking refuge in America. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, these men had been among its leaders. They were liberal aristocrats who idealized the new American Republic, which seemed to them an em- bodiment of the Enlightenment ideals they celebrated. But the revolution in France escaped their control, and they found themselves chased across the Atlantic."
It is usually more effective, historians believe, to relate history through the accounts of its participants. In this case, Furstenberg "follows five men -- Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, Napoleon's future foreign minister; the theorist-reformer La Rochefoucauld, duc de Liancourt; Louis-Marie, vicomte de Noailles, Lafayette's brother-in-law; the writer Moreau de Saint-Mery; and the philosopher Constantin-Francois de Chasseboeuf, comte de Volney -- as they left their homes and families in France, crossed the Atlantic, and landed in Philadelphia, America's capital, its principal port, and by far its most cosmopolitan city, as well as the home of the wealthiest merchants and financiers."
Francois Furstenberg is an associate professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. He taught history in Montreal for a decade before returning to the United States. He is the author of one previous book about the American Revolution.
Jews and Booze -- Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition by Marni Davis, NY University Press '12 paperback, 261 pages, ASIN #1479882445. Index, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the back cover:
"At the turn of the century, American Jews and prohibitionists viewed one another with growing suspicion. Jews believed that all Americans had the right to sell and consume alcohol, while prohibitionists insisted that alcohol commerce and consumption posed a threat to the nation's morality and security.
"The two groups possessed incompatible visions of what it meant to be a productive and patriotic American -- and in 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution made aocohol commerce illegal, Jews discovered that anti-Semitic sentiments had mixed with anti-alcohol ideology, threatening Jews' reputation and standing in American society."
Author Marni Davis is assistant professor of history at Georgia State University.
Battle Ready -- The National Coast Defense System and the Fortification of Puget Sound, 1894-1925 by David M. Hansen, WSU Press '14 paperback, in oversized format on glossy stock. $32.95, 161 pages, ASIN #0874223202. Index, bibliography, notes, appendix, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the rear cover:
"Altered landscapes and an array of concrete structures -- remnants of Puget Sound fortifications -- serve as silent reminders of a unique chapter in Pacific Northwest history. The ocean inlet's wide entrance, deep waters, and recurrent fog left it vulnerable to attack. The waterway finally became part of the National Coast Defense System in 1894, when the value of real and personal property along its shores surpassed $160 million.....
"The removal of guns for use in World War I, as well as the redirection of specialized troops to field artillery units, heralded the defense system's demise. Eventually, armed forces abandoned permanent fortifications in favor of mobile artillery. None of Puget Sound's five forts ever saw battle, but like many military installations, they were most valuable as a strong deterrent."
Author David M. Hansen is a historian specializing in military architecture and a former Washington State Historic Preservation Officer. He is an authority on the preservation of historic military properties. He is a co-author of Built in Washington, published by WSU Press in 1989.