Look out for Joel Paul’s new book, Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times
The gripping true story of how three men used espionage, betrayal, and sexual deception to help win the American Revolution.
Unlikely Allies is the story of three remarkable historical figures. Silas Deane was a Connecticut merchant and delegate to the Continental Congress as the American colonies struggled to break with England. Caron de Beaumarchais was a successful playwright who wrote The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. And the flamboyant and mysterious Chevalier d?Eon ?officer, diplomat, and sometime spy?was the talk of London and Paris. Is the Chevalier a man or a woman?
When Deane is sent to France to convince the French government to support the revolutionary cause, he enlists the help of Beaumarchais. Together, they successfully smuggle weapons, ammunition, and supplies to New England just in time for the crucial Battle of Saratoga, which turned the tide of the American Revolution. And the catalyst for Louis XVI?s support of the Americans against England was the Chevalier d?Eon, whose decision to declare herself a woman helped to lead to the Franco-American alliance. These three people spin a fascinating web of political intrigue and international politics that stretches across oceans as they ricochet from Versailles to Georgian London to the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia. Each man has his own reasons for wanting to see America triumph over the British, and each contends daily with the certainty that no one is what they seem. The line between friends and enemies is blurred, spies lurk in every corner, and the only way to survive is to trust no one.
An edge-of-your-seat story full of fascinating characters and lavish with period detail and sense of place, Unlikely Allies is Revolutionary history in all of its juicy, lurid glory.
In this debut, lawyer and academic Paul examines three critical but forgotten characters of the American Revolution. The merchant is American Silas Deane, a Connecticut man sent to France by Congress to broker an alliance and arms treaty for the Continental Army. The playwright is a Frenchman named Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, author of The Barber of Seville, who saw the Revolution as an opportunity for profit. The spy is the colorful Chevalier d'Eon, who worked for Louis XV, and threatened to provoke war with England after Louis XVI came to power, using old letters that outlined a plan to invade London. Beaumarchais was tasked with retrieving those letters from the Chevalier before Louis XVI would provide funds to arm the Americans. Once secured, Beaumarchais worked with Deane to import arms, and other trade goods, without raising the suspicions of the British. Paul's 18th century is highly detailed, but most striking is how little war profiteering has changed in 200-plus years, complete with Congressional infighting among honest lawmakers and those using the system for personal gain. Examining the Revolutionary War through three disparate figures, Paul reveals just how close the wealthiest colonists came to replacing one oppressive aristocracy with another.