REVIEW: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Lafayette
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Lafayette
By Nathan Hale
Abrams Amulet, 128 pages, $13.99
There really is a Nathan Hale providing guided tours through American history, neatly playing off his namesake’s name recognition. The Eisner-nominated creator has explored the first Hale, the Donner party, and World War I. Here’s back with his eighth fun volume spotlighting the French adventurer and American patriot Marquis de Lafayette (revitalized thanks to Hamilton).
We get the Frenchman’s aristocratic background and upbringing, explaining how he found himself coming to America early during the War for Independence, well ahead of France’s more formal declaration of support,
Hale uses a masked version of himself to narrate the tale, pausing to help us identify the supporting figures in Lafayette’s life, enriching the overall narrative. The Frenchman arrives, seriously sea sick, in 1777 and is initially dismissed by the Continental Congress, considering him a dilettante. He’s dispatched to General George Washington, who welcomes him with open arms, making him an aide-de-camp, and puts him right to work while the military leader is also feuding with a frustrated Congress, some of whom are trying to remove him.
Lafayette, not yet twenty, is off to do battle, accompanied by Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s right-hand man. They grow to respect one another and Hale takes us through their various battles, demonstrating how Lafayette was more helpful than the Americans ever could have imagined.
Hale’s pages are filled with detail, using black, white, and shades of red to vividly bring the past to life. While aimed at middle grades, this would certainly be a fine supplemental work for slightly older readers. There are helpful maps and a useful bibliography along with a cheeky author’s note of sorts.
For people who claim history is boring, Hale through his works proves history is anything but.