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Distributed for University Press of New England

Improbable Patriot

The Secret History of Monsieur de Beaumarchais, the French Playwright Who Saved the American Revolution

Distributed for University Press of New England

Improbable Patriot

The Secret History of Monsieur de Beaumarchais, the French Playwright Who Saved the American Revolution

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was an eighteenth-century French inventor, famed playwright, and upstart near-aristocrat in the court of King Louis XVI. In 1776, he conceived an audacious plan to send aid to the American rebels. What’s more, he convinced the king to bankroll the project, and singlehandedly carried it out. By war’s end, he had supplied Washington’s army with most of its weapons and powder, though he was never paid or acknowledged by the United States. To some, he was a dashing hero—a towering intellect who saved the American Revolution. To others, he was pure rogue—a double-dealing adventurer who stopped at nothing to advance his fame and fortune. In fact, he was both, and more: an advisor to kings, an arms dealer, and author of some of the most enduring works of the stage, including The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville.

260 pages | 6 x 9

History: American History


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations • Preface and Acknowledgments • We Must Help the Americans • Gold by God! The Fuel of Life! • Last Night Poor, Wealthy Today! • So You Mistreat Some Poor Devil . . . Till He Trembles in Disgrace! • I’m the Busiest, Cleverest Fellow I Know • Plotting and Pocketing • I Wish to Serve Your Country as if It Were My Own • Figaro Here, Figaro There . . . • Bright People Are So Stupid • What Did You Do to Earn So Many Rewards? • Tout finit par des chansons / Everything Ends in Song • All of Which Proves That a Son of a Clod Can Be Worth His Weight in Gold • Appendix: Works by Beaumarchais • Notes • Bibliography • Index

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