Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pierre Beaumarchais, Benjamin Franklin and Proud Destiny

I find late 18th Century history fascinating and while I don't usually read historical novels, there is one about this period that I recommend highly, Proud Destiny or Arms For America written in 1947 by Leon Feuchtwanger. This novel, set in 1776 Paris, is about Pierre Beaumarchais and Benjamin Franklin and the negotiations and intrigue involved in getting French support for the American Revolution. Pierre Beaumarchais was one of the Renaissance men of his era. Diplomat, spy, inventor, musician, businessman and playwright, his life was a series of successes in business, society and the theater and defeats including bankruptcy, exile and imprisonment.
Someone should make a movie about Beaumarchais...all the essential elements are, scandal, spying and success.

Leon Feuchtwanger was one of the major German authors of the 20th Century whose works have pretty much been forgotten (unlike the works of Thomas Mann, for example). A early critic of the Nazi's, he fled to France where he was latter interned and fortunately able to escape to the United States where he settled, like so many other German emigres, in Los Angeles. Like many intellectuals of the 1930's Feuchtwanger was an unapologetic supporter of Stalin who ignored the horror of Stalin's show trials.
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