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Excerpt from LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES by Sarah Vowell

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Voice Over • Audiobooks
22

Description

Reading from Sara Vowell's wry look at the life of Lafayette and the Revolutionary War.

Vocal Characteristics

Language

English

Voice Age

Middle Aged (35-54)

Accents

North American

Transcript

Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
there was literal and figural perspiration of plenty. At the Battle of Monmouth, the temperature was upwards of 100 degrees. The mouth of a heated oven seemed to me to be, but a trifle hotter than this plowed field, recalled Joseph Plumb Martin. Around 1/3 of the day's casualties would die of plain old heatstroke, including George Washington's horse. The Continentals fought until dusk, pushing back each enemy advance until Clinton bailed, conducting his men back toward the village of Monmouth Courthouse and out of range of Knox's artillery. We forced the enemy from the field, Washington wrote to Henry Lawrence and encamped on the ground, intending to resume the battle. At first light, the living slept there among the dead. Washington spread his cloak under an apple tree stretching out next to Lafayette. Like boys at a sleepover, they gossiped about Charles Lee until drifting off. Come morning, Washington discovered that Clinton had set decoy campfires to trick him into believing they would resume the engagement at Sun up. But Clinton had stolen away in the dark, marching his army to Sandy Hook. Royal Navy transport boats were waiting there to ferry them to Manhattan and safety before Sherm and I drive back to New York, we stopped at one more historic site in Freehold, the former home of some 20th century relatives of one private John Springsteen, who volunteered with the Monmouth County militia in 17 75. This is the modest clapboard duplex at 39 a half Institute Street, where Bruce Springsteen was living on September 9th, 1956 the night he watched Elvis Presley's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. After the broadcast, the six year old Springsteen talked his mother into renting him a guitar inspired, he later recalled, by the Passion and Elvis's pants. The pants always got a lot of play and for good reason. But when I went back to the clips of Hound Dog and Ready Teddy, I was just as mesmerized by the carnal hilarity of Presley spatial expressions, the finest eyebrow work since gradual marks. In a speech Springsteen delivered in Texas in 2012 he boiled down what he had learned that night from Elvis. You did not have to be constrained by your upbringing by the way you looked or by the social context that oppressed you, you could call upon your own powers of imagination, and you could create a transformative self. Later, email Sherm to thank him for indulging me. In that last stop, I was under the impression that he preferred our time at the museum in Monmouth Battlefield State Park with me talking at him about the significance of Friedrich von Steuben Army training manual on display. There not only was stopping at one of Springsteen's childhood homes appropriate, Sherm replies, it was an important part of the day for me as a Jersey boy, since it served as a great reminder that not all important fights take place on battlefields. Some take place in tiny houses or half houses, whether with family members or within oneself, and involve changing your course, convincing your mother to rent you a guitar or my father to buy me a typewriter and getting the **** out of that house. That town that state, it's a different kind of independence, personal instead of political. But one of the many things we want in that war fought over two centuries ago, turned out to be the freedom of expression that let a dude from Jersey write a song like Thunder Road