Michelle Kung
August 31, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Though a stoic frontiersman from Virginia and a hot-blooded French teen aristocrat seem like improbable allies, George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette formed an unusually strong bond. Lafayette even named his son after his military mentor, but as James R. Gaines (former managing editor of TIME and PEOPLE) argues in the meticulous, engaging For Liberty and Glory, both men undercut each other’s actions and disagreed on major issues like slavery. Gaines adroitly weaves their lives into the larger historical narrative, devoting equal time to military strategy and colorful characters like the chevalier d’Eon, a cross-dressing spy. A-

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