by Joel Richard Paul '77
"...Paul's three intertwined lives tell us much about the power of personality, the complexity of human emotions, and as he put it best, "the accidental path of history."Chicago Tribune
- Learn more about the author (view alumni profile)
- Listen to the interview with Joel Paul and Professor William Taubman
- Read the review of Unlikely Allies in the Amherst magazine
- Read an excerpt from Unlikely Allies
- Read a message from the author and join the discussion
Unlikely Allies is the untold true story of the secret diplomacy that won the American Revolution. In 1775, Benjamin Franklin decides to send Silas Deane—a shopkeeper who has never left Connecticut in his life and can’t speak a word of French—on a secret mission to persuade the French king to arm the Americans. Franklin thinks Deane is such an improbable secret agent that the British spies will never suspect him. Hounded by spies, betrayed by his own colleagues, and besieged by privateers, Deane succeeds with the help of Beaumarchais, a French playwright, and the Chevalier d’Eon, the French ambassador to London. The sexually ambiguous d’Eon, a military hero, French spy, and cross-dresser provides the catalyst that persuades Louis XVI to aid the Americans. Full of political intrigue, betrayal, and espionage, Unlikely Allies is a bold reinterpretation of the struggle for Independence that exposes the complexity of human motivation and the accidental path of history.