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The biographer and essayist Anka Mulhstein talks with the historian François Furstenberg about his recent book, When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation, an account of the early years of the American republic through the eyes of five distinguished Frenchmen seeking refuge from their own Revolution.
François Furstenberg, the author of In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, is a professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, specializing in intellectual history and political culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 2013, he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society. Furstenberg worked on When the United States Spoke French when he was a fellow at the Cullman Center in 2009-10.
Anka Muhlstein is the author of numerous books on literature and history, including Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart: The Perils of a Marriage; Balzac’s Omelette; and Monsieur Proust’s Library. In 1996, she was awarded France’s Prix Goncourt for her biography of Astolphe de Custine, and she received the Prix de l’Académie française twice, for her books on Cavelier de la Salle and Baron James de Rothschild. Her essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books.