French assistance was critical to America’s fight in the Revolutionary War, but the full story of France’s involvement is not often discussed. On Thursday March 25, 2021 at 5pm, the Newport Historical Society will host Tom Shachtman, author of How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution, to share insight from his book. 

How the French Saved America details this important story, from its intrigue-laden beginnings, to the financial aid and the military ventures that were at first disastrous but were later triumphant. It features iconic figures such as Lafayette and others who are not as well-known including Louis Duportail, who founded our Corps of Engineers, the Comte de Vergennes, France’s pro-American foreign minister, and Admiral de Grasse, whose insistence on taking his fleet to Yorktown, over the objections of George Washington, produced the great Franco-American victory that ended the war.  

This free talk will take place through Zoom, but registration is required. To participate, email

Tom Shachtman is the author or co-author of forty books of non-fiction and fiction, and a documentarian whose work has been broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and on British, French, and German television. His most recent nonfiction books are a trilogy about the American Revolutionary Era: How the French Saved America (2017), Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionary Heroes (2014), and The Founding Fortunes (2020). He is a life member of the Writers Guild of America, a former chairman of the board of The Writers Room in New York City, and a former trustee of the Connecticut Humanities Council. He has lectured at the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Newberry Library, the Hoover Institution, and at many colleges and universities. 

This talk is the first in a series of programs that highlight the French presence in Newport during the Revolutionary War. Other programs will include living history presentations, both socially distanced and online, a monthly French in Newport walking tour, and virtual lectures.