Most readers of The Wall Street Journal will recognize Lafayette by name. One of the few non-Americans counted among the heroes of the Revolution, dozens of American towns, counties and streets are named for him. But what of the niceties of the Marquis’s eventful life, spanning 1757 to 1834? Those who take up Mike Duncan’s comprehensive, birth-to-death biography will find this French-born nobleman, soldier and statesman to be a fascinating and paradoxical character. Fusing revolutionary energy with a tendency to seek moderation, even compromise, he was as extraordinary as the times in which he lived.