Olivier is a French aristocrat, the child of survivors of the revolution. Parrot, the son of an English printer, is a restless servant. When Olivier sets sail for the New World – ostensibly to study its prisons, but in reality to avoid another revolution – Parrot is sent with him, as spy, protector, foe and foil. They are an unlikely pair, but where better for unlikely things to flourish than in the glorious, brand-new democratic experiment, America? And who better than Carey to show what Americans do not always wish to see: that their earliest observers included some who foresaw disastrous consequences for that experiment, well before they became headlines around the world.