ISBN-10:
1400032539
ISBN-13:
2901400032531
Pub. Date:
11/08/2005
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
His Excellency: George Washington / Edition 1

His Excellency: George Washington / Edition 1

by Joseph J. Ellis
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Overview

The author of seven highly acclaimed books, Joseph J. Ellis has crafted a landmark biography that brings to life in all his complexity the most important and perhaps least understood figure in American history, George Washington. With his careful attention to detail and his lyrical prose, Ellis has set a new standard for biography.

Drawing from the newly catalogued Washington papers at the University of Virginia, Joseph Ellis paints a full portrait of George Washington’s life and career—from his military years through his two terms as president. Ellis illuminates the difficulties the first executive confronted as he worked to keep the emerging country united in the face of adversarial factions. He richly details Washington’s private life and illustrates the ways in which it influenced his public persona. Through Ellis’s artful narration, we look inside Washington’s marriage and his subsequent entrance into the upper echelons of Virginia’s plantation society. We come to understand that it was by managing his own large debts to British merchants that he experienced firsthand the imperiousness of the British Empire. And we watch the evolution of his attitude toward slavery, which led to his emancipating his own slaves in his will. Throughout, Ellis peels back the layers of myth and uncovers for us Washington in the context of eighteenth-century America, allowing us to comprehend the magnitude of his accomplishments and the character of his spirit and mind.

When Washington died in 1799, Ellis tells us, he was eulogized as "first in the hearts of his countrymen." Since then,however, his image has been chisled onto Mount Rushmore and printed on the dollar bill. He is on our landscape and in our wallets but not, Ellis argues, in our hearts. Ellis strips away the ivy and legend that have grown up over the Washington statue and recovers the flesh-and-blood man in all his passionate and fully human prowess.

In the pantheon of our republic’s founders, there were many outstanding individuals. And yet each of them—Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison— acknowledged Washington to be his superior, the only indispensable figure, the one and only "His Excellency." Both physically and politically, Washington towered over his peers for reasons this book elucidates. His Excellency is a full, glorious, and multifaceted portrait of the man behind our country’s genesis, sure to become the authoritative biography of George Washington for many decades.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2901400032531
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/08/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Joseph Ellis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Founding Brothers. His portrait of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx, won the National Book Award. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife, Ellen, and their youngest son, Alex.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Interior Regions


History first noticed George Washington in 1753, as a daring and resourceful twenty-one-year-old messenger sent on a dangerous mission into the American wilderness. He carried a letter from the governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie, addressed to the commander of French troops in that vast region west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and south of the Great Lakes that Virginians called the Ohio Country. He was ordered to lead a small party over the Blue Ridge, then across the Allegheny Mountains, there to rendezvous with an influential Indian chief called the Half-King. He was then to proceed to the French outpost at Presque Isle (present-day Erie, Pennsylvania), where he would deliver his message “in the Name of His Britanic Majesty.” The key passage in the letter he was carrying, so it turned out, represented the opening verbal shot in what American colonists would call the French and Indian War: “The Lands upon the river Ohio, in the Western Parts of the Colony of Virginia, are so notoriously known to be the Property of the Crown of Great Britain, that it is a Matter of equal Concern & Surprize to me, to hear that a Body of French Forces are erecting Fortresses, & making Settlements upon that River within his Majesty’s Dominions.”

The world first became aware of young Washington at this moment, and we get our first extended look at him, because, at Dinwiddie’s urging, he published an account of his adventures, The Journal of Major George Washington, which appeared in several colonial newspapers and was then reprinted by magazines in England and Scotland. Though he was only an emissary—the kind of valiant and agile youth sent forward against difficult odds to perform a hazardous mission—Washington’s Journal provided readers with a firsthand report on the mountain ranges, wild rivers, and exotic indigenous peoples within the interior regions that appeared on most European maps as dark and vacant spaces. His report foreshadowed the more magisterial account of the American West provided by Lewis and Clark more than fifty years later. It also, if inadvertently, exposed the somewhat ludicrous character of any claim by “His Britanic Majesty,” or any European power, for that matter, to control such an expansive frontier that simply swallowed up and spit out European presumptions of civilization.

Although Washington is both the narrator and the central character in the story he tells, he says little about himself and nothing about what he thinks. “I have been particularly cautious,” he notes in the preface, “not to augment.” The focus, instead, is on the knee-deep snow in the passes through the Alleghenies, and the icy and often impassably swollen rivers, where he and his companions are forced to wade alongside their canoes while their coats freeze stiff as boards. Their horses collapse from exhaustion and have to be abandoned. He and fellow adventurer Christopher Gist come upon a lone warrior outside an Indian village ominously named Murdering Town. The Indian appears to befriend them, then suddenly wheels around at nearly point-blank range and fires his musket, but inexplicably misses. “Are you shot?” Washington asks Gist, who responds that he is not. Gist rushes the Indian and wants to kill him, but Washington will not permit it, preferring to let him escape. They come upon an isolated farmhouse on the banks of the Monongahela where two adults and five children have been killed and scalped. The decaying corpses are being eaten by hogs.

In stark contrast to the brutal conditions and casual savagery of the frontier environment, the French officers whom Washington encounters at Fort Le Boeuf and Presque Isle resemble pieces of polite Parisian furniture plopped down in an alien landscape. “They received us with a great deal of complaisance,” Washington observes, the French offering flattering pleasantries about the difficult trek Washington’s party had endured over the mountains. But they also explained that the claims of the English king to the Ohio Country were demonstrably inferior to those of the French king, which were based on Lasalle’s exploration of the American interior nearly a century earlier. To solidify their claim of sovereignty, a French expedition had recently sailed down the Ohio River, burying a series of lead plates inscribed with their sovereign’s seal that obviously clinched the question forever.

The French listened politely to Washington’s rebuttal, which derived its authority from the original charter of the Virginia Company in 1606. It had set the western boundary of that colony either at the Mississippi River or, even more expansively, at the Pacific Ocean. In either case, it included the Ohio Country and predated Lasalle’s claim by sixty years. However persuasive this rather sweeping argument might sound in Williamsburg or London, it made little impression on the French officers. “They told me,” Washington wrote in his Journal, “it was their absolute Design to take Possession of the Ohio, & by G     they wou’d do it.” The French commander at Fort Le Boeuf, Jacques Le Gardner, sieur de Saint Pierre, concluded the negotiations by drafting a cordial letter for Washington to carry back to Governor Dinwiddie that sustained the diplomatic affectations: “I have made it a particular duty to receive Mr. Washington with the distinction owing to your dignity, his position, and his own great merit. I trust that he will do me justice in that regard to you, and that he will make known to you the profound respect with which I am, Sir, your most humble and most obedient servant.”

But the person whom Washington quotes more than any other in his Journal represented yet a third imperial power with its own exclusive claim of sovereignty over the Ohio Country. That was the Half-King, the Seneca chief whose Indian name was Tanacharison. In addition to being a local tribal leader, the Half-King had received his quasi-regal English name because he was the diplomatic representative of the Iroquois Confederation, also called the Six Nations, with its headquarters in Onondaga, New York. When they had first met at the Indian village called Logstown, Tanacharison had declared that Washington’s Indian name was Conotocarius, which meant “town taker” or “devourer of villages,” because this was the name originally given to Washington’s great-grandfather, John Washington, nearly a century earlier. The persistence of that memory in Indian oral history was a dramatic reminder of the long-standing domination of the Iroquois Confederation over the region. They had planted no lead plates, knew nothing of some English king’s presumptive claims to own a continent. But they had been ruling over this land for about three hundred years.

In the present circumstance, Tanacharison regarded the French as a greater threat to Indian sovereignty. “If you had come in a peaceable Manner like our Brethren the English,” he told the French commander at Presque Isle, “We shou’d not have been against your trading with us as they do, but to come, Fathers, & build great houses upon our Land, & to take it by Force, is what we cannot submit to.” On the other hand, Tanacharison also made it clear that all Indian alliances with European powers and their colonial kinfolk were temporary expediencies: “Both you & the English are White. We live in a Country between, therefore the Land does not belong either to one or the other; but the GREAT BEING above allow’d it to be a Place of Residence for us.”

Washington dutifully recorded Tanacharison’s words, fully aware that they exposed the competing, indeed contradictory, imperatives that defined his diplomatic mission into the American wilderness. For on the one hand he represented a British ministry and a colonial government that fully intended to occupy the Ohio Country with Anglo-American settlers whose presence was ultimately incompatible with the Indian version of divine providence. But on the other hand, given the sheer size of the Indian population in the region, plus their indisputable mastery of the kind of forest-fighting tactics demanded by wilderness conditions, the balance of power in the looming conflict between France and England for European domination of the American interior belonged to the very people whom Washington’s superiors intended to displace.

For several reasons, this story of young Washington’s first American adventure is a good place to begin our quest for the famously elusive personality of the mature man-who-became-a-monument. First, the story reveals how early his personal life became caught up in larger public causes, in this case nothing less grand than the global struggle between the contending world powers for supremacy over half a continent. Second, it forces us to notice the most obvious chronological fact, namely that Washington was one of the few prominent members of America’s founding generation—Benjamin Franklin was another—who were born early enough to develop their basic convictions about America’s role in the British Empire within the context of the French and Indian War. Third, it offers the first example of the interpretive dilemma posed by a man of action who seems determined to tell us what he did, but equally determined not to tell us what he thought about it. Finally, and most importantly, it establishes a connection between Washington’s character in the most formative stage of its development and the raw, often savage, conditions in that expansive area called the Ohio Country. The interior regions of Washington’s personality began to take shape within the interior regions of the colonial frontier. Neither of these places, it turned out, was as vacant as it first appeared. And both of them put a premium on achieving mastery over elemental forces that often defied the most cherished civilized expectations.

Glimpses

Before 1753 we have only glimpses of Washington as a boy and young man. These sparsely documented early years have subsequently been littered with legends and lore, all designed to align Washington’s childhood with either the dramatic achievements of his later career or the mythological imperatives of America’s preeminent national hero. John Marshall, his first serious biographer, even entitled the chapter on Washington’s arrival in the world “The Birth of Mr. Washington,” suggesting that he was born fully clothed and ready to assume the presidency. The most celebrated story about Washington’s childhood—the Parson Weems tale about chopping down the cherry tree (“Father, I cannot tell a lie”)—is a complete fabrication. The truth is, we know virtually nothing about Washington’s relationship with his father, Augustine Washington, except that it ended early, when Washington was eleven years old. In all his voluminous correspondence, Washington mentioned his father on only three occasions, and then only cryptically. As for his mother, Mary Ball Washington, we know that she was a quite tall and physically strong woman who lived long enough to see him elected president but never extolled or even acknowledged his public triumphs. Their relationship, estranged in those later years, remains a mystery during his childhood and adolescence. Given this frustrating combination of misinformation and ignorance, we can only establish the irrefutable facts about Washington’s earliest years, then sketch as best we can the murkier patterns of influence on his early development.

We know beyond any doubt that George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, near the banks of the Potomac River, on February 22, 1732 (New Style). He was a fourth-generation Virginian. The patriarch of the family, John Washington, had come over from England in 1657 and established the Washingtons as respectable, if not quite prominent, members of Virginia society. The Indians had named him “town taker,” not because of his military prowess, but because he had manipulated the law to swindle them out of their land.

The bloodline that John Washington bequeathed to his descendants exhibited three distinctive tendencies: first, a passion for acreage, the more of it the better; second, tall and physically strong males; and third, despite the physical strength, a male line that died relatively young, all before reaching fifty. A quick scan of the genealogy on both sides of young George’s ancestry suggested another ominous pattern. The founder of the Washington line had three wives, the last of whom had been widowed three times. Washington’s father had lost his first wife in 1729, and Mary Ball Washington, his second wife, was herself an orphan whose own mother had been widowed twice. The Virginian world into which George Washington was born was a decidedly precarious place where neither domestic stability nor life itself could be taken for granted. This harsh reality was driven home in April 1743, when Augustine Washington died, leaving his widow and seven children an estate that included ten thousand acres divided into several disparate parcels and forty-nine slaves.

Washington spent his early adolescence living with his mother at Ferry Farm in a six-room farmhouse across the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg. He received the modern equivalent of a grade-school education, but was never exposed to the classical curriculum or encouraged to attend college at William and Mary, a deficiency that haunted him throughout his subsequent career among American statesmen with more robust educational credentials. Several biographers have called attention to his hand-copied list of 110 precepts from The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation, which was based on rules of etiquette originally composed by Jesuit scholars in 1595. Several of the rules are hilarious (#9, “Spit not into the fire . . . especially if there be meat before it”; #13, “Kill no vermin, or fleas, lice, ticks, etc. in the sight of others”); but the first rule also seems to have had resonance for Washington’s later obsession with deportment: “Every action done in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present.” As a reminder of an earlier era’s conviction that character was not just who you were but also what others thought you were, this is a useful point that foreshadows Washington’s flair for disappearing within his public persona. But the more prosaic truth is that Rules of Civility has attracted so much attention from biographers because it is one of the few documents of Washington’s youth that has survived. It is quite possible that he copied out the list as a mere exercise in penmanship.

The two major influences on Washington’s youthful development were his half brother, Lawrence, fourteen years his senior, and the Fairfax family. Lawrence became a surrogate father, responsible for managing the career options of his young protégé, who as a younger son had little hope of inheriting enough land to permit easy entrance into the planter class of Chesapeake society. In 1746, Lawrence proposed that young George enlist as a midshipman in the British navy. His mother opposed the suggestion, as did his uncle in England, who clinched the negative verdict by observing that the navy would “cut him and staple him and use him like a Negro, or rather, like a dog.”

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His Excellency 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 123 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'His Excellency' is a biography that allows the reader to visualize the life of George Washington as if they were experiencing his life right beside him. There isn't a better time than now to read about how our Presidency was shaped. This should be a recommended read for all who are running as well as the everyday American who wonders about the current political struggles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting insight into the life of one of the most important figures in American history. The book attempts to show you the human side of the myth and monument that is Washington to modern America. He is shown not as the perfect, honest, legend but as the human man trying to make a name for himself in his early adulthood. The mistakes of his life are laid out before you and the lessons he learned from them. How his great judgment lead history to select him for the roles he would play as the Commander in Chief for the Continental Army, Chair of the Constitutional convention, and ultimately First President. Each time he reluctantly at first, then with an enthusiastic sense of fate, returned to public life, all the time yearning to return to his beloved Mount Vernon. The Washington monument does represent a human being and here he is. There is not a lot of military information in the book which I like it is more an insight into the man and his thinking processes as a biography should be. The book is recommended if you have an interest in learning about Washington and the founding of the nation but the language can be a bit tangled and high brow at times. I found myself more than once wishing I had a dictionary handy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recommend Ellis's book, though feel it is important to understand that this is less of an account of Washington's life and more of 1) a rexamination of other biogrophies 2) a correcting of false but popular myths 3) and an effective presentation of Ellis's own interpretation of Washington's Actions and Motives. While I enjoyed this book, and went through it rather quickly, I was disopointed in a few respects. Firstly, although I had read Ellis before (being aware of his essayist style), I was still expecting a fuller presentation of the facts of Washington's life, in the narrative style of David McCullough (An admittedly unfair expectation on my part). This is less of an Authoritative Biography in that, as a previous reviewer has indicated, it leavs out much detail and breezes through the parts of the Founder's life with which Ellis does not choose to make a point. I also was disapointed that Ellis used this biography to make comparisons to future, and even current events--drawing his own political conclusions instead of allowing the reader to make their own conclusions based on the facts in full. There is much to praise in this book, it excells in scholarship and review. It gives insightful interpretation and is well worth reading. But this is not a detailed narrative biography which covers all the events of Washington's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read. Not only is it an in depth picture of our first President, but it is an entertaining read, which can not be said about most historical non-fiction books. I recommend this book to anyone interested in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this last night and am thrilled with it. I have read many biographies on Washington and am in fact a collector of his portraits, etc. This is the best yet! Here is Washington as he was, not, perhaps, how we might wish him to be. (Hear that, the reviewer who criticized Ellis for not showing a more fervently Christian side of Washington.) Through it all, I remain a staunch Washington supporter and in awe of all he was able to accomplish. His ability and willingness (and, more than once, sheer luck) to persevere despite odds stacked high against him is mind-boggling. No, he wasn't a perfect man, but he said what he meant and did what he said. Whether you agree with all his actions or not, his personal integrity is rock solid - a model that will continue to serve for future generations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As much as I admire Mr. Ellis' knowledge and love hearing him speak, his writing style is not the most compelling. That said, this is a very worthwhile book and it is certainly worth anyone's time to learn more about General Washington. Buy it, read it, enjoy it, just don't expect the world.
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author is not afraid to show has George Washington manipulated his story himself, beginning with his encounters with the French at the beginning of his career.
elizabeth_s on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very enjoyable biography. Washington comes across as an ambitious, but not self-serving, man. Not a particularly good general, and sometimes too slow to realize he could no longer trust former friends.Ellis writes in an easygoing style that brings Washington and his world to life.
weakley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Biography of the year for me. Ellis has produced a historical, thoughful, indepth, and yet readable story of one of the truly great men we have been given. While not an American, I am still allowed to have a respectful interest in some of the founders of your state. Washington, Adams, and Jefferson make a powerful triumvirate. These 300 odd pages about Washington left me wanting a little bit more depth about his early years, but that is my sole complaint about the book. This is a suggested read for anyone interested in the tale of a man who strove to live up to his principles.
dvf1976 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent biography of an excellent man.I really admire George Washington's ability to be able to walk away from power as well as his feelings about negotiating with nations (Nations cannot be counted on to act morally. They will only do that if it coincidentally in their best interest)I don't know if Joe Ellis intentionally characterizes Thomas Jefferson as a jerk or whether that's historical fact...
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Joseph Ellis book was simply wonderful. Ellis avoids the sin of trying to tell us everything about Washington, and paints an understandable portrait of this most important founding father.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ellis writes in an easy, flowing style. Almost conversational in tone, Washington's life comes alive as the pages turn. While not a great deal of evidence of Washington's personal life has survived, Ellis does a fantastic job filling in the gaps with Washington's military career and political rise to power. The text is supplemented by a few pages of photographs - mostly portraits Washington had commissioned of himself
charrod on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good read about the first and best American President. And a test for Facebook app......
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Right off the bat, I learned a word new to me: hegemony. That's always a plus. Of course, if I were better read, especially in history, I probably would have learned it years ago, but hey, I'm not above admitting my ignorance.Overall, I enjoyed this biography of the first U. S. president. While there is inevitably quite a bit of history in it, the book is more about the man than about the history he shaped. Occasionally, it seemed a bit dry to me and once in awhile, the sentences seemed unnecessarily convoluted, but maybe that's just me. I especially was interested by Washington's personal and political views towards slavery and displacement of Native Americans and appreciated Mr. Ellis's insight into the subject. I only wish Martha Washington hadn't destroyed the correspondence between George and her because it would have been wonderful to know more about his private life and thoughts.
ZoharLaor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I felt the book is a fair portrayal of Washington as a human and gives the reader a new insight into the person. Mr. Ellis tries to take a man which has become a myth in his own time and deconstruct him to see what makes him tick. What did he find; Washington was a man like any of us, making his decisions based on what's good for his bank account, and putting in strategic moves for the future. We must remember that in that time people put in work to collect decades later, unlike today.This is an overview of Washington's life, the important decisions he made and why did he make them. Mr. Ellis' research is well founded; his speculations and premises make logical sense and put a new light on old tales.Are Mr. Ellis' assumptions correct?Who know, but isn't that half the fun or reading history books, to make your own assumptions, theories and hypothesis and see if the author agrees with you.Don't be afraid to read this book, you will come away with a great appreciation and admiration to Washington because, not despite, he was a human being and not a super-man.
ggarfield on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Outstanding!Joseph Ellis has done a wonderful job giving real life to the man who won American independence in the Revolutionary War and who then went on to invent and sustain America¿s emerging nationhood. George Washington¿s early years on the Virginia frontier, to his role in the French and Indian War are fascinating enough. However, this early part of the book (and his life) serve to illustrate the crucible that these early days were to the creation of his iron will and the leadership qualities that brought him to lead the Continental Army throughout the Revolutionary War. His role as General convinced him of the need for Federal power to raise money for, among other things, an army. The details of the Continental Army¿s condition during the war further illustrate the amazing nature of America¿s defeat of what was then the world¿s preeminent military power. For example, during the winter of 1776-1777, many soldiers went without shoes and fought a well equipped British Army. It is interesting to learn more about the relationship between Washington and his chief aid in the war and as President; Alexander Hamilton. Moreover, Ellis draws some interesting contrasts between Washington and Jefferson (both of whom he has now devoted a book each) and their personal relationship. Washington emerges from this the more influential character.Galvanized by these prior experiences, Washington¿s influence on moving the confederation of states to the Constitutional Convention and ultimately the Constitution itself is crystal clear. No other Founding Father had such a realistic view of how to implement the new American ideals and, indeed, as Henry Lee expressed in Washington¿s eulogy; ¿First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.¿His Excellency does an outstanding job of giving the reader a perspective on Washington, the person and, thus, takes a little bit of the stone like statue away from his persona. Here we also learn of Washington¿s obsession with managing the affairs of Mt Vernon and his considerable real estate empire while also being a General and a President. We get a sense that Washington¿s famous aloofness and ability to remain silent in a storm were as Ellis puts it ¿protective tactics developed to prevent detection of the combustible materials simmering inside.¿This is an outstanding book. I¿d read it again and likely will someday.
mcelhonec on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I learned many things about George Washington and his contmeporaries. Mr. Washington is not deified in this book and the author makes our first President seem human.
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewed Dec. 2005 Wow, what a man! I knew so very little about this man or time, it was overwhelming at every page I would turn to held something new. I purchased and scanned sereval books on the American Revolution which helped clear up many areas for me. My visit to Mt. Vernon this summer really helped for me to visualize this time period. I had never really thought much about America¿s beginnings, never thought about the time before. It seemed like people threw tea into the bay, they fought for awhile and became a Nation. History is so much more than that. Without knowing the results gives way more insight into history. I was also amazed to know how much Caspian knew about this time, and I have so much more to learn. I made many notes and underlined much in this book. I know I will be using this for reference. I need to know read about some of the other players, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams ect.... From the beginning I was puzzled why Martha burned all the letters between her and George. Until the end is she barely mentioned and only then barely. How much more interesting this would have been if her thoughts and ideas could be included. Alas! 21-2005
david7466 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really found this book to more about the war activities of the good general than about the person. Just my opinion.
MichaelDeavers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr. Ellis does an exceptionally good job of introducing George Washington. He connects George Washington¿s formative years then on to his growth as plantation owner in Virginia, through the years as a Commander of the Continental Army, ending with his years a President of the United States.The author portrays Washington as a man with all the human traits that you would expect from any man. With Washington¿s personal papers, Mr. Ellis reveals new and interesting discoveries into Washington¿s life that are supported by referenced documents. In several cases the author makes it clear that the evidence supporting Washington¿s life is vague and the readers need to draw their own conclusions.In my opinion, this book was well written and a worthy biography of Washington. It¿s a bit short on particulars, i.e., the crossing of the Delaware, Valley Forge, etc., but it was still informative and I highly recommend this book to all history buffs.
DavidCrawford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A superb insight into the Father of Our Country.Joseph Ellis wrote an excellent book that will give you a superb insight into the Father of Our Country. There can only be one man to fit those shoes and George Washington is that man. Mr. Ellis enlightens the story of Washington in an engaging, easily understanding way, that non-historians will appreciate. He doesn¿t get bogged down in trivial details, but gives the reader amble details to get a thorough understanding of George Washington.In his book you will learn a great deal about Washington; his greatness and how he had to overcome so many criticisms and failures to become the sole beacon for the fledging United States. Ellis lets you know that Washington was not perfect by any means. In fact he wasn¿t a great general. But, what he did have was persistence, courage and the ability to take advice from his staff of officers and even the French.Highly recommend.
adribabe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an interesting man. At times he is a very frustrating character but at others times you understand why. His stand was always somewhere in the middle even though he kept very strong ideas himself. He was always very careful not to be an extremist on any view or policy. He was the ultimate politician with heart who hated confrontation. Not being able to fully know the man behind the myth is what makes him a legend. This book explains why we are not able to know more about him as well as his strained relationship with Jefferson. The two men could not be more opposite in everything. Fantastic biographical book. Also recommended would be 1776, it goes more in depth as to his decisions or lack thereof on the battlefield during the revolutionary war. I unfortunately read 1776 first and then this one, i would recommend it the other way around.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well-done, short bio of Washington.
CritEER on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
- I was emotionally moved with the chapters regarding GW's retirement from the military and then from the Presidency- With the slew of good books on GW (Adopted Son, Washington's Secret War, GW and Benedict Arnold, and Washington's Crossing) this is a must read to fully gain a understanding of the breath and depth of GW leadership and life experience- All the important figures of the revolutionaly war, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson and Madison, recognized GW was the most critical and oustanding hero in support of our new nation
TZYuhas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ellis composes a very succinct biography of the man and the myth that was and is George Washington. He gently coaxes Geo. Washington from the annals of history to adeptly illustrate a man who was driven by his ambition yet cloaked the said ambition in modesty. Which stemmed from his desire and belief that he would be judged by posterity.