George Washington has gotten a bad rap from history, and this book seeks to set the story straight. His life is fascinating and complex. He lived in the much-vaunted "interesting times" and he managed to shape both his own destiny and the destiny of the nation. He is not fully a hero in this book, however. How he chose to "solve" the moral quandary of his own slave-owning, while perhaps advanced for his time, does not put him in history's best light now. All in all, this is a good book, very well read, and worth the time it takes to listen to it. It will give you a new perspective on present-day political partisan battles.
The book is very informative about the history and backgroud of our one of our founding fathers. I little dry and long winded but still interesting. I do not care the the hunger pains that occur at 2 hours and up to 2 hours 20 minutes into the recording.
In listening to this book, I had to overcome annoyance with the reader, whose audible intakes of breath and different phrasing detracted from the "listen". Despite that, the book is very good and a useful listen.
I could not finish the book, it annoyed me so.
The author kept launching into critiques on his subject, his motives, the morality behind his motives, his judgement, his likes, dislikes, etc.
There should be a law against such presumption by historians towards their subjects. Not just because it's unfair, or that it's drearily boring, but because it insults the reader.
Lesson for aspiring historians: set the narrative based on facts, events,and chronology. Describe the places and things. Avoid speculation about motives, causes, effects. That's the reader's job.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
"...his trademark decision to surrender power as commander in chief and then president, was not...a sign that he had conquered his ambitions, but rather that he fully realized that all ambitions were inherently insatiable and unconquerable. He knew himself well enough to resist the illusion that he transcended human nature. Unlike Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell before him, and Napoleon, Lenin, and Mao after him, he understood that the greater glory resided in posterity's judgment. If you aspire to live forever in the memory of future generations, you must demonstrate the ultimate self-confidence to leave the final judgment to them. And he did.”
― Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington
A good Ellis. Probably 3.5 stars. Like with 'American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson' Ellis knows his subject has been written about before and probably better. He isn't looking to redo or modernize the biography of George Washington. He only wants to do a couple things. He wants to narrowly explore the character of George Washington AND write a slick and easily digestible biography that will sell well. I know this sounds a bit harsh, but Ellis, while an academic historian, aims both bigger and smaller. He wants to be read. He wants to be bought. So, his biographies and histories tend to be smaller, easier to digest, and built to be sold on the Costco book tables. That isn't a bad thing.
Joseph Ellis is in the same line as that great pantheon of Founding biographers: Walter Isaacson, Jon Meacham, David McCullough, Edmund Morris, Ron Chernow and Doris Kearns Goodwin. He seems to be center mass of this group. Not as solid as Chernow or Morris, not as slick as Meacham or Isaacson.
Anyway, my only real complaint about this biography is stylistic. I hated, HATED, his periodic asides (he called them Sittings). I almost dropped a star just because of those. Ugh. It reminded me of the trend with weeklies or newspapers of blocking a quote from the text (callouts?). But this was worse. It was done like a third person observation of George Washington. They were uneven and just kinda stupid and weak. They weren't necessary, were distracting, and diminished the text.
no so much on the narration. Too much lip smacking and the like found it to be distracting.
This is an interesting look at the life of G. Washington. Unfortunately you'll have a hard time listening to it unless your device has the capability to speed up the narration to 2X. At that speed it actually works. Believe the reviews that say the narration is painfully slow.
I am a fan of great history and am very glad I found this book. While the subject may not have been covered with the depth I would most prefer, this is the best and most balanced book on Washington I have read. If you are not familiar with the real story of Washington (and who is?), I strongly recommend this book.
While I can't speak for Ellis' past, I can say that this book was a good look at the life of our 1st President. The book could best be described as an analysis of Washington's life rather than an in depth biographical profile. The book glosses over many of the details that one would expect in a comlete biography. However, Ellis readily presents interesting analysis throughout the work on the underlying motivations of Washington. This analysis admittedly lends an opinionated slant to Washington's life, but the arguments are weighty and well supported. This is my first look at Ellis, but I will purchase more of his books.
Since discovery of audio books, I have found that I truly enjoy reading and listening at the same time---get more out of it. However, the reader of this title is much too slow; he sighs, and gurgles, belches, and reads it as though it is a play. Finally turned off the sound and just read the book; which was certainly adequate.