By far the most important figure in the history of the United States, George Washington liberated the 13 colonies from the superior forces of the British Empire against all military odds, and presided over the production and ratification of a constitution that (suitably amended) has lasted for more than 200 years. Yet today, Washington remains a distant figure to many Americans, a failing that acclaimed author Paul Johnson sets out to rectify with this brilliantly vivid, sharply etched portrait of the great hero as a young warrior, masterful commander in chief, patient lawmaker, and exceptionally wise president.
©2005 Paul Johnson (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
"Johnson captures the key images of Washington's life and work in this sharply focused snapshot." (Publishers Weekly)
"Johnson, a noted British historian, submits a beautifully cogent, enthrallingly perceptive, and, given the vast accumulation of published material on his subject, startlingly fresh take on the ultimate American icon, our first president.... The question so trenchantly answered here is, What was it about Washington that made the man such a commanding figure? A breathtaking treatment in its clarity and sheerness." (Booklist)
This felt less like a biography than an ideological deployment of George Washington for Conservative ends. Consider for instance the author's effort to minimize Washington's Deism in order to communicate the message that Washington believed in Christianity's civilizing influence; he harps on the Christian outlook of American founding fathers (notwithstanding the fact that their Deism involved a lack of belief in Christianity). He also makes distorted statements about slavery in North America. At one point the author favorably contrasts the survival rate of slaves in North America to the Caribbean (without mentioning statistics on British Caribbean islands) to conclude that the British style of slavery was far more humane to the Dutch. In the spirit of balance, I should acknowledge that I learned from the author's presentation of the Indian question.
George Washington sets the standard for American greatness and Paul Johnson does a tremendous job expressing this idea while compacting Washington's biography without compromising on quality from cover to cover. Strongly recommended read!
I loved learning about the father of our country and, as always, Paul Johnson makes history entertaining and approachable. When you finish this book you'll appreciate what a great man Washington was and how fortunate America was to have his leadership. For the amateur historian there was just enough detail to understand his life and times.
I found the narrator a bit irritating to listen to. He seemed to read every single sentence the exact same way.
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