Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2011
From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of George Washington.
In Washington: A Life celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life of Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the listener through his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president.
Despite the reverence his name inspires, Washington remains a lifeless waxwork for many Americans, worthy but dull. A laconic man of granite self-control, he often arouses more respect than affection. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow dashes forever the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man.
A strapping six feet, Washington was a celebrated horseman, elegant dancer, and tireless hunter, with a fiercely guarded emotional life. Chernow brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods. Probing his private life, he explores his fraught relationship with his crusty mother, his youthful infatuation with the married Sally Fairfax, and his often conflicted feelings toward his adopted children and grandchildren. He also provides a lavishly detailed portrait of his marriage to Martha and his complex behavior as a slave master.
At the same time, Washington is an astute and surprising portrait of a canny political genius who knew how to inspire people. Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost figures of the age, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, but he also brilliantly orchestrated their actions to shape the new federal government, define the separation of powers, and establish the office of the presidency.
©2010 Ron Chernow (P)2010 Penguin Audio
"Tenaciously researched...This new portrait offers a fresh sense of what a groundbreaking role Washington played, not only in physically embodying his new nation's leadership but also in interpreting how its newly articulated constitutional principles would be applied...deeply rewarding.” (New York Times)
"Just as he resuscitated Alexander Hamilton in a heralded 2004 biography, Ron Chernow now resurrects Washington...[A] remarkable book." (Entertainment Weekly)
"Whether he's debunking the legend of Washington's wooden teeth (ivory that cracked and discolored over time) or the purely fictional tale of the cherry tree, the massive yet briskly paced Washington: A Life is a rollicking read, sure to redefine perceptions and correct assumptions." (Kirkus Reviews)
By humanizing him, Chernow made me revere him more. Very long and narrator's voice is irritating. I highly recommend it.
What an amazing experience. While I learned so much about Washington, this story provides invaluable knowledge of the roots of many of the customs, traditions and conflicts surviving until today.
This work provided insight into events and factors that shaped George Washington. Washington's life is a complex mix of good and bad. The extensive use of Washington's letters provides a echo of the past that I appreciated as a student of History.
Making my way through all the US President a biography at a time.
I'm working my way through Presidential biographies and this is by far the best. Surpassing Lincoln's!
Team of Rivals
The complex relationship with his mother provoked a great contrast of duty to her instead any maternal body of love.
No, this is a book that'll you'll commit to and enjoy. It took me 3 weeks.
The Best Washington Biography and perhaps the best presidential biography but we shall see.
Addicted to reading traditional books. Overwhelmed by backlog of books to read. If it's early Americana then I want it.
This book is among the best.
I appreciated the details in which this book captured Washington. The author also included the statements of other key players. We look at Washington as a stoic hero, but not everyone felt that way. Some were quite verbal about their dislike, while others hid their opinions. You walk away with a true understanding of an imperfect man who did the best he could, in that, he was heads and tails above most others of the time, and for ages to come.
This ranks at the top of the list for biographies of historical figures. It was informative without being stuffy. I felt like I understood Washington better after listening to it. Highly recommend.
His performance was spot on. Animated without being overbearing.
The man behind the teeth.
No - I think this book relates to a small audience
Learning about the politics of the time, we tend to not think about this.
I enjoyed the book, mostly because it was written with the facts of what was going on at the time. Learning about the political struggles, his family and loves was interesting.
Comprehensive, in-depth, revealing
No, it was quite lengthly, and took time to really digest.
Measured and thoughtful without drawing conclusions or making moral judgements. He did a fantastic job of bringing out Washington's true greatness of character, without ignoring the weaknesses, such as his acceptance of slavery while publicly seeming to condemn it. True, not revisionist, history!
This is an extremely well researched and meticulously documented biography.
It delves into the inner psychology quite well also.
However, it could have used a bit more editing for streamlining purposes. Many subjects are touched on repeatedly, especially slavery. So much so that by the end you're wishing the book would just finish. That being said, it was still very interesting at times with the Federalist / Republican split and the progress of the war.
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