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)
As deeply as this book delves into the history of the colonies during Washington's era, I found the book's true strength in it's incredible insights into Washington's thoughts and emotions. The book can certainly hold it's own as a detailed historical account, but I was more impacted by the personal aspects of the narrative. Listening to this book was quite an undertaking, but by the end I felt as though I had seen into Washington's soul and that I had lost someone who could have been a friend.
What a fascinating account of the life of a great, albeit flawed, man. I suspect that Mr. Chernow went into this project with a positive opinion of Washington, and I had to remind myself to remember that, despite my admiration for Washington, I should keep things in perspective and remember that this only presents one side. It was fascinating to "read" about the deceit and dishonesty that Washington faced. For better or worse it reminds me of the same deceit and dishonesty that people like these generals now heap on our presidents of today. Scott Brick made me interested in a book I otherwise would likely not have listened to. A wonderful performance. All of us, in the interest of understanding the roots of our nation, should listen to this riveting account.
I'm going to write this review for all of Scott Brick's books. It honestly doesn't matter how good the book is (in this case, Chernow is, as usual, excellent: he has the telling detail, writes with sweep and verve, excellent anecdotes) -- whatever quality the book may have is destroyed, utterly, by the incompetent narration rendered by someone who must have learned to read late in life. Scott Brick cannot grasp the rhythm of English prose; he seems to think that modifiers are extra important, because he gives each one EXTRA EMPHASIS. The result is this balky, juddering ride over bumpy terrain in an unsprung stagecoach. Let me sum up: Scott Brick is TERRIBLE. The fact that I have several Brick-wrecked titles in my library is a testament to how hope springs eternal in the human breast. He can't be really THAT bad, I tell myself, only to discover, $40 later, that he, in fact, is. Never again, I'd like to think. But, if I do, I'll have my punishment.
The detailed information about his life that I never knew before.
I've listen to this book twice and may listen a third time. You learn something different about the great Washington each time. His reluctance to be President and to have a second term was compelling. We should have more people in government today.
I wish the author would do a book on every president..
I read mostly nonfiction, history and current events. This is by far the best biography I've ever read. It brings Washington to life, warts and all. He was the greatest American to ever live, if not the greatest man in history. He had flaws, as we all do. In his youth he made some really bad decisions and blunders, e.g., the debacle at Ft. Necessity where he chose a terrible place to make a stand against the French and Indians. His loss of control of his troops may have led to a massacre of French troops that started the French and Indian War, then after being overrun at Ft. Necessity he signed surrender papers that admitted he committed war crimes. All that said, he learned from his mistakes, was charismatic, and when he had the chance to be the "man on horseback" and be a Caesar, he said no. I've always admired him, and after listening to this book (the narration is great too) I love him.
I liked the little anecdotes that Chernow added to show Washington's true nature. I enjoyed that he wrote about the farmer and the slaveholder as well as the general and statesman
I was very amused how Washington would dote on the young ladies every time he went to a social gathering and how he preferred his wife's tea with the ladies over his weekly levees
a Tech Exec who loves the stories about what could be and what should have been. Mixed with histories told from an outside perspective.
I listened to this text over the course of several months, listening to a download(about 8hours) at a time. Overall it is very detailed, well documented, and not as opinion laden as I have found many other recent historical texts. The author uses the works of those who were there as much as possible and presents the human, not just the historical saint we have all come to know through lore. Ron presents this human side in such a way that you come to appreciate exactly what he dealt with daily to bring the USA as country into reality.
There are times when I can not read the book ... but can listen.
His struggle with slavery ... between his use of slaves and the right of people to be free.
The struggle between his department heads regarding states right and federal control.
With my Kindle Fire HD, the reading curser did not follow the printed text exactly (many words ahead of the printed text). It is possible I did not have my Kindle set up correctly.
Download this long book, it is well worth the listen. It will entice you to get other books like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson. I found myself searching for pictures and more information about all of Washington's friends, and loyal servants.
What a fascinating listen (and read.) The subject had much more depth than I gained in history and more complex. Scott Brink's narration was amazing, filling the mind with visual images of the man, his times and the events surrounding his elevation to presidential status. His weaknesses and vanities do not go unmentioned but are included in development of the charactor. I learned much about early politics which do not differ all that much even 200+ years later. It is a long listen but the subject lived long and had many facets reflecting events in his lifetime. Occasionally you get the deja-vu feeling of having heard this before but many events with different casts were in play in the same time periods. This is a keeper.
The main charactor around which everyone else flows is Washington. His relations with the other founding fathers and subsequent reliance during his 2nd term on a "B" team during which the others manouvered around him left me searching for more volumes on our young nation.
This is my first narration by Scott Brick and his presence of future recordings will be a real plus!
Man, Yes. God, no. How early politics and egos do not differ much from present - the difference is in the personality of the players.
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