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)
The narration really detracts from the story. It is read with a theatrical/grandiose voice that is entirely too much. It's kind of annoying. You do have a chance to get used to it, since it is 50-some hours long. I like the long, long books since I'm in the car soooooo much.
I have to say, at this point (I think I'm on chapter 47), I'm looking forward to it being over, which wasn't the case when I listened to Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, also an important historical book.
I might look elsewhere if I were you.
Refreshing in-depth biography of our first president.
How long and difficult the revolutionary war was and how long it took to communicate and the lack of monetary support from the states/colonies.
As I recall, he was primarily a narrator rather than an actor. He was a great reader, as always!
This is a really really really long book, more of a day-by-day account than an interesting story. I would probably edit it to about half of the length and develop the story.
Its a biography, so the ending was fairly easy to anticipate.
Listen to it at 1.5 speed.
This book ranks up in my top 5. I really enjoyed his life adventures and the honesty about his life.
I'm a country potter, gardener, flute player and tin tinker living with my husband, an electrical engineer & cabinet maker.
I have to admit that I listened to the first 3 parts non stop. Interesting to hear a take on history and always good to remember that it was the needs of the wealthy landowners that brought the country into being - not the needs of the real workers. Still, after being distracted by work I've not gone back to finish the book.
Had no idea that George Washington's mother was such a nasty bit of work.
Didn't know that George Washington was so tall and forgot that many of the original framers of the US government lost their personal fortunes in the work they did due to the customs of the times and the state governments unwillingness to meet financial obligations.
The book is well written and worth the time.
I knew as much about George Washington as the average person, so hoped this book would fill in my knowledge gaps, and did it ever. By the time I got to the end (40 hours later) I was sad when George died even though it was 200 years ago! This book gave me a lot to think about, from the issue of slavery (how different would our world have been) to the choices that George Washington made ( stepping down from power in a precedent setting way). It's a big book but by the time I got to the end I wasn't quite ready for the story to close.
What a fascinating story to listen to. I felt like I got an inside look at the life of our countries greatest citizen. Not perfect (surprise!) but nevertheless a man who prepared himself for greatness and was willing and able when the opportunities arose. The book gives so much detail that you feel like you are getting into Washington's head as he makes his famous decisions that contributed to the establishment of our great country.
Learning details about Washington was amazing but I was impressed by the impact that Alexander Hamilton had on him and surprised at the animosity and political differences with Thomas Jefferson.
I think the tone he used added to the interest of the story. I don't think I would have had as much interest over the long haul if he did not do such a good job.
Impossible, unless you don't sleep. It is a great listen but the historical aspects of it take a little time to absorb and some of the detail is not "page turner" type material but still intersting and valuable to the context of the story.
I already have, fact checking, looking at maps, and pictures of the significant players. I drive for a living, and seeing the terrain first hand, and with the wonderful spoken word to guide me, the story of Washington becomes not only a lesson in history, but a living guide to find more.
His constant need to show a better man. Not letting anger show but in rare instances, makes them all the more dramatic. I also liked that no matter the bad actions against this man, by holding his tongue in check, he always prevailed.
Mr. Bricks preformance is inspiring. Clear and concise, He lets the reader draw his own conclusions without adding any emphasis of his own, even when the author already has.
Of course! With the events, the persons involved and the founding of a country, you run the gambit of emotions. Added is the issues with slavery, and Washington's inability to deal with it.
What a story about a great man. The book did a great job of making you feel that you were there during the pivotal moments that made this great nation what it is today. I did not know many of the things about Washington this book revealed. I highly recommend.
Retired Clergy. PhD in Comparative Religion. Enjoying retirement of golf, motorcycling, model railroading, gardening, and reading.
While a rather long and tedious work, this book reveals the man George Washington to be more and less than legend has presented him. Chernow has studied hard to present a most interesting narrative of just who the father of this country was. Credit is due to Scott Brick for his excellent narration—straight forward and comfortable. Much of the work that unfolds has the nature of a novel. After the experience of Washington: A Life, I have a clearer and more appreciative concept of the American Revolution and the formation of the American experiment in democracy. If one has the perseverance to stay with it, this book is well worth the effort. As a lover of history, I found this book easy to love.
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