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Washington: A Life Audiobook
Washington: A Life
Written by: 
Ron Chernow
Narrated by: 
Scott Brick
Washington: A Life Audiobook

Washington: A Life

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jeff Richmond, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 12-27-11
    Jeff Richmond, Virgin Islands (U.S.) 12-27-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well worth your time"

    Super good book. Well worth your time even if it is more then 40 hours. 40 well spent hours.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clifford Hillsboro, OR, United States 10-05-11
    Clifford Hillsboro, OR, United States 10-05-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    I have listened to this story twice and will probably listen to it again. In my opinion every student should have to hear about how this country was founded and the tremendous sacrifices given for us. George Washington was in my opinion truly the father of this country he was not alone that's for sure but he was the key to establishing our government.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 02-04-11
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 02-04-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book, great character"

    I enjoyed the character of Alexander Hamilton better in a previous book by Chernow but this book on Washington was a better and more interesting read/listen.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sher from Provo Utah 09-16-13
    Sher from Provo Utah 09-16-13 Member Since 2015

    Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.

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    "A Great Man and a Good Book"

    I loved learning more about the life of George Washington. There are so many books on his life out there to choose from and I'm not sure why I chose this one, but it was a good book. It did not sugar coat Washington's life, but did show so many of Washington's qualities that make us think of him as a national hero. I am glad I listened to it. I learned a lot, such as the fact that when he was gravely ill, the doctors drained 5 pints of blood from him because they believed an illness was the result of bad blood. He died, needless to say. I also learned that in spite of never having children of their own, he and Martha raised quite a few children, including two of Martha's children from a previous marriage (the two oldest had passed away), and later her son's children, Eleanor and Washy. (Yes his name was George Washington Custis, and they called him Washy.) I learned that he was never very close to his mother who never seemed to be proud of her son's accomplishments. I learned a lot about his prowess as a general in an unwin-able war, which he managed to win anyway. I learned that he never really wanted to be president of the United States, and never intended to serve a second term, and that he was a very good dancer. And I unlearned a lot, such as the fact that he never cut down a cherry tree, and never said "I cannot tell a lie," although he was a very honest person, and he never had wooden teeth. I learned and unlearned a lot more than this, of course, and I'm glad I got to know this great man a little better. I do honor him and all he did for our country.

    Scott Brick is a good narrator, and is in fact many people's favorite. Although I like him, he is not my favorite. I would not listen to a book just because he is narrating it and would certainly not like to listen to him read the phone book. (I would not mind listening to some of my favorite narrators read the phone book - that is my litmus test of a great narrator.) But he does a good job with this rather lengthy book.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicholas Oak Grove, KY, United States 03-24-12
    Nicholas Oak Grove, KY, United States 03-24-12 Member Since 2015

    Travel a lot for work and spend a good deal of time in the car.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A must read for any history buff"

    This was amazing. I learned a whole lot about GW i never knew. There was a whole lot of politicing back then i had no clue.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Love CLEARFIELD, UT, United States 10-17-12
    Jonathan Love CLEARFIELD, UT, United States 10-17-12 Member Since 2016

    My two favorite topics are Baseball and Military History. But my favorite books of all time are Starship Troopers and Ready Player One.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All inclusive of "A Life" that all should study"

    I'm always surprised to learn as much as I do when listening to non-fiction and thus, the impetus for my choosing the book. However, I was surprised at how much I didn't know and how much was false teeth about the man that we were all inundated with during our public education.

    This book was quite long, 41 hours, but entirely worth it. My commute is only 25 minutes each way so it took me awhile to get through the book. But, there was never a time I thought, "this is too long and/or uninteresting." From the beginning through his death, Ron Chernow describes Washington's character, personality, mannerisms, thought process, bias, passion and personal philosophy as he evolved from European aristocracy to Southern Planter to Revolutionary to his arriviste with the continental congress and culminating with his inimitable leadership as the first president. However, through it all, what surprised me most, was Washington's Federalist leaning.

    I think the logical follow up to this book is Chernow's biography on Alexander Hamilton as no other person plays a more important role in Washington's politicking than Hamilton. We as American's celebrate Jefferson, unabashedly, as the preeminent founding father (not including Washington) but fail to realize that Washington disagreed with much of Jefferson and his followers' views for the country, preferring Hamilton and the Federalists.

    Be prepared with a dictionary in hand as the first hand accounts (journals and letters) used a far more sophisticated vocabulary than we use today. My favorite word, and apparently Washington's as well; Licentious.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy 09-14-11
    Jeremy 09-14-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Chernow does it again. A masterful retelling."

    Simply masterful. Beginning to end. You know the man, his character, his strengths and flaws, and the personal drive and fortunate accidents that led him to become the first leader of our great country.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JOHN 01-27-11
    JOHN 01-27-11
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    "Fantastic book that everyone should read"

    Highly recommend this book. It was an excellent and in depth story of Washington's life. Everyone should read it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edwin Mashpee, MA, United States 11-09-10
    Edwin Mashpee, MA, United States 11-09-10
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    "Valuable retrospective"

    This is an insight into Washington that I have never read; and I read allot of American History. The drama of the Revolution and its battles would be adequate interest and entertainment but the various profiles as land and slave owner, genreal, president with his personal ltravails is handled with deference to the non-historian. The narration is excellent. I only gave it four stars because ther are some transsitions that surprised me in thier abriptness.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.B. Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 01-10-16
    J.B. Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 01-10-16 Member Since 2009

    Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Listen Worth the Undertaking"

    Washington: A Life, By Ron Chernow. This is a complete, and I do mean comprehensive retelling of George Washington’s life. No iota of detail is ignored. Yet, while wide-ranging minutia does not necessarily mean a great biography, this prodigious work is enlightening and a magnificent read or listen. This story was brilliantly told, read and kept one’s interest for the astounding length of 41+ hours.

    We have here a key to understanding Washington the man: his frailties and perfections, and how they made him the right man for the thirteen colonies, the presidency and perhaps the singular reason the United States was able to continue notwithstanding its embryonic troubles.

    The book takes us through Washington’s youth, his days in the wilderness, his adoration of women, his desire for acceptance into the gentry, his ability (or inability) as a general, his mystic status with the colonists, his all-important presence as our first president, his disputes with Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, and his friendship and the importance of Hamilton. No matter what Washington’s personal needs were he always considered the need of the nation first.

    Surprisingly, he was not such a successful General and if it were not for the French, managing on his behalf we may not have prevailed in the Revolutionary War. Further, although he knew the atrocity of slavery, he never had the courage to undo it but always let that tragedy lay for some later resolution. He was insightful as a businessman/farmer but because of his outsized dedication to our Union first, he was a failure in his management of Mount Vernon. We also see him as a fierce tyrant as an officer. Was that a virtue or a failing?

    Most interesting we learn he had little compassion for individuals but broad humanitarianism for the whole. He was limited with an understanding of democracy but knew to rely on Jefferson for theory and Hamilton for implementation. This is a read worth the undertaking.

    Most of all, and notwithstanding his deficiencies, we are who we are today because of his strengths.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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