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Publisher's Summary

George Washington's Farewell Address was a prophetic letter from a "parting friend" to his fellow citizens about the forces he feared could destroy our democracy: hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars.

Once celebrated as civic scripture, more widely reprinted than the Declaration of Independence, the Farewell Address is now almost forgotten. Its message remains starkly relevant. In Washington's Farewell, John Avlon offers a stunning portrait of our first president and his battle to save America from self-destruction.

At the end of his second term, Washington surprised Americans by publishing his Farewell message in a newspaper. The President called for unity among "citizens by birth or choice", advocated moderation, defended religious pluralism, proposed a foreign policy of independence (not isolation), and proposed that education is essential to democracy. He established the precedent for the peaceful transfer of power.

Washington's urgent message was adopted by Jefferson after years of opposition and quoted by Lincoln in defense of the Union. Woodrow Wilson invoked it for nation-building; Eisenhower for Cold War; Reagan for religion. Now the Farewell Address may inspire a new generation to re-center our politics and reunite our nation through the lessons rooted in Washington's experience.

As John Avlon describes the perilous state of the new nation that Washington was preparing to leave as its leader, with enduring wisdom, he reveals him to be the indispensable Founding Father.

©2017 John Avlon. All rights reserved. (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Very well written and performed

This is a well written and well read review of Washington's farewell address. As the author points out Washington's farewell address has had an enduring impact on Presidents to this day. The contents of the address are as relevant to the United States today as they were to Washington's contemporaries.

The author provides a thorough and very interesting review of the substance of the address including Washington's intended meaning as well as application through time. He provides just enough facts surrounding the drafting of the address and of the state of the country at that time to ensure that the reader understands the context of the address, without getting lost on tangents. I believe he achieved just the right mix.

Finally, often authors cannot do justice to their own work and would be better served by a professional. This is not one of those cases. The author does an excellent performance; as good as any professional reader.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Reassurance and understanding for these unsettling times.

I recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand the circumstances surrounding our country's creation. You can read the Constitution, but Washington's farewell letter shows the issues he felt were important to the survival of the country. Reaffirms my confidence in our constitution, the procedure for amending it if necessary, and the value of checks and balances. If we participate, we should be fine.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • JP
  • 11-04-17

Simply Excellent

Avlon crafted an enjoyable and informative work - getting to look behind the curtain of the motivations and composition of the famous document was a treat.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thank you, President Washington

First and foremost, John Avlon should be commended for his research into George Washington's Farewell address, because his efforts certainly pay off. Also, Avlon does a terrific job narrating the story of the Farewell address, which continues long after our first President's passing.

Second, upon finishing Avlon's book, words cannot express my appreciation for everything George Washington gave to America. The first President's time in office was rife with policy disagreements, dangerous foreign influence over domestic issues, and bitter partisan in fighting that threatened to tear America apart. Amid all the chaos, Washington stuck to his principles as best he could and never faltered in his dedication to the American experiment. Washington imparted some final words of wisdom before he retiring and they are worth remembering, now more than ever. Beyond highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I learned so much about a great man!

For some reason there is so much about our founding father I did not learn in school. This book is a great way to learn more about the man who stabilized this great nation of ours and how his legacy lives on today.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The perfect book for our current political landscape

Washington's plea for us to remember before we are Northerners or Southerners, urban or rural, Republican or Democrat, we are Americans first is very pertinent to today. The book is well researched and well read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Needed Reminder

What a great reminder of our tremendous past and of our great heritage. Every part of this, historically, spoke to my soul. This is a wonderful review of a mostly forgotten treasure from the sacred history of our nation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fill in the blanks of your knowledge of American history

Important book to bring out some of the politics of the day that challenged GW’s presidency. It wasn’t smooth making the constitution work. Slavery was an issue then and eventually led to the Civil War 65 years later. They couldn’t outlaw it then as Washington wanted because there would not be a Union. The southern states would have bolted before they got started.

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  • Silvia
  • Oakland, CA, USA
  • 05-24-18

Timely talk

John Avlon skillfully interweaves Washington's Farewell Speech into the complicated and tangled history of the Great American Experience of democracy. He allows readers to draw their own conclusions about the current state of our messy political system, remaining a neutral observer. The conclusion alone is worth the time.

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intertwined fact, humanity and historical perspect

heard over many weeks, this book never failed to inform, fascinate and enlighten. the ultimate humanity of Washington is truly brought to light through the full, complete and pertinent telling of this story.