Washington

Washington

A Life

Book - 2010
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times Bestseller, 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 reader 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.

In this unique biography, Ron Chernow takes us on a page-turning journey through all the formative events of America's founding. With a dramatic sweep worthy of its giant subject, Washington is a magisterial work from one of our most elegant storytellers.

Ron Chernow's new biography, Grant , will be published by Penguin Press in October 2017.


Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, [2010]
ISBN: 9781594202667
Branch Call Number: 973.4 WAS
Characteristics: xxi, 904 pages, 16 pages of plates : illustrations 25 cm

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Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.


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Cynthia_N Apr 15, 2017

Good book! I took my time and let myself enjoy all 800+ pages!

JCLMartyJ Dec 08, 2016

Well researched and well written. At times I had to work a little to get through the 817 pages of the book and the 33 discs in the CD audio set, but it was well worth it. Chernow brings George Washington and the period of history in which he lived to life. The author points out that because Washington was so good about keeping a diary and other records and because his life has been so well research and documented, we now more about him this did his contemporaries. I came away with a heightened appreciation of George Washington - it was his unique character and leadership that allowed the colonies to perservere and win the Revolutionary War and then to come together as united states. He played a vital role in establishing the foundation of the democracy that we enjoy today.

s
SmartyJo
Dec 08, 2016

Well researched and well written. At times I had to work a little to get through the 817 pages of the book and the 33 discs in the CD audio set, but it was well worth it. Chernow brings George Washington and the period of history in which he lived to life. The author points out that because Washington was so good about keeping a diary and other records and because his life has been so well research and documented, we now more about him this did his contemporaries. I came away with a heightened appreciation of George Washington - it was his unique character and leadership that allowed the colonies to perservere and win the Revolutionary War and then to come together as united states. He played a vital role in establishing the foundation of the democracy that we enjoy today.

c
cmfinley
Jun 01, 2016

If you want to learn about George Washington, this is the book to read. If you want to learn about the American Revolution, this is also a great book centered around Washington's life and achievements. It did more than inform - it dispelled a great many myths that I had internalized throughout my education. Washington? Not that great of a general. He made a lot of mistakes. He was complicated; he believed in freedom and yet didn't free his slaves before or after his death. This book, above all else, humanizes the man. It removes the god-like status he's given in the American collective memory and returns him to what he was -- just a man who made mistakes and did some incredible things during his lifetime.

c
charab
Dec 11, 2015

It has 800 pages and looked a bit daunting. But I started, and eventually fell in love with George Washington. I own the book and go back to it sometimes. I wish everybody would read it.

r
Rainman
Nov 03, 2015

This book leads to a greater understanding of the sacrifices George Washington made for this country, while his health and finances suffered. Yet his human faults are highlighted, too -- his inability to step out of the spotlight or to reduce unnecessary spending, and the blemish of slavery on his record until the very end--in fact, beyond the very end.

p
pokano
Apr 21, 2013

Chernow's LONG book attempts--mostly successfully--to put flesh and blood on the guy on the dollar bill. The reader learns that Washington was a very fastidious man, but enjoyed such things as dancing, flirting with attractive women,and living beyond his means. He was courageous but could not come to grips with slavery until shortly before his death. The book destroys the illusion that the founding fathers were in agreement as to what the new nation should look like and how it should operate. Washington and Jefferson were bitterly opposed to one another. The reader also wonders how it is possible that American forces were able to win the Revolutionary War, being grossly underclothed and underfed. All in all a very worthwhile and informative book,which could have benefited by more judicious editing to cut the length.

b
bigreader69
Jan 04, 2013

Title for February 2013.

e
ELIZABETHCAMPBELL
Sep 06, 2012

I commented on this under the general library comments

b
Bill_R
Jun 28, 2011

Did a great job of covering a long and complex life. Definitely adds dimensions to the usual cardboard cutout.

While it does try to get into people's heads it seems to me it does so with careful research into what people wrote for publication and in letters to many audiences public and private, including reports of who-said-what-to-whom. Nothing can be as simple as "just the facts" with real history because its all about imperfect human beings operating on imperfect information.. In order to learn from the times it is necessary to dig deeper.

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