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George Washington

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Member Reviews

This is a super fun read. I really enjoyed this one!

Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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Often overshadowed by his showier contemporaries  Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, this political biography of George Washington, master of statecraft, arrived at a time of extraordinary testing of the Republic he helped bring into being. Washington’s life is too often rendered in hagiographic terms, which began during. his life post the American Revolution and reached a fever pitch as the young nation mourned its “father.” Today we search for Washington beyond the mythologies of fabulists like Parson Weems and countless careless biographers past and present. Stewart asserts the part Washington himself played in creating his persona, and how he skillfully curated his image. Who knew, for example, that Washington was considered a striking figure - tall, noble in appearance, with a fondness for fine clothes - and that Martha was petite, ordinary: Stewart archly reports that of the two, George was the “peacock.” We meet Washington the family man, with a difficult mother and endless, worrying  responsibilities; many friends, siblings, and stepchildren whose early deaths caused him much pain. Stewart pulls off what is most difficult in rendering a life as complex and influential as his: by the end of this long, carefully researched biography, we feel as if we see him whole. For one, Washington is rescued from a reputation for dutiful dullness: his virtue was real enough, but the evolution of his character is thoughtfully examined  throughout the stages of his public and private life. While much attention is properly paid to his role as a Commander in chief of the Continental Army, and, of course, to the grim drama of Valley Forge, it is his role as an architect and protector of the nascent Republic that emerges most powerfully from the narrative. Finally, a frank assessment of Washington and slavery is very well done, and his actions late in life to reckon with his slaveholding and that of his wife’s should inform those who assume he followed Jefferson’s example, of agonizing over the sin of slavery but finding only excuses for not freeing them. Stewart has a very disciplined style that still manages wit and grace. Highly recommended for both the casual reader and the specialist.  I received a digital prepublication copy from Net Galley.
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David Stewart's biography of George Washington tells the story of a man who was an enigma to me. This is the first full length biography that I read of Washington and I enjoyed learning more about him as a person. Washington was a reader and a gambler, he was very organized, and had a bad temper (which is a trait I did not associate with him). The thesis of this book is that Washington was more of an ambitious political animal than we are generally led to believe. During the French and Indian War he pushed to be a Lieutenant Colonel even when he was not qualified for the role. He had a larger role in shaping how the U.S. Constitution was drafted, especially the office of the Presidency, so much so that some called it George Washington's Constitution. He was also a dealmaker which is shown most notably in the Assumption/Capitol location debate. The book closes with his death and how he handles his slaves in his will. Overall, the book is well written and researched.
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George Washington: Becoming a Leader

We think of Washington as a severe figure with white hair at the height of his powers, but he didn’t start that way. He was an often rash young man with a fiery temper. These traits almost brought his military career to an end before it began. Indeed, the book opens with an ill and dispirited Washington leaving his forces during the Indian fighting on Virginia’s Western frontier without the permission of his commander. 

From this low point Washington rose through positions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and as a justice of the Fairfax County Court. Here he learned to control his temper, act as a calming influence, build bridges, and become a significant leader. The remainder of the book details Washington’s rise to become the most beloved leader in colonial America.

If you enjoy history, particularly American history, this is a wonderful book. I have read a number of excellent biographies of Washington, but this one adds an additional dimension with it’s focus on Washington becoming both a great military as well as an outstanding political leader. 

The book is easy to read, almost like a novel, but filled with facts and acute observations about Washington and his time. I particularly enjoyed the way the author made colonial America come to life. 
I highly recommend this book. In this troubling time, it’s one of the best choices this year. 

I received this book from Dutton for this review.
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Historian and novelist Stewart has crafted a readable one-volume biography of the first president of the United States, with an emphasis on Washington's development as a master of politics. From his beginnings as a fiery, even intemperate, young military officer to his acclaim as the most trusted among the nation's founders, the story of George Washington unfolds in thoroughly documented, clearly written prose as accessible to general readers as to specialists in the period. Thanks to the publisher for supplying an advance reading copy via NetGalley.
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This book was so well-written. I've read a few biographies on George Washington and this one is one of the best. It was very well researched but is was also written in an insightful and engaging way. This biography reads like a fiction book.
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This was a great read. Washington is universally known and only superficially understood by most of us, who learn only the hagiography/propaganda that has grown up around him.  Consequently, many of the more interesting details of his life have faded into the background.  

Stewart's approach is to examine Washington by tracing the events in his life through which he became a master politician, and he shows the effects Washington's mastery had on the course of events in American history. This thesis itself may come as a surprise to many who don't think of Washington as a politician, let alone a master of the political arts, but Stewart makes a very persuasive case for his thesis, and adds a very interesting dimension to our knowledge of Washington.

The book is well written and engaging throughout and I think it will be of interest to anyone looking to understand Washington better. I reviewed an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher (Penguin Group) for making it available.
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I have read much about the life and times around our founding father, George Washington.  David O. Stewart has added to the Canon of Washington scholarship with his new book entitled, surprisingly, "George Washington.". The subtitle summarizes the focus of Stewart's narrative: " The Political Rise of America's Founding Father. ". Did I learn more about Washington to add to my personal storehouse of information.  Yes. Was the book written clearly so that a layman of modest intelligence could follow along? Also yes. Did the book meet my expectations.  Again a hearty " yes. " All in all Stewart does a great job writing about a real man who was uniquely qualified to lead the greatest country (actually a "pre-country) to ever emerge on this earth.
As always, thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy of " George Washington. "
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I knew he fought for the United States and he never wanted to be a king, but there was a lot I didn't know about him until I read this book. I learned he had a lot of siblings (Did you know that), I learn he was always looking to better himself and I also learned he loved his wife and took care of her children from her first marriage.  I also learned that he was influential on how our government was going to be organized and also where Washington D.C. was going to be. Just Wow. There is so much more that was very informational and entertaining in this book that anyone who wants to learn where the United States started from should read it.    This biography is one of the best I have ever read and it's not stiff like an encyclopedia but flows like a novel, so its very easy to read.  

I want to thank PENGUIN GROUP Dutton and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. I learned so much about a person that did so much for this country.
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This book was insightful and engaging. It was thorough without being dry and it held my interest. It presents different aspects of someone who seems larger than life and humanizes him in a way that makes him more accessible.
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Since this month is President's Day (and George's birthday obviously) now is the perfect time to jump into a biography about our first president! The author takes the reader through Washington's family, childhood, and rise to fame through his work in the military and then as the general during the Revolutionary War and then as the Commander in Chief after. The author looks at outside factors to Washington's success and the people he encountered along the way. For anyone wanting to know more about Washington, this is a good place to start. Those who have read a lot about him might not find any new surprises, but it is a well written read.
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George Washington by David O. Stewart is a new and interesting look at George's life as I've never read before.  This was full of facts from George's young life, personal life, military life and so much more.  It was interesting to see George's relationship with his family members and deep yet formal relationship with his mother.  I tend to always think of Washington as the elder statesman and President so it was a joy to read about him as a young man and how he too struggled with his management.  

What a life he led before the Revolution!  It was nice to know he was close to his siblings (some blood relatives and some not) and to see he had a courting life before Martha.  Did the father of the woman he wanted to marry kick himself after Washington's rise to fame?

This book made me wish for time travel so I could go back and meet this young industrious man.  This was a great read that made this man on a pillar become so much more human.

I thank Penguin Group Dutton Publisher and NetGalley for the digital copy and the opportunity to read this extremely interesting book.  Opinions here are all my own.
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Such an awesome look into the life of George Washington. It is a very thick book and I would recommend reading this in physical copy as opposed to e-book if physical books are your preferred medium. This book really looks into every mood made by the first president of the United States and provides analysis of why he was successful.
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It's easy for a biography of George Washington to become littered with tropes and facts the reader has encountered a hundred times before, but David O. Stewart brings a fresh, rich insight to even familiar material.
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Award-winning historian David O. Stewart's "George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father" is an illuminating and insightful masterwork, a compelling portrayal of the man regarded as America's founding father and a precise testimony as to the journey that got him to such a place.

With books like "Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson" and "The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution," Stewart has long held a reputation as a writer who digs deeper and searches for the truths amidst the historical myths and long-held beliefs that have often defined our perceptions of history. The same is very much true with his latest book "George Washington," scheduled for release in February 2021 from Penguin Group Dutton.

If you believe yourself to know George Washington, it's highly unlikely that you know the George Washington revealed by Stewart. "George Washington" is such a comprehensive book that it demanded my full and focused attention. While I often finish books in 2-3 days, "George Washington" became a book that I absorbed in bits and pieces as I allowed Stewart's stories and insights and findings to slosh around my brain and settle within.

Stewart has an extraordinary gift for making history engaging, writing his words with great detail yet with a rhythm that feels natural and an occasional very light humor that makes you smile as you read his stories and accounts of Washington's life.

"George Washington" unveils the political education, and at times failings, that allowed Washington to become a master politician and a trusted figure in America's early days when nearly a single wrong move could have led to collapse for a fledgling nation struggling to find its voice, its place in the world, and its ability to survive in a harrowing financial climate.

While "George Washington" brings forth insights into Washington's earliest years from childhood through his young adult years and into his marriage and family life with Martha, the book becomes particularly riveting as Washington begins his journey into military leadership and discovering his place within community leadership. He largely learned the craft of politicking as a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses, while daily management skills were given birth when he served as a justice of the Fairfax County Court. We are, perhaps, most familiar with Washington as a leader in the Second Continental Congress and, of course, for his military leadership role in the American Revolution.

Yet, Stewart reveals all of this with far greater insight than many of us, myself included, have likely experienced in our high school U.S. History classes or in textbooks that really only begin to skim the surface of Washington's life and experiences. Stewart paints not just a precise portrait of Washington, but also a precise portrait of the culture in which Washington survived and thrived.

By the end of "George Washington," I had to humble myself and realize how much I did not know about America's founding father. I felt like I understood him more substantially as a human being, as a political leader, and for his role within founding a nation and steering its political values.

It's interesting, of course, to read "George Washington" at a time of great challenge in America, a health pandemic and civil unrest revealing a quaking of sorts in the institutional foundations both revealing weaknesses within our structure and providing opportunities for becoming an even greater nation for all Americans.

Stewart masterfully writes about Washington's own challenges amidst bridge-building and regional interests. He reveals what had to be the earliest gestures of human rights, stories unfamiliar to me yet stories that captivate and intrigue and reveal both the strengths and weaknesses of America even in our earliest days and with our earliest politicians including Washington himself.

"George Washington" is not a glorification of our founding father. Instead, it's a rather remarkable effort to provide positive illumination of the truth of Washington. It would be easy to say "humanizing," but that's not really it. Washington does, indeed, become more accessible via Stewart's words but it's more about creating for us Washington's world and the Washington who lived in that world.

Stewart, a lawyer by background, writes in such a way that it occasionally feels like extraordinary, well researched testimony. He doesn't just assert truths, but he defends them exactly yet in a way that engages and, much like Washington himself, builds bridges.

If you had told me early in 2020 that a biography/memoir of George Washington would end up being one of my favorite books of the year, I'd have likely laughed. Yet, here we are. I was engaged and captivated from beginning to end. I learned immensely and gained understanding into the beginning years of America and the politicians and figures who played key roles in those years. I gained new knowledge and insights into Washington himself, long a myth more than a man and now someone both human and extraordinary whose life journey is one to learn from as he learned how to become the man who would become known as America's founding father.
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