Sunday, May 19, 2013

His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis

There is little doubt that the most important historical figure in the United States is George Washington. This was recognized in his own time and remains true today. Born to a Virginia planter he went on to become a war hero, wealthy landowner, representative, a war hero again, and the first President of the United States. Any study of Washington has to take his character into consideration. After all, few men in a position of such power have ever been able to surrender that power and walk in to retirement.

Joseph Ellis is a prolific writer on the Revolutionary generation. He has won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize. He is also one of the most readable writer of history. This biography is not as in depth as larger works like Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life. Of course at one third the size of that larger work one has to expect a more cursory look at many aspects of Washington. Ellis does do an excellent job of presenting a full biography of his subject. Washington comes through on these pages as an extraordinary man, which he was. Ellis is not above criticizing Washington when he made mistakes, but he also recognizes that Washington learned from those mistakes and always seemed to come out better for them.

This is an excellent book and a wonderful introduction to the life of George Washington. You won't regret reading this book.

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