A fascinating and illuminating account of how George Washington became the dominant force in the creation of the United States of America, from award-winning author David O. Stewart
“An outstanding biography . . . [George Washington] has a narrative drive such a life deserves.”—The Wall Street Journal
Washington's rise constitutes one of the greatest self-reinventions in history. In his mid-twenties, this third son of a modest Virginia planter had ruined his own military career thanks to an outrageous ego. But by his mid-forties, that headstrong, unwise young man had evolved into an unassailable leader chosen as the commander in chief of the fledgling Continental Army. By his mid-fifties, he was unanimously elected the nation's first president. How did Washington emerge from the wilderness to become the central founder of the United States of America?
In this remarkable new portrait, award-winning historian David O. Stewart unveils the political education that made Washington a master politician—and America's most essential leader. From Virginia's House of Burgesses, where Washington mastered the craft and timing of a practicing politician, to his management of local government as a justice of the Fairfax County Court to his eventual role in the Second Continental Congress and his grueling generalship in the American Revolution, Washington perfected the art of governing and service, earned trust, and built bridges. The lessons in leadership he absorbed along the way would be invaluable during the early years of the republic as he fought to unify the new nation.
Historian and mystery writer Stewart (Madison's Gift) delivers an insightful take on George Washington's evolution as a politician. Painstaking accounts of episodes from Washington's life before the American Revolution illustrate the flaws he struggled to overcome: "a meager education, a temper that terrified those who saw him lose it, a cockiness that could make him reckless, and a deep financial insecurity that could lead him close to greed." Stewart delves into Washington's mixed record as a military commander during the French and Indian War; his "shrewd calculation" in deciding to first run for the Virginia House of Burgesses in Frederick County, where he had deep connections to the region's largest landowner; and his public presentation of the Fairfax Resolves, which pledged to resist the Coercive Acts by all means necessary and helped make Washington a celebrated figure at the First Continental Congress in 1774. Stewart's balanced portrait of Washington also includes uncomfortable details about his treatment of his slaves, whom he verbally abused and actively prevented from filing legal claims that might have led to their emancipation. Even readers well-versed in Washington's life will learn something new from this meticulous look at how he became the "paramount political figure" of his era.
Well timed book for all Americans to read
Having read all the most recent books on Washington I found this read an excellent read. It brought Washington to light as a human being and highlighted his most important trait as a leader. The ability to learn from his mistakes and his integrity in almost all things.
At a time when politicians are looking to tear down what Washington and his contemporaries built, this book is an important guide in how democracy requires faith in the process and integrity in its leaders. Washington had that faith, patience and common sense our leaders could use more of. This should be required reading in all high schools and colleges.