A gripping portrait of the first president of the United States from the author of Alexander Hamilton, the New York Times bestselling biography that inspired the musical.
Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.
Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
“Truly magnificent… [a] well-researched, well-written and absolutely definitive biography”—Andrew Roberts, The Wall Street Journal
“Superb… the best, most comprehensive, and most balanced single-volume biography of Washington ever written.”—Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books
“A truly gripping biography of George Washington... I can’t recommend it highly enough—as history, as epic, and, not least, as entertainment. It’s as luxuriantly pleasurable as one of those great big sprawling, sweeping Victorian novels.”—Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway musical Hamilton has sparked new interest in the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers. In addition to Alexander Hamilton, the production also features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Aaron Burr, Lafayette, and many more.
Ron Chernow's latest biography, Grant, is now available in paperback.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
George Washington: He’s the guy on the dollar bill who chopped down the cherry tree while wearing wooden teeth, right? We know about America’s first president and his political achievements, but many of us don’t really know that much about Washington the man outside of the legends associated with his name. Journalist and self-taught historian Ron Chernow (who also wrote Alexander Hamilton, the basis for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical) takes us behind the granite monuments and stone-faced portraits. His thoroughly researched, Pulitzer-winning biography uses Washington’s own carefully kept records—including countless letters, maps, and articles—to reveal the man behind the myth.
In his introduction, veteran biographer Chernow is clear about his goals. Using the recent "explosion of research," he wants to render George Washington "real" and "credible," to replace "frosty respect" with "visceral appreciation." In many respects, Chernow succeeds. He gives us a Washington who starts with limited education and means and, through a remarkable combination of timely deaths, an incredible capacity for hard work, a shrewd marriage, astonishing physical hardiness and courage, a propensity for land speculation, and a gift for finding influential patrons, transforms himself into a soldier, well-to-do planter, local official, and eventually the only real choice to command the Continental army, preside over the Constitutional Convention, and serve as the first president. Chernow makes familiar scenes fresh (like the crossing of the Delaware) and expertly brings the provisional revolutionary and early Republican eras to life. Along the way, however, he mistakes "visceral" for ardent; while he never hides Washington's less than saintly moments or shirks the vexed question of slavery, he often seems to ignore the data he's collected. Examples of shady dealing are quickly followed by tales of Washington's unimpeachable ethics or impeccable political savvy. At times it feels as if Chernow, for all his careful research and talent for synthesis, is in the grip of a full-scale crush. The result is a good book that would have been great if better edited, and if Chernow had trusted that Washington's many merits, even when accompanied by his faults, would speak for themselves.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I read this book because it was written by Chernow. I had previously read Alexander Hamilton who wound up being my favorite Founding Father. I'm sure he would have been an excellent President had he lived. Because of these readings and others about the founding fathers I came to the same conclusion as both Washington and Hamilton about Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Washington history was well researched as is evident by the extensive bibliography, acknowledgments and index. I would have liked to have seen more of the portraits of Washington made over his lifetime.
I've read Chernow's biographies of Hamilton and The House of Morgan, and his bio of George Washington tops them both. Chernow has done a masterful job of humanizing a man who has become a marble statue in most people's minds today. It is clear how much research the author has done, and though there is obviously no shortage of biographies of Washington, he provides unique commentaries from Washington's own correspondence (which was quite voluminous) and gives the reader a complete insight as to who the man really was. Only negative is that I find Chernow's writing style a bit verbose, but the built-in dictionary function on iBooks solves that slight problem.
This book makes you proud to be an American and descendants of this great man!