Joseph Ellis, "His Excellency: George Washington" [Audiobook]
recordedbooks.com | mp3 32 kbps stereo | ISBN: 1419307274 | 2006 | Language: English | 170MB
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 24 Nov 2004
By J. E. Robinson - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
The author is a well known Pulitzer Prize winner and has written a number of books on American political figures including Thomas Jefferson. Here he presents us with a magnificent but short book on Washington, written for the general reader.
There are two things to discuss, i.e.: the book as a book and the story. Some might mildly protest that the book is too short and it is; it is just 275 pages of text and 40 pages of notes plus it has a collection of photos. The book is superbly written. After a short read I found myself already at page 50 and then at page 100 as the pages sped by. It is entertaining, fascinating, and a well written story. It is a pleasure to read and is really a quick light read that can be accomplished in a few days. It is far from being a long and complicated biography. It is an easy to read book aimed at the average general reader, and the author should take a lot of pride in the book.
The story is really very fascinating. The author uses a very conservative approach and relies mainly on hard facts and writings from various historical documents. He tries to avoid using Washington's notes that were edited by Washington in the late 1780's to 1790's. The author Ellis does not bridge any gaps with fiction as say Anthony Burgess did in his Shakespeare biography. It is just the facts but superbly packaged in a fascinating story.
Since the story is very accurate and relies on the public record, it skips the George Washington childhood and starts with Washington as an officer in the Virginia militia in 1753 fighting in western Pennsylvania, known then as Ohio country. Interestingly, at that time that military action was a disaster but Washington survived with his reputation.
The book is a combination of his personal life mixed in with his public life. It is broken down roughly into four sections. First we have the young Colonel Washington fighting the Indians and French in the Ohio valley in the 1750's. This is followed by a brief section on his management of his and his wife's estates in Virginia, and his first encounters in politics. That is the first 60-70 pages and takes to the early 1770's. That experience solidifies his anti British views and leads to his interest in what follows in later years.
The third section involves his handling of the war of independence that went on for approximately 8 years until the early 1780's. It starts for Washington with the Continental Congress and his taking charge of the troops in Cambridge, in Massachusetts (near Harvard), after Bunker Hill. The author describes the other figures such as American General Gates and British Generals Howe and Cornwallis, and the turncoat Arnold, and Lafayette etc and he describes the general flow of the war. We read about the loss of New York, the American victory at Saratoga, the dashing clashes near Trenton and Princeton, the misery at Valley Forge, other defeats, the alliance with the French and then the fortuitous victory at Yorktown by the Americans where they snatched victory from the looming jaws of defeat.
The last section - that some will think too short - is his role as the first President. He served for two terms and oversaw the defining legislation of the new republic and the construction of Washington DC, as it was later named. We learn briefly about his interactions with Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, and others, and we learn of his views on slavery.
All in all this is an excellent book and a fascinating introduction to George Washington, a fighter, manager, and superb politician. As you will read, Washington was not a highly educated person but a self educated manager, general and politician. He was not a talker but let his actions speak for themselves. Above all he was a man of integrity, a seasoned citizen, a business man, a nation builder, a man with a plan, a man of action who rode a big white horse, adored by the people and woe to his political foes. He was voted to the Virginia delegation of the Continental Congress with 96% of the vote and won all electoral votes when he ran for President. Truly an unusual man.
It is a must read, and an obvious 5 stars.
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