I generally don t like biographies, but, knowing little of Washington save for his French and Indian War and Revolutionary War exploits, and not having heard anything bad about Chernow s biography, I figured I might as well learn something.Why should you read this book when you think that you know all you need to about George Washington I think that you should because this book is wonderful, both in the writing and in the level of detail Chernow is a wonderful writer As with his other biograp I generally don t like biographies, but, knowing little of Washington save for his French and Indian War and Revolutionary War exploits, and not having heard anything bad about Chernow s biography, I figured I might as well learn something.Why should you read this book when you think that you know all you need to about George Washington I think that you should because this book is wonderful, both in the writing and in the level of detail Chernow is a wonderful writer As with his other biographies, Chernow gives us a picture that goes beyond a stiff formal portrait He gives us, what I consider to be, a fair picture of Washington, with his faults clearly delineated as well as his positive attributes Here is not the Washington promoted to a saint like status, rather a man who made the most of all the opportunities that came his way A man who was not above ordering gold braid and a red sash for his uniform, and a man who took offense at slights although when necessary held his anger to himself and a man who bristled when he was appointed to a military rank that he felt was too low However, he was also a man who learned by his mistakes and Chermow points out a lot of them and was above all courageous, conscientious, honest, and hard working He shows Washington the man a man who felt handicapped by his lack of a college education, a man with a volatile temperament that he kept tightly under control, a man who could lead men but found himself leading untrained and undisciplined ones He shows Washington to be human, a man who adopted a blistering style whenever he thought someone had cheated him Most of all he shows a Washington who prevented the dissolution of the army during the war and whose actions defined the presidency of the US One of Chernow s objectives was to show that Washington made his own decisions, after consultation with those whose opinions he respected, and contrary to the charge made by his enemies was not controlled by men like Hamilton.What I found most interesting were the discussions of those aspects of Washington s life that are generally not covered in one volume biographies He discusses the economic factors that eventually turned Washington against Britain Chernow discusses Washington the businessman both as a planter and a land speculator and his dealings with his London agents Contrary to popular myth, Chernow shows Washington to be land rich but cash poor, frequently to the extent of being on the brink of economic disaster Chernow devotes two chapters and parts of others to the issue of slavery He makes it clear that Washington did not like the institution, but he viewed his slaves as an investment that he did not know how to dispense with without bring about his economic ruin Further, he unrealistically expected his slaves to actlike employees or soldiers and could not understand why some did not, or why some ran away.Remarkably, Chernow makes Washington come alive without sacrificing details My touchstone for a biography on Washington is the extent to which it covers his family, particularly his brothers Flexner s one volume condensation of his four volume biography of Washington mentions George s older half brothers, but not his older half sister or his younger full brothers and sisters Chernow mentions them all He also clears up the story of how George acquired Mt Vernon, and how it got its name Chernow also discusses Washington s difficult relationship with his mother, a subject generally not covered in other one volume biographies The book also discusses such diverse topics as Washington s teeth, his height, and many of his illnesses.As another main theme, Chernow tries to debunk the image of Washington as a cold, unfeeling, stoic, marble like statue, simply doing right by his country Washington s ambition shines through the pages, especially early in his life Moreover, Chernow posits that Washington was a man of powerful emotion, often bubbling barely beneath the surface, and overflowing muchfrequently that history generally notes Those emotions ranged from seething anger to tender care for his extended and adopted family, and his army Chernow does not ascribe Washington s greatness to these twin personas stoic and yet temperamental but he does suggest the tension was a driving force in Washington s life His revelation of the emotional dimensions of Washington s life gave me a new understanding of Washington, and a new appreciation of his complexities.For example, Washington was not a military genius Washington s missteps revealed failings as a strategist No one understood his limitations better than Washington himself who, on the eve of the New York campaign in 1776, confessed to Congress his want of experience to move on a large scale and his limited and contracted knowledgein Military Matters Rather, the secret to Washington s excellence lay in his completeness, in how he united the military, political, and personal skills necessary to lead a nation in war and peace Despite being an imperfect commander and at times even a tactically suspect one Washington nevertheless possessed the requisite combination of vision, integrity, talents, and good fortune to lead America to victory in its war for independence.This is a complete biography of George Washington It is divided into six parts, covering his entire life In contrast, some biographies only cover part of his life For instance, Willard Sterne Randall s biography of Washington focuses almost entirely on the revolutionary war Chernow covers everything, devoting almost equal space to Washington s presidency as to his leadership of the army The book contains 30 black and white photographs of paintings of individuals, printed on high gloss paper The quality of the photographs is good, but lacks the color of the originals, which is unfortunate.I think that there are two caveats that a potential reader should be aware of This is not a detailed military history there are no maps or detailed discussions of tactics It isabout the man and how he handled the problems of the war, than a history of the war itself Neither is this book a political treatise on the Washington presidency Chernow does, however, show how Washington, by his actions, created the presidency For instance,Chernow shows how Washington changed the Senate s constitutional requirement of advise and consent to consent for actions he took One should not take these caveats as an indication that the book was not excellent or is incomplete It is just that there is a limit to what one can put into a single volume, even withthan 800 pages of text Further, this is a book about Washington s whole life, written for a general audience In this it succeeds admirably After reading a fictional series set throughout the U.S War of Independence, I became highly curious about some of its key actors The first such individual is George Washington, known as the general who led the troops to victory and became the Republic s first president However, as Ron Chernow seeks to illustrate in his tome, little is actually known about Washington beyond his general persona Chernow posits that many short and superficial biographies have been written, which offer only a sh After reading a fictional series set throughout the U.S War of Independence, I became highly curious about some of its key actors The first such individual is George Washington, known as the general who led the troops to victory and became the Republic s first president However, as Ron Chernow seeks to illustrate in his tome, little is actually known about Washington beyond his general persona Chernow posits that many short and superficial biographies have been written, which offer only a shallow glimpse into the man and his life Other pieces span volumes and are likely too dense or detailed to be of much use to the general public For Americans and history buffs alike, this single volume work offers a comprehensive look at Washington as it weaves along a narrative from cradle to grave The tome highlights numerous aspects of Washington s life, as Chernow presents a man in six periods of his life, generally told in a chronology easy to digest As Chernow has undertaken my usual style of finding themes in the individual on discussion, I will analyse this book from a different angle whether it provides key pillars to a strong biography A truly powerful biography ought to encompass strong views of the individual throughout their life, give flowing connection through historical happenings, and offer a collection of anecdotes little known to the reader for synthesis Chernow accomplishes this on many levels and makes the story one of both education and pure entertainment George Washington is no simple man, which Chernow accentuates effectively while presenting his findings from years of research A piece not only deserving of attention for its detail, but its presentation that permits the general public to digest with ease.Chernow does a fabulous job in illustrating George Washington as a person, from cradle to grave As mentioned above, the tome is divided into six areas of Washington s life, with thorough discussion at each point, which offers the reader a foundation on which to build the greater story While little is known about Washington s youth, Chernow sifts through documents to create a fluid narrative and presents it to the reader, alongside some key aspects to his family life, particularly the relationship held with Mary Ball Washington, his ornery mother From there, the reader learns much about Washington s service to the Crown in the French and Indian Wars, as well as early public service in the House of Burgesses and the rebellious side, as Britain began abusing its colonial residents Chernow takes much pleasure in painting a picture of Washington outside of his titled roles, including the struggles with slavery as a landowner and the perils of the heart related to loves lost and his eventual marriage to Martha Dandridge Custis From the outset, Washington did not imagine himself a leader or political figure, though he wrestled the reins of power away from others and led the Continental Army into battle, as well as pushing the colonial political body through tough measures once the War of Independence had been completed The road to the presidency was also one Washington did not expect to travel, going so far as to bow out of public life, only to be coaxed back to the forefront He served to shape the nation, then led it along its newly crafted rulebook the Constitution for two terms Thereafter, there was little left for him but final retirement at Mount Vernon Chernow creates major arcs in the tome and keeps the reader in the fray as these transformations took place, highlighting the complexity and varied nature of George Washington.While Washington the man stands firmly supported in the text, it is the connecting pieces, which act as historical ribbons, that keep the narrative moving effectively Chernow does not parachute the reader into six areas of Washington s life, but offers a hands on approach to the entire history that was Washington The length of the tome speaks to the detail in which Chernow invests in the story, offering powerful linkages and curious tales Detailed discussions surrounding Washington s early years in the Virginia backcountry, exploring the Indian lands, serve as a wonderful backdrop when it comes to the wars that Britain waged on the first inhabitants of America Additionally, countless pages of backstory on the rise to rebellion and early military skirmishes help provide the reader with an omnipresent view of life on the battlefield Washington struggled as well as conquered, something that cannot be downplayed Even with the War complete, building the independent country took hard work and decisive action, all of which is accounted for within the biography One cannot forget the two terms that Washington served as president, nor the daily struggles he had as he forged into unknown areas and sought to serve effectively Chernow uses these, and many other historical events to weave together a narrative that leaves little doubt in the reader s mind that the author did his due diligence.No biography can truly hold its weight if it does not shine a light on some of the lesser known events in an individual s life Chernow uses his research to present these sorts of facts throughout the tome Numerous discussions arose surrounding Washington and his dental issues While many might be aware of the dentures he wore actually hippopotamus or walrus ivory and NOT wood , that he sought to have the extracted teeth of others slaves, mostly embedded in his gums as a first effort should provide early scintillating news that the reader will take away from the tome Also, the struggles with statue and bust creation proved highly amusing and time consuming to Washington and those around him Even the degree of detail into which Washington sought to create the ideal constitution cannot be lost While Washington had many public feats about which history books overflow, smaller nuggets also prove highly entertaining for the reader and pace the narrative to keep details from dragging down the flow.Chernow addresses a number of significant themes in the tome that cannot go unmentioned While slavery and slave owning were common practice in the 18th century, Washington struggled with this, at times Nowhere near a great emancipator, Washington saw such labour as essential as he cultivated crops and sought to keep his household afloat He did, however, struggle with how to move forward, within his own lands as well as on a larger scale, but never firms up a policy, for which Lincoln paid a price decades later Another of the key themes is, predictably, the creation of the constitutional document and the Bill of Rights The stories surrounding these two documents are highly captivating, at least for a political scientist like myself, and should prove highly intriguing to the reader As if sitting in the rooms, Chernow allows the reader to see some of the Founding Fathers present their ideas and thoughts related to the creation of the Republic, while tossing aside some of the parliamentary or British precedents so familiar to colonial statehouses Included therein is the debate around federalism, state rights, as well as the split between the executive and legislative branches of government Such foundation material comes off the page and allows the reader to understand in a way no generic textbook can offer Pure historical and biographical gold on pages throughout this piece.George Washington was a complicated man, so varied and unique that one book could not hope to shepherd it together Chernow does a masterful job of bringing sources together, first hand accounts of happenings, and justifies much of what he has written with solid arguments Was Washington the greatest man ever to walk the hallowed roads surrounding the Potomac Likely not, but Chernow makes an effective argument that his simple life and passion to shed the chains of colonial oppression are key factors in how those United States of America came to fruition.Kudos do not seem enough to offer you, Mr Chernow Your masterful storytelling has left me wantingand places you alongside Robert A Caro and David McCullough.Like hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism George WashingtonMy first exposure to Chernow was his now ber famous biography My daughter owns her own copy of Chernow s Alexander Hamilton and just today showed me Chernow rapping Alexander Hamilton dressed in the show s distinctive revolutionary garb for Ham4Ham We were lucky enough to see Hamilton in NYC.So, now, after President Trump s election, I m finding spiritual solace in reading a book a day at least in January and trying Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism George WashingtonMy first exposure to Chernow was his now ber famous biography My daughter owns her own copy of Chernow s Alexander Hamilton and just today showed me Chernow rapping Alexander Hamilton dressed in the show s distinctive revolutionary garb for Ham4Ham We were lucky enough to see Hamilton in NYC.So, now, after President Trump s election, I m finding spiritual solace in reading a book a day at least in January and trying to read at least one presidential biography a month this month I read two, this one and Caro s The Path to Power, LBJ 1 I need to be reminded that, yes, politics has always been nasty AND yes this too will pass Anyway, while I didn t like the George Washington bio QUITE as much as I enjoyed Chernow s Hamilton bio, it might have been for reasons beyond Chernow s control I ve read a bunch of Washington biographies and there isn t much that I haven t come across, or at least knew if not in form certainly by shadow There wasn t much here that was surprising, but as a biography it was compelling Chernow did a masterful job of threading throughout the biography certain Washington traits and contradictions, the biggest being his views on slavery, and his treatment of slaves The fact that Chernow didn t write a hagiography but was trying to paint a full picture of our first president was obvious As far as biographies of Washington go, this one beats Ellis His Excellency George Washington by a large and straight rather than prominent nose Chernow is technicallyof a journalist than a historian, but in this age of modern biographies there is certainly room for the self taught In many ways, journalists often produce fantastic biographies since they often have a distinct narrative talent That doesn t mean Chernow isn t historically rigorous in his historical efforts Many of the primary sources are ones I hadn t read before, or were ones used in a different context So, while I don t think Chernow writes as well as Robert Caro, he still belongs on the top shelf of living presidential biographers Finally, Chernow writes primarily about banking families and American biographies Chernow s Banking Dynasties 1 Titan The Life of John D Rockefeller, Sr 2 The House of Morgan An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance 3 The Warburgs The Twentieth Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family Chernow s American Political Biographies 1 Alexander Hamilton 2 Washington A Life 3 Grant Upon reviewing my reviews, I m convinced Chernow does slightly better at writing histories of individuals rather than families politics rather than finance However, I should note, I ve enjoyed ALL of his books and he s a master at his craft I have been a political junkie for most of my life I realized, however, that outside of the presidents in my lifetime, I have little or no knowledge of the earlier presidents My goal is to read a biography of every president if possible I started with this one Washington A Life by Ron Chernow It is a tome over 800 pages but I am so happy I stuck with it.Outside of the folklore, I realized I knew nothing of the person who was George Washington This book changed that for me Chernow s I have been a political junkie for most of my life I realized, however, that outside of the presidents in my lifetime, I have little or no knowledge of the earlier presidents My goal is to read a biography of every president if possible I started with this one Washington A Life by Ron Chernow It is a tome over 800 pages but I am so happy I stuck with it.Outside of the folklore, I realized I knew nothing of the person who was George Washington This book changed that for me Chernow s extensive research and his wonderful writing made Washington come alive for me He became a real flesh and blood person.I think, though, that the most important thing I learned from this book was actually not even about Washington himself I learned that from the beginning of our republic, politics has always been contentious, nasty, full of jealousies and name calling The only difference between then and now is that today, we have the internet which makes the transmission of all of this hostility instantaneous This knowledge both depresses me and heartens me at the same time It makes me feel that perhaps the current toxic political climate does NOT signal the decline of our country as I had been fearing I highly recommend this book to anyone who really wants to get a sense of George Washington , the man as well as the the first President of the United States I could describe many interesting facts that I learned but I believe that Mr Chernow summed it up far better than I ever could By the time of his death, Washington had poured his last ounce of passion into the creation of this country Never a perfect man, he always had a normal quota of human frailty, including a craving for money, status and fame But over the years, this man of deep emotions and strong opinions had learned to subordinate his personal dreams and aspirations to the service of a larger cause In the things that mattered most for his country, he had shown himself capable of constant growth and self improvement p812 What greater thing can a human being hope to achieve in a lifetime Fantastic book about a truly admirable person flaws and all The celebrated Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of America With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume life, he carries the reader through Washington s troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian Wars, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention and his magnificent performance as America s first presidentDespite the reverence his name inspires Washington remains a waxwork to many readers, worthy but dull, a laconic man of remarkable self control But in this groundbreaking work Chernow revises forever the uninspiring stereotype He portrays Washington as a strapping, celebrated horseman, elegant dancer and tireless hunter, who guarded his emotional life with intriguing ferocity Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost figures of the age, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, he orchestrated their actions to help realise his vision for the new federal government, define the separation of powers, and establish the office of the presidencyRon Chernow takes us on a page turning journey through all the formative events of America s founding This is a magisterial work from one of America s foremost writers and historiansIn Washington A Life biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation With a breadth depth matched by no other one volume life, this crisply paced narrative carries readers thru his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French Indian War, his creation of Mt Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention his performance as the st president Despite the reverence his name inspires, Washington remains a lifeless waxwork for many, worthy but dull A laconic man of granite self control, he often arouses respect than affection This work, based on massive research, dashes the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man A strapping, Washington was a celebrated horseman, elegant dancer tireless hunter, with a fiercely guarded emotional life Chernow brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions many moods Probing his private life, he explores his fraught relationship with his crusty mother, his youthful infatuation with the married Sally Fairfax his often conflicted feelings toward his adopted children grandchildren He also provides a portrait of his marriage to Martha his complex behavior as a slave master At the same time this is an astute portrait of a canny politician who knew how to inspire people Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost figures of the age, including Madison, Hamilton, Adams Jefferson, but he also orchestrated their actions to shape the new federal government, define the separation of powers establish the office of the presidency This biography takes us on a page turning journey thru the formative events of America s founding With a dramatic sweep worthy of its subject, this is a magisterial work from an elegant storyteller In early 2017, in an effort to numb myself to the clown show, I began a quest to read a biography of each President in order, one through 44 I wanted to immerse myself in Presidential history by selecting a good, well reviewed biography on each one So, after extensive research I selected this one about George Washington to start It is long and has fine print Six months of eye problems and eye surgery slowed me down I am glad I persevered This book is very detailed and well written I In early 2017, in an effort to numb myself to the clown show, I began a quest to read a biography of each President in order, one through 44 I wanted to immerse myself in Presidential history by selecting a good, well reviewed biography on each one So, after extensive research I selected this one about George Washington to start It is long and has fine print Six months of eye problems and eye surgery slowed me down I am glad I persevered This book is very detailed and well written I absolutely understand why he is called the Father of Our Country Great man Very disciplined.But, at this rate and at my age, I doubt that I will be around to read 45 Oh, darn It was long It was extremely well researched and very detailed Did I say it was long It was really long It was also brilliant Before reading this, I knew the basic things everyone knows about George Washington Now I know that he wasn t always this god that we think he was He was ambivalent about slavery, made some fairly bad decisions, and spent much of his time dealing with his own insecurities imposter syndrome In short, George Washington was an imperfect human just like the rest of It was long It was extremely well researched and very detailed Did I say it was long It was really long It was also brilliant Before reading this, I knew the basic things everyone knows about George Washington Now I know that he wasn t always this god that we think he was He was ambivalent about slavery, made some fairly bad decisions, and spent much of his time dealing with his own insecurities imposter syndrome In short, George Washington was an imperfect human just like the rest of us This imperfect human, however, helped build a country I can barely build something with Legos High five, George Chernow knocked this biography out of the park 3.5 thoughts soon. This is book six I think in my Joe reads at least one book about every President challenge This one was a beast at 928 pages but well worth it What I knew about George Washington before this book you could fit in a thimble I only knew all the stuff they teach to little kids He couldn t tell a lie, chopped down a cherry tree, threw something across a river at some point I guess , wooden teeth and something about Valley Forge That, and everything Dan Brown taught me in The Lost Symbol This is book six I think in my Joe reads at least one book about every President challenge This one was a beast at 928 pages but well worth it What I knew about George Washington before this book you could fit in a thimble I only knew all the stuff they teach to little kids He couldn t tell a lie, chopped down a cherry tree, threw something across a river at some point I guess , wooden teeth and something about Valley Forge That, and everything Dan Brown taught me in The Lost Symbol Needless to say, all of those facts were lies and I knew nothing about George Washington.This was a very interesting book When it is all said and done you feel like you really know the man, not just the facts One minor quibble the most boring part of the book for me was the Revolutionary War section, which was unfortunately but appropriately huge I don t know, I guess I m just not a war story guy I read these books for the history and the politics not for battle strategy However, I m sure those parts were fine and the problem lies with me and not the book.I loved learning about Washington s complicated stance on Slavery At various times he seemed for it, than against it, than for it, than he freed his slavesbut not until his wife died The one thing I look for when reading about folks during this time period in regards to Slavery is, did their stance on this issue improve over their lifetime I m satisfied that Washington s did, so he gets at least some credit For a President that fails this test, look up my review on American Lion Lets just say that Andrew Jackson failed this test Washington s complicated relationships with women was fascinating He clearly loved the ladies but had a tremendous amount of self control I mean, the first President could have scored just about anybody but there is no indication that Washington was ever unfaithful to Martha, who was his closest friend and confidant.I also loved that his mother was the WORST Until the day she died, she was unimpressed by the fact that her son was President and never thought he gave her enough It clearly drove Washington up the wall Awesomesauce.I truly believe that Washington was the perfect man to be the first President All the other founding fathers were so opinionated and bombastic that it is unclear if the young nation could have survived any of them in those critical first eight years Washington was defined by his self control He had a fierce temper, but kept it in check He was occasionally betrayed but didn t use this as an excuse to fail He could have been king but was humble enough to know that such a decision wouldn t be best for the nation.I have a new found respect for the man and am now actually excited about reading the other founding fathers biographies, especially Thomas Jefferson They did NOT get along and now that I ve read the Washington side, I can t wait to read Jefferson s.This is a must read but be warned, the length can be daunting that s what she said so take breaks as you go It will truly transform Washington from an idea into a man Given how long ago these events occurred, that is an impressive feat 41 hours and 54 minutes later, I am finished 3.5 stars.This biography was fascinating and definitely comprehensive I knowabout Washington s dental troubles than I need to, really.It was great on audio because it didn t allow me to get bogged down in the details, but by listening to this to and from work for seven weeks, I feel a have a really good general sense of this man and his vital role in the formation of our country I m sure I won t retain good recall of details, but I ve becom 41 hours and 54 minutes later, I am finished 3.5 stars.This biography was fascinating and definitely comprehensive I knowabout Washington s dental troubles than I need to, really.It was great on audio because it didn t allow me to get bogged down in the details, but by listening to this to and from work for seven weeks, I feel a have a really good general sense of this man and his vital role in the formation of our country I m sure I won t retain good recall of details, but I ve become okay with reading non fiction this way I ve never going to remember and learn everything.Between this and my obsessive listening to the Hamilton soundtrack I fell down a real serious Revolutionary rabbit hole there for awhile It s been great It s good, in this time of political turmoil, to remember that the foundation of our country was pretty much turmoil incarnate