General George Washington by Edward G. Lengel
A Military Life

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Synopsis

Much has been written in the past two centuries about George Washington the statesman and “father of his country.” Less often discussed is Washington’s military career, including his exploits as a young officer and his performance as the Revolutionary War commander in chief. Now, in a revealing work of historical biography, Edward Lengel has written the definitive account of George Washington the soldier.

Based largely on Washington’s personal papers, this engrossing book paints a vivid, factual portrait of a man to whom lore and legend so tenaciously cling. To Lengel, Washington was the imperfect commander. Washington possessed no great tactical ingenuity, and his acknowledged “brilliance in retreat” only demonstrates the role luck plays in the fortunes of all great men. He was not an enlisted man’s leader; he made a point of never mingling with his troops. He was not an especially creative military thinker; he fought largely by the book.

He was not a professional, but a citizen soldier, who, at a time when warfare demanded that armies maneuver efficiently in precise formation, had little practical training handling men in combat. Yet despite his flaws, Washington was a remarkable figure, a true man of the moment, a leader who possessed a clear strategic, national, and continental vision, and who inspired complete loyalty from his fellow revolutionaries, officers, and enlisted men. America could never have won freedom without him.

A trained surveyor, Washington mastered topography and used his superior knowledge of battlegrounds to maximum effect. He appreciated the importance of good allies in times of crisis, and understood well the benefits of coordination of ground and naval forces. Like the American nation itself, he was a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts–a remarkable everyman whose acts determined the course of history. Lengel argues that Washington’s excellence was in his completeness, in how he united the military, political, and personal skills necessary to lead a nation in war and peace.

At once informative and engaging, and filled with some eye-opening revelations about Washington, the war for American independence, and the very nature of military command, General George Washington is a book that reintroduces readers to a figure many think they already know.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Edward G. Lengel

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Edward G. LengeL is editor in chief of the Papers of George Washington and a professor at the University of Virginia. He is the author of several books, including General George Washington and This Glorious Struggle. A lecturer on Washington and the Revolutionary War, Lengel is also a historical consultant, advising on such works as the History Channel's own comprehensive documentary. He is a frequent radio and television guest—appearing on C-SPAN, CBS, and NPR, among others—and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines in the vein of military history and American heritage. He lives with his family in Charlottesville, Virginia.
 
Published June 7, 2005 by Random House. 512 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for General George Washington

Publishers Weekly

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Garrett's sonorous, almost soothing, voice is a perfect match for much of Lengel's outstanding revisionist assessment of George Washington's military impact, based on the voluminous cor

Sep 05 2005 | Read Full Review of General George Washington: A ...

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