Washington by Ron Chernow
A Life

87%

16 Critic Reviews

...Ron Chernow wrenches back the curtain to reveal the real Washington, a general almost bereft of tactical ability yet a politician full of penetrating strategic insight. In this...reviewer's estimation, Washington emerges a far greater man.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

From Pulitzer-prize winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of George Washington.

In Washington: A Life celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life of Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, 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 president.

Despite the reverence his name inspires, Washington remains a lifeless waxwork for many Americans, worthy but dull. A laconic man of granite self-control, he often arouses more respect than affection. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow dashes forever the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man. A strapping six feet, Washington was a celebrated horseman, elegant dancer, and tireless hunter, with a fiercely guarded emotional life. Chernow brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods. Probing his private life, he explores his fraught relationship with his crusty mother, his youthful infatuation with the married Sally Fairfax, and his often conflicted feelings toward his adopted children and grandchildren. He also provides a lavishly detailed portrait of his marriage to Martha and his complex behavior as a slave master.

At the same time, Washington is an astute and surprising portrait of a canny political genius who knew how to inspire people. Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost figures of the age, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, but he also brilliantly orchestrated their actions to shape the new federal government, define the separation of powers, and establish the office of the presidency.

In this unique biography, Ron Chernow takes us on a page-turning journey through all the formative events of America's founding. With a dramatic sweep worthy of its giant subject, Washington is a magisterial work from one of our most elegant storytellers.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Ron Chernow

See more books from this Author
Ron Chernow is the prize-winning author of five previous books. His first, The House of Morgan, won the National Book Award. His two most recent books, Alexander Hamilton and Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, were both nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography. Chernow lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Published October 5, 2010 by Penguin Books. 948 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Washington
All: 16 | Positive: 14 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Andrew Cayton on Sep 30 2010

An obvious answer is that Chernow is no ordinary writer. Like his popular biographies of John D. Rockefeller and Alexander Hamilton, his “Washington” while long, is vivid and well paced.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Sep 27 2010

The book doggedly follows the changeable, inconsistent, sometimes flagrantly dishonest Washington through a morass of contradictory gestures, and Mr. Chernow works hard to parse this material with a judicious eye.

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WSJ online

Excellent
on Oct 02 2010

...Ron Chernow wrenches back the curtain to reveal the real Washington, a general almost bereft of tactical ability yet a politician full of penetrating strategic insight. In this...reviewer's estimation, Washington emerges a far greater man.

Read Full Review of Washington: A Life | See more reviews from WSJ online

NPR

Excellent
on Oct 05 2010

...Chernow lets the reader know he wants to give an accurate portrayal of an enigmatic historical figure. In this book's pages, he does it in a way that not even the most gifted portrait artist of Washington ever could.

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Washington Times

Excellent
on Oct 08 2010

Ron Chernow, a talented biographer with a strong narrative gift, does full justice to the one truly indispensable man in our nation’s history...

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LA Times

Good
on Oct 10 2010

Chernow is too fine a historian to oversell Washington. There are plenty of flaws disclosed in "Washington: A Life," many aimed at his "hard-driving" behavior toward slaves.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
on Sep 29 2010

It turns out Washington didn't really hover above the fray, and in Chernow's remarkable book, readers can finally look him in the eye.

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The Telegraph

Above average
Reviewed by Brendan Simms on Dec 12 2010

Some stylistic slips and a tendency towards the homespun aside, the author writes well, and has a remarkable eye for telling anecdotes and quotations.

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Simon Sebag Montefiore on Dec 02 2010

If anyone wants to read about Washington, this book, rich in detail, meticulous in its research, sensible in its judgments, is the one to read.

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USA Today

Excellent
on Oct 14 2010

The reader finishes this biography dazzled by Washington, grateful to Chernow, and eager for a miniseries on the order of HBO 's John Adams .

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Dallas News

Excellent
on Nov 07 2010

Chernow's one-volume biography is length...but fully justified by its subject. It makes for a compelling story.

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Oregon Live

Good
on Oct 09 2010

...the historic Washington summons comparison to the great contemporary nation builder, Nelson Mandela. Before reading Chernow's thought-provoking biography, yoking these two world-historic figures would never have occurred to me.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
on Oct 14 2010

Chernow has really pierced the veil into Washington's intellect and his particularly brilliant command of details.

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Salon

Excellent
on Oct 20 2010

... this is far and away the best life of George Washington ever written.

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The New Republic

Good
on Jan 13 2011

Chernow’s book rewards its readers with an epic tale of true greatness and enormous self-sacrifice.

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HistoryNet

Above average
on Mar 07 2011

In Washington, Chernow has done as good a job as he did with his magnificent 2004 biography Hamilton, even if he didn't quite end up with as good a book.

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Reader Rating for Washington
85%

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