Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guest Blogger for Washington by Ron Chernow

I was asked by TLC tours if I knew anyone who loved history. I did! My dad. So, I asked if he'd like to try this blogger thing and he agreed. So, without further ado... here is your guest blogger of the day... my dad, Allen!

From TLC tours:
Hardcover: 869 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (October 5, 2010)

From National Book Award 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.
The writing flows easily for reading and there are many chapters for convenient stopping points. Points that may not be clear in old style document writings are made clear by the author’s writing style. Of course the book is voluminous since Ron Chernow covers the complete life of Washington.  The life of Washington was filled with many historical adventures. All the content is obviously well researched for accuracy. I believe most Americans would enjoy reading the book to learn and review about the man who is perhaps the most important person for the beginnings of our country. I have enjoyed learning some American history through movies and occasionally reading, but I have never been a history enthusiast. However, I am very pleased that I took the time to read “Washington” by Ron Chernow.
The book was very interesting in its entirety. There were some parts of Washington’s life that peaked my interest. I was especially interested in the exploration of western lands including the part about Fort Necessity.  Another high interest area for me was the close relationships of Washington with key figures in our history, such as Knox, Lafayette, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison. Consequently, with this came my interest in the Federalists vs the Republicans with their political maneuvering and manipulating. This is very similar to what still takes place today. Washington’s opinion and handling of the Whiskey Rebellion was also of peak interest to me.
Other areas that stood out for me were his strong ties with the Fairfax family, all his family ties to the Custis family through his marriage to Martha and what a great woman Martha must have been, his thoughts on slavery and farming and finally the unusual relationship with his mother.
Finally, I believe that most people will find the book most enlightening to read about the many fallible aspects of Washington. The managing of Mount Vernon with his many money problems help illustrate him as a fallible man.  Although we appreciate and love the legend, I believe most would also like to know the complete man better.


  1. Great review :D
    How cool that you managed to get your dad to come over

  2. Fabulous review, Allen! I too love knowing about the fallible aspects of legendary figures - makes them more human that way.

  3. Hi Allen! *waves* Thanks for reading and writing about this book - you did a great job.

    And thanks to Melissa for agreeing to be part of this tour. :)

  4. I like the wide variety of books your read :)


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