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His Excellency: George Washington (2004)

by Joseph J. Ellis

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3,278553,004 (3.99)137
From the French and Indian War to Mount Vernon, from the American Revolution to the presidency, Ellis delivers what will stand the test of time as the definitive biography of the greatest American icon.

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Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I realized as I read this book how little I actually knew about George Washington. I feel this book gave me a good overview of his life. He played a lot of things close to his chest, and Martha destroyed all their correspondence when he died, so it still seems hard to really know him, but I think this author makes some pretty good guesses. How amazing to be front and center in such an important time, and of course he knew it so he worked hard to cultivate his personality and memory, but not in the way a lot of folks would have - he was quite wise with most of his decisions. Very good read. ( )
  glade1 | Jun 24, 2021 |
Sometimes it is hard to have a vision of what it must have been like at the birth of our country. It is even harder to imagine that these people...Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton were real. I found the book very insightful and learned quite a bit about Washington. I found the book very compelling but I am not sure it was the writing as much as the subject :) ( )
  mcsp | Jan 25, 2021 |
I hate history books that are dry and "just the facts ma'am!" HIS EXCELLENCY:GEORGE WASHINGTON BY JOSEPH J ELLIS is perfect! Mr.Ellis has buried himself into the Washington letters,journals and everything he could get his hands on, to come up with this book. Well written,with plenty of documentation of his sources, it is NOT dry reading! Some of the facts about Washington I knew from other books I have read and some not. Mr.Ellis has put a lot of years into research and come up with a very good picture of HIS EXCELLENCY : GEORGE WASHINGTON. ( )
  DDJTJ1 | Oct 14, 2019 |
A great, if somewhat short, book on the elusive George Washington.

Ellis' main objective is to find the man beneath the myth, to clear the vines from the statue. He does this well, the only problem being that Washington was so calm, so self-controlled, that his image and his person are often hard to distinguish from one another. Either way, its hard to draw any conclusions regarding accuracy, since this is the only book on this era that I've read; I have no real point of reference.

As to the writing, Ellis can write a great sentence, and make a great point. He writes in a scholarly manner, but not so much that it becomes tedious to read. Every now and then a sentence baffled me, and I truly had to read it a few times before I could understand it, but besides such small incidents Ellis' writing is marvelously clear.

The book gives a brief, if somewhat clipped, picture of Washington's life, first as an officer, then as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, leader of the constitutional convention, and finally, as the first president of the United States. He was practical where most Founding Fathers were idealistic, and had a life so incredibly stacked with activity that I find it impressive that he didn't drop dead at 50 like most of the males in his family. He managed to stand above everything, as a sort of overseer of his age. Perhaps that's why even though the book was about George himself, it read more like an overview of the times; sometimes it is hard to remember that he was a person, since so much of what we know of him comes through formal letters, bizarre rumors, and idealized images. What a pity that his wife burned all their correspondence; the letters would have probably helped us paint a more human portrait of Washington. Regardless of all this, he truly was a visionary, with an at times (not always) stunningly clear judgement, and without him the U.S. would have probably never been formed, lacking the necessary unifier that people loved and revered regardless of ideology or partisanship.
  bartt95 | Jan 15, 2017 |
His Excellency is a near perfect introduction to the life and times of President George Washington. Joseph J. Ellis masterfully condenses the life of an extraordinary revolutionary leader in under 300 pages. This book provides an overview of the life and times of George Washington without getting too bogged down in the details. The only issue is that if you are not a student of the revolutionary period in American History you may need to exercise your search skills in order to remind yourself of various battles, treaties and historical figures that did not stick to your brain pan after high school.

One of the interesting points I did not remember from earlier study of this period in history was that political corruption was already in full swing at the genesis of our democracy. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were both playing the system, the people and the president to further their personal agendas. This may not be news to others, but for some reason I thought our founding fathers were a bit more honorable. The topic of slavery is a prevailing topic throughout the book. There is much discussion of emancipation and dissolving slavery, but my takeaway here is that though morally wrong, slavery was economically important and would have to be dealt with by future leaders. It is very difficult to comprehend this type of thinking in this day and age.

This was a great re-introduction to the Revolutionary period and Ellis has sparked my interest enough to dive deeper and learn more about the enigmatic General Washington. I highly recommend His Excellency for those looking to learn more about our founding fathers. ( )
1 vote JechtShot | Aug 8, 2016 |
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For W. W. Abbot
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My own relationship with George Washington began early. (Preface: The Man in the Moon)
History first noticed George Washington in 1753, as a daring and resourceful twenty-one-year-old messenger sent on a dangerous mission into the American wilderness.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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From the French and Indian War to Mount Vernon, from the American Revolution to the presidency, Ellis delivers what will stand the test of time as the definitive biography of the greatest American icon.

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