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Washington: The Indispensable Man (1974)

by James Thomas Flexner

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1,072919,234 (4.09)12
Biography & Autobiography. History. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:

This "perceptive" and "satisfying" biography of George Washingtonbyan award-winning historian "deserves a place on every American's bookshelf" (The New York Times Book Review).
James Thomas Flexner's masterful four-volume biography of America's first president, which received a special Pulitzer Prize citation and a National Book Award for its concluding installment, is the definitive chronicle of Washington's life and a classic work of American history. In this single-volume edition, Flexner brilliantly distills his sweeping study to offer readers "the most convincing evocation of the man and his deeds written within the compass of one book" (Los Angeles Times).

In graceful and dramatic prose, Flexner peels back the myths surrounding Washington to reveal the true complexity of his character. The only founding father from Virginia to free all his slaves, Washington was a faithful husband who harbored deep romantic feelings for his best friend's wife. An amateur soldier, he prepared for his role as commander in chief of the Continental army by sending out to Philadelphia bookshops for treatises on military strategy. As president, he set many democratic precedents‚??including the two-term limit and the appointment of an advisory cabinet‚??yet routinely excluded his vice president, John Adams, from important decisions.

The George Washington that emerges in these pages is a shrewd statesman, a wise commander, a brave patriot, and above all, "an ordinary man pushed to greatness by the extraordinary times in which he lived" (TheChristian Science Monitor). In tracing Washington's evolution from privileged son of the landed gentry to "the indispensable man" without whom the United States as we know it would not exist, Flexner presents a hero worthy of admiration not only for his remarkable strengths, but also for his all-too-human weaknesses.

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I learned a lot. Washington is far more human to me now, but I like him even better ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
This superior one-volume editon of Flexner's monumental four-volume biography of Washington is both well-written and researched. A fitting biography worthy of its subject, and as close as I've gotten recently to a Presidential page-turner. ( )
  wyclif | Sep 22, 2021 |
"Washington: The Indispensable Man" is full of great information. Based on the author's 4-volume set (!) this covers the main points of most of Washington's life. Unfortunately, I found a good bit of Flexner's writing to be oddly worded and somewhat stuffy. I'm all for not ending sentences in prepositions, but many of his sentences seems to work very hard to follow that rule. There's little casualness to his style which can make for a more arduous read. ( )
  Jarratt | Dec 31, 2017 |
Perhaps Washington was not necessary. Perhaps we would have muddled through without him but it is hard to see how.
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
An excellent one-volume abridgment of Flexner's old multivolume biography of Washington, updated here with a fine and comprehensive array of portraits, paintings, photographs of contemporary objects, full-color maps of battles, and primary source documents referenced in the text. Flexner's account of Washington manages to strip a bit of the demigod veneer off Washington without trashing him. Not quite as good as Chernow's biography, but the illustrations make it a fine and indispensable companion to that biography. I would recommend reading both. (Never read just one biography of a person.) ( )
  tuckerresearch | Jan 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:

This "perceptive" and "satisfying" biography of George Washingtonbyan award-winning historian "deserves a place on every American's bookshelf" (The New York Times Book Review).
James Thomas Flexner's masterful four-volume biography of America's first president, which received a special Pulitzer Prize citation and a National Book Award for its concluding installment, is the definitive chronicle of Washington's life and a classic work of American history. In this single-volume edition, Flexner brilliantly distills his sweeping study to offer readers "the most convincing evocation of the man and his deeds written within the compass of one book" (Los Angeles Times).

In graceful and dramatic prose, Flexner peels back the myths surrounding Washington to reveal the true complexity of his character. The only founding father from Virginia to free all his slaves, Washington was a faithful husband who harbored deep romantic feelings for his best friend's wife. An amateur soldier, he prepared for his role as commander in chief of the Continental army by sending out to Philadelphia bookshops for treatises on military strategy. As president, he set many democratic precedents‚??including the two-term limit and the appointment of an advisory cabinet‚??yet routinely excluded his vice president, John Adams, from important decisions.

The George Washington that emerges in these pages is a shrewd statesman, a wise commander, a brave patriot, and above all, "an ordinary man pushed to greatness by the extraordinary times in which he lived" (TheChristian Science Monitor). In tracing Washington's evolution from privileged son of the landed gentry to "the indispensable man" without whom the United States as we know it would not exist, Flexner presents a hero worthy of admiration not only for his remarkable strengths, but also for his all-too-human weaknesses.

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