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His Excellency: George Washington

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His Excellency: George Washington

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    Available in PDF Format | His Excellency: George Washington.pdf | English
    Joseph J. Ellis(Author)
The author of seven highly acclaimed books, Joseph J. Ellis has crafted a landmark biography that brings to life in all his complexity the most important and perhaps least understood figure in American history, George Washington. With his careful attention to detail and his lyrical prose, Ellis has set a new standard for biography.
Drawing from the newly" "catalogued Washington papers at the University of Virginia, Joseph Ellis paints a full portrait of George Washington s life and career from his military years through his two terms as president. Ellis illuminates the difficulties the first executive confronted as he worked to keep the emerging country united in the face of adversarial factions. He richly details Washington s private life and illustrates the ways in which it influenced his public persona. Through Ellis s artful narration, we look inside Washington s" "marriage and his subsequent entrance into the upper echelons of Virginia s plantation society. We come to understand that it was by managing his own" " large debts to British merchants that he experienced firsthand the imperiousness of the British Empire. And we watch the evolution of his attitude toward slavery, which led to his emancipating his own slaves in his will. Throughout, Ellis peels back the layers of myth and uncovers for us Washington in the context of eighteenth-century America, allowing us to comprehend the magnitude of his accomplishments and the character of his spirit and mind."
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When Washington died in 1799, Ellis tells us, " "he was eulogized as first in the hearts of his countrymen. Since then, however, his image has been chisled onto Mount Rushmore and printed on the dollar bill. He is on our landscape and in our wallets but not, Ellis argues, in our hearts. Ellis strips away the ivy and legend that have grown up over the Washington statue and recovers the flesh-and-blood man in all his passionate and fully human prowess.
In the pantheon of our republic s founders, there were many outstanding individuals. And yet each of them Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison acknowledged Washington to be his superior, the only indispensable figure, the one and only His Excellency. Both physically and politically, Washington towered over his peers for reasons this book elucidates. "His Excellency" is a full, glorious, and multifaceted portrait of the man behind our country s genesis, sure to become the authoritative biography of George Washington for many decades."

"Mr. Ellis gives us a succinct character study while drawing on his extensive knowledge of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary history to strip away the accretions of myth and contemporary extemporizing that have grown up around his subject. ... Mr. Ellis refuses to judge Washington by "our own superior standards of political and racial justice" but instead tries to show how Washington was seen in his day. In doing so he gives us a visceral understanding of the era in which the first President came of age, and he shows how Washington's thinking (about the war for independence, the shape of the infant nation and the emerging role of the federal government) was shaped by his own experiences as a young soldier in the French and Indian War and as a member of the Virginia planter class. The resulting book yields an incisive portrait of the man, not the marble statue. . . "His Excellency" is a lucid, often shrewd take on the man Mr. Ellis calls the "primus inter pares, the Foundingest Father of them all." And it does so with admirable grace and wit." --Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times""Ellis [writes] with clarity and grace. He has a gift for reaching a broad public with substantive books on serious subjects. In ["His Excellency"], he has done it again. This is an important and challenging work: beautifully written, lively, serious, and engaging... He has given us a book that will inspire other research, it will deepen our understanding of its subject." --David Hackett Fischer, "Boston Sunday Globe" "[Ellis's] probing biographies remain some of the most psychologically penetrating portraits of the Founding Fathers that we have. ["His Excellency"] is full of subtle inroads into the man Ellis calls the "most notorious model of self-control in all of American history, the original marble man."-Richard Lacayo, "Time" "Ellis skillfully uncomplicates many convoluted subjects, including the real and passionate Washington and the myths constructed around him, the economic and social forces driving him and his fellow revolutionaries.... A distinguished addition." --Celia McGee, "Daily News"Mr. Ellis gives us a succinct character study while drawing on his extensive knowledge of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary history to strip away the accretions of myth and contemporary extemporizing that have grown up around his subject. Mr. Ellis refuses to judge Washington by "our own superior standards of political and racial justice" but instead tries to show how Washington was seen in his day. In doing so he gives us a visceral understanding of the era in which the first President came of age, and he shows how Washington's thinking (about the war for independence, the shape of the infant nation and the emerging role of the federal government) was shaped by his own experiences as a young soldier in the French and Indian War and as a member of the Virginia planter class. The resulting book yields an incisive portrait of the man, not the marble statue. . . "His Excellency" is a lucid, often shrewd take on the man Mr. Ellis calls the "primus inter pares, the Foundingest Father of them all." And it does so with admirable grace and wit. Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times" Ellis [writes] with clarity and grace. He has a gift for reaching a broad public with substantive books on serious subjects. In ["His Excellency"], he has done it again. This is an important and challenging work: beautifully written, lively, serious, and engaging He has given us a book that will inspire other research, it will deepen our understanding of its subject. David Hackett Fischer, "Boston Sunday Globe"[Ellis s] probing biographies remain some of the most psychologically penetrating portraits of the Founding Fathers that we have. ["His Excellency"] is full of subtle inroads into the man Ellis calls the most notorious model of self-control in all of American history, the original marble man. Richard Lacayo, "Time"Ellis skillfully uncomplicates many convoluted subjects, including the real and passionate Washington and the myths constructed around him, the economic and social forces driving him and his fellow revolutionaries . A distinguished addition. Celia McGee, "Daily News""

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Book details

  • PDF | 352 pages
  • Joseph J. Ellis(Author)
  • Knopf Publishing Group (Oct. 2004)
  • English
  • 8
  • Biography

Review Text

  • By J. E. Robinson on 24 November 2004

    The author is a well known Pulitzer Prize winner and has written a number of books on American political figures including Thomas Jefferson. Here he presents us with a magnificent but short book on Washington, written for the general reader.There are two things to discuss, i.e.: the book as a book and the story. Some might mildly protest that the book is too short and it is; it is just 275 pages of text and 40 pages of notes plus it has a collection of photos. The book is superbly written. After a short read I found myself already at page 50 and then at page 100 as the pages sped by. It is entertaining, fascinating, and a well written story. It is a pleasure to read and is really a quick light read that can be accomplished in a few days. It is far from being a long and complicated biography. It is an easy to read book aimed at the average general reader, and the author should take a lot of pride in the book.The story is really very fascinating. The author uses a very conservative approach and relies mainly on hard facts and writings from various historical documents. He tries to avoid using Washington's notes that were edited by Washington in the late 1780's to 1790's. The author Ellis does not bridge any gaps with fiction as say Anthony Burgess did in his Shakespeare biography. It is just the facts but superbly packaged in a fascinating story.Since the story is very accurate and relies on the public record, it skips the George Washington childhood and starts with Washington as an officer in the Virginia militia in 1753 fighting in western Pennsylvania, known then as Ohio country. Interestingly, at that time that military action was a disaster but Washington survived with his reputation.The book is a combination of his personal life mixed in with his public life. It is broken down roughly into four sections. First we have the young Colonel Washington fighting the Indians and French in the Ohio valley in the 1750's. This is followed by a brief section on his management of his and his wife's estates in Virginia, and his first encounters in politics. That is the first 60-70 pages and takes to the early 1770's. That experience solidifies his anti British views and leads to his interest in what follows in later years.The third section involves his handling of the war of independence that went on for approximately 8 years until the early 1780's. It starts for Washington with the Continental Congress and his taking charge of the troops in Cambridge, in Massachusetts (near Harvard), after Bunker Hill. The author describes the other figures such as American General Gates and British Generals Howe and Cornwallis, and the turncoat Arnold, and Lafayette etc and he describes the general flow of the war. We read about the loss of New York, the American victory at Saratoga, the dashing clashes near Trenton and Princeton, the misery at Valley Forge, other defeats, the alliance with the French and then the fortuitous victory at Yorktown by the Americans where they snatched victory from the looming jaws of defeat.The last section - that some will think too short - is his role as the first President. He served for two terms and oversaw the defining legislation of the new republic and the construction of Washington DC, as it was later named. We learn briefly about his interactions with Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, and others, and we learn of his views on slavery.All in all this is an excellent book and a fascinating introduction to George Washington, a fighter, manager, and superb politician. As you will read, Washington was not a highly educated person but a self educated manager, general and politician. He was not a talker but let his actions speak for themselves. Above all he was a man of integrity, a seasoned citizen, a business man, a nation builder, a man with a plan, a man of action who rode a big white horse, adored by the people and woe to his political foes. He was voted to the Virginia delegation of the Continental Congress with 96% of the vote and won all electoral votes when he ran for President. Truly an unusual man.It is a must read, and an obvious 5 stars.

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