My rating: 2 of 5 stars
As a complete outsider to all things historical when it comes to America, I was hoping for a big fat juicy biography to learn much about this first President of the United States. Sadly, this is not a book for a newbie to take on. Confusing from the start, his early years are given in dribs and drabs which is understandable as he wasn’t a prominent son but still made for a lack of interest in the book. Reading about Washington in his 20’s makes him sound like a lucky brown nose who wanted the glory of a British military rank with no military success to warrant it. Thankfully he improves as he ages, but always it is because he wants his reputation to be good, rather than leading the people because he believed in what he was doing. A proud American, he got there because of the snubbing he got from the British establishment rather than having a fire in his belly that the colonies should make a country in its own right.
This book gives great focus on giving much detail to the War Effort between American colonies and the British Empire and information such as numbers of men in the militia are given often. This book would be something for those interested in the military history of each battle as a general overview of the battles is given in some detail. There is very little about the emotions or choices that Washington makes and why, apart from his never ending need to be admired. Although I’m sure that for the military minded there really isn’t enough detail in the history for those that way inclined.
It gives detailed accounts of the set up of both the United States Constitution and the actual governmental offices. If you lack a strong background in USA political history, this book will leave you confused as it jumps from one person of note to another, such as jumping from Jefferson to Hamilton in a few sentences. Great swathes of chapters are taken up with discussing the national debt and how to fairly share the responsibility for paying the loans back with almost no part given to Washington’s involvement.
George Washington. Reluctant leader. Bad military leader who often won by sheer luck rather than brilliant tactics. Bad public speaker. Not known for his conversational skills. Willing to endure opposition. Self grandiose about his reputation. These are just some of the impressions one gets from this piece.
This book tends to make for dry reading. Of its factual standing there are over 50 pages of notes and many different sources highlighted including both primary and secondary sources.
Its just not a great book for a novice.