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epub pdf His Excellency: George WashingtonAuthor Joseph J. Ellis –

To This Landmark Biography Of Our First President, Joseph J Ellis Brings The Exacting Scholarship, Shrewd Analysis, And Lyric Prose That Have Made Him One Of The Premier Historians Of The Revolutionary Era Training His Lens On A Figure Who Sometimes Seems As Remote As His Effigy On Mount Rush, Ellis Assesses George Washington As A Military And Political Leader And A Man Whose Statue Like Solidity Concealed Volcanic Energies And EmotionsHere Is The Impetuous Young Officer Whose Miraculous Survival In Combat Half Convinced Him That He Could Not Be Killed Here Is The Free Spending Landowner Whose Debts To English Merchants Instilled Him With A Prickly Resentment Of Imperial Power We See The General Who Lost Battles Than He Won And The Reluctant President Who Tried To Float Above The Partisan Feuding Of His Cabinet His Excellency Is A Magnificent Work, Indispensable To An Understanding Not Only Of Its Subject But Also Of The Nation He Brought Into Being

10 thoughts on “His Excellency: George Washington

  1. says:

    This was the first of two books I m currently reading about George Washington As part of my 2 year quest to read the top two biographies of each of our 43 U.S Presidents, I began with this and Ron Chernow s behemoth Washington A Life, a far comprehensive treatment.Initially I preferred Chernow s book, but as I started to compare the two for interpretation, Ellis s gorgeous narrative writing quickly won me over While no where near the depth of Chernow s tome, Ellis covers all the main themes of Washington s life from youth, to bumbling but ambitious officer in the French and Indians wars, to much maligned, beleaguered Revolutionary war hero, to his service as President and truly father of his new nation for the first two terms of the new federal government whose survival was by no means guaranteed.It s impossible to not be in awe of Washington, who, unlike many great men throughout history, failed to control ambition and its interaction with the achievement of great power He truly was a man of disciplined self control who understood throughout his life that his place in history would be solely judged by how he responded to guiding the post British new nation It is quite obvious that had Washington chosen to serve as an enlightened King of which many understood there was no such thing , he could have with widespread support The new nation had no tradition of democracy and would have gladly welcomed their war hero our first true national celebrity as a welcomed benign sovereign chastened by a revolutionary re definition of the relationship of power between ruler and ruled.Yet Washington understood the historic moment and his place in it and seized it for the better, much to our nation s historic benefit He also understood the blot of human bondage and was determined to free his slaves upon his death, much to the chagrin of his family and fellow Virginia planters In fact, even the liberty obsessed Jefferson failed to match Washington s intellectual acknowledgement of the fundamental contradiction of slavery and democracy A highly pleasurable read and the perfect introduction to the life and times of George Washington Highly recommend it.

  2. says:

    In His Excellency, Joseph Ellis has written a very readable and concise synopsis on the life of George Washington Though recognizable for his works Founding Brothers and American Sphinx about Thomas Jefferson , Ellis successfully undertakes the task of illuminating probably the most important figure in American history Probably the most apparent burden struck by Ellis, and a theme readily illusive throughout his book, is the author s effort to avoid what he terms a certain hyperbolic syndrome that is usually associated with any critical discussion of George Washington In his introduction, Ellis rhetorically asks how we can accurately map the terrain of Washington s life without imposing the impossible expectations Ellis appropriately warns that when examining Washington, if we find ourselves being merely celebratory, or its judgmental twin, dismissive, we should rub our eyes and look again Ellis thereby begins with the premise that, as a biographer, anyone ought to begin their quest looking for a man rather than a statute, and any statutes that are encountered should be quickly knocked off their pedestals Ellis effectively wipes the Washington slate clean he begins tabla rasa and ultimately does a great job at painting a portrait of Washington that, not coincidentally, is akin to other statutesque conclusions previosuly concluded by others My one complaint with the book involves the author s style Often times, Ellis will draw conclusions about Washington s character and or ideology which are based on statements to the effect of all of the evidence points to thus In coming across these repeated affirmations, I found myself wanting to know the details wanting for Ellis to specifically delineate the evidence Overall though, the author does a great job of inserting Washington s own words and the words of his peers and the book is adequately footnoted On a positive note, Ellis, as with every good biography, deviates from the comfortable, all too common, historical narrative chronology i.e., X happened, then Y happened, and after that Z happened Instead, at appropriate times, Ellis grasps certain themes throughout the book and interesting weaves them into the narrative coming back to them repeatedly For example and probably most importantly , one prominent topic throughout the book involved Washington s philosophy regarding slavery At certain points in the book, Ellis illuminates Washington s then current view on the topic, or appropriately Washington s wrestle with and evolving view on the institution Though anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Washington knows that he ulitmately emancipated his slaves upon Martha s death via his will, Ellis does an outstanding job in ellucidating the nuances of Washington s ever evolving philosophy His Excellency is a great starting point for any study of the life of George Washington Again Joseph Ellis has demonstrated his ability to bring a larger than life historical figures to a wide audience I would highly recommend this book.

  3. says:

    I wish that biographies were 270 pages I find that nonfiction is a commitment for me I read and absorb it much slowly Most biographies of people that I m marginally interested in, then, become totally unrealistic reads His Excellency George Washington creates a compelling portrait of one of the most idealized heroes of American history, and it does so while remaining readable This is a great introduction to Washington scholarship, and an even better portrait of a complex man.Ellis covers the entirety of Washington s life, sketching out the young soldier, the revolutionary general, and the president Washington seemed to lead a charmed life by rights, he should have died early, in the crushing battles at Monongahela during the French and Indian War But no matter how many battlefields he rode across or how many political tensions threatened to crush the American experiment, Washington persevered on the correct side of history He s described a few times as prescient, and he even semi accurately predicts the War of 1812 Washington s life and 17th century American politics are almost interchangeable here, and Ellis does a great job of narrating how Washington was shaped by his extraordinary experiences.My favorite section of this book was Washington s presidency Reading about the origins of the two party system was especially appropriate this weekend, and it was also interesting to watch two future presidents scheme against their own cabinet Jefferson the original SNAKE IN THE GRASS The personalities of this period are no less fascinating in passing, and it s crazy to understand how much power Washington wielded in early America As Jefferson notes to Madison, Washington on horseback trumped anything the opposition could muster If he hadn t been so concerned with his mark on history, Washington could have easily been the first benevolent ruler of a much different society.

  4. says:

    his trademark decision to surrender power as commander in chief and then president, was nota sign that he had conquered his ambitions, but rather that he fully realized that all ambitions were inherently insatiable and unconquerable He knew himself well enough to resist the illusion that he transcended human nature Unlike Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell before him, and Napoleon, Lenin, and Mao after him, he understood that the greater glory resided in posterity s judgment If you aspire to live forever in the memory of future generations, you must demonstrate the ultimate self confidence to leave the final judgment to them And he did Joseph J Ellis, His Excellency George Washington A good Ellis Probably 3.5 stars Like with American Sphinx The Character of Thomas Jefferson Ellis knows his subject has been written about before and probably better He isn t looking to redo or modernize the biography of George Washington He only wants to do a couple things He wants to narrowly explore the character of George Washington AND write a slick and easily digestible biography that will sell well I know this sounds a bit harsh, but Ellis, while an academic historian, aims both bigger and smaller He wants to be read He wants to be bought So, his biographies and histories tend to be smaller, easier to digest, and built to be sold on the Costco book tables That isn t a bad thing Joseph Ellis is in the same shelf as that popular pantheon of Founding biographers Walter Isaacson, Jon Meacham, David McCullough, Edmund Morris, Ron Chernow and Doris Kearns Goodwin He seems to be center mass of this group Not as solid as Chernow or Morris, not as slick as Meacham or Isaacson Anyway, my only real complaint about this biography is stylistic I hated, HATED, his periodic asides he called them Sittings I almost dropped a star just because of those Ugh It reminded me of the trend with weeklies or newspapers of blocking a quote from the text callouts But this was worse It was done like a third person observation of George Washington They were uneven and just kinda stupid and weak They weren t necessary, were distracting, and diminished the text.

  5. says:

    in the United StatesHow to religion has been one of the presidential campaigns of a leading candidate for the presidential in the United States, I decided to withdraw this text of a Web site The overwhelming majority of the 44 American presidents were religious And all Christians Only three of them Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln were not affiliated to any church Most presidents belonged to the Episcopal Church, including George Washington The Presbyterian Church had eight presidents Most of the rest is divided between various Protestant churches such as Baptists, Methodists and other Protestant Interestingly, the greatest American religious group, the Catholics, only had a President John F Kennedy elected in 1960.However, and contrary to what one might think, the religious movements have always maintained a separation with politics This until 1976, when the Southern Evangelical communities are actively involved in the presidential campaign, to support enthusiastically the Baptist Jimmy Carter In the following decade, with Ronald Reagan and the New Right New Right , these evangelical movements approached decisively the Republican Party, winning an undeniable weight in its support base It is believed that today account for about 1 3 of the electorate of the primary of the Republican Party.

  6. says:

    After thoroughly enjoying Dallek s 2017 biography about FDR, I wanted to go back and read about the other two of the Big Three, Washington and Lincoln Reading here and there on the web, I understood that Joseph Ellis His Excellency following his excellent Pulitzer winning Founding Brothers was considered among the best in class I plan to read Cherow s biography of Washington soon as well.In His Excellency, Ellis paints the great general and first president as an imposing physical presence whose enduring legacy reaches Demi god status but who nonetheless had a checkered record He participated in an early massacre of Indians during the French Indian War in the 1750s, was a southern plantation owner and therefore owned slaves , and actually lost battles in the Revolutionary War than he won However, he had a level of persistence and conviction that was nearly superhuman which helped him rise above internecine politics and keep the larger picture in mind the founding of a new nation independent from English colonialism The book does a great job of bringing out the known facts about GW and explaining how the man became the legend I guess the thing I appreciated the most was how easy it would have been for Washington to pull a Napolean like move and become an emperor following his victory at Yorktown It would have been that easy and he would hardly have been blamed His nemesis during the war, King George III actually said that he would be the greatest of men if he stepped away after the victory at Yorktown and this is precisely what he did The book, of course, continues to draw the picture of the rest of his life his semi retirement, his being coaxed into being President, his being coaxed into a second term, his decision once again, in the greatest of men mode to step down after the second term, and the end of his life He was a truly remarkable person despite having left little correspondence for history to judge him his wife Martha burned all of their letters to each other immediately after his death unfortunately In short, His Excellency is highly readable and a great way to discover this icon of American history in all his incredible humanity.

  7. says:

    First response Ellis pontificates beyond my comfort level I enjoy grand sentences, but this is way to much His flourishing, over bloated style does little to represent Washington who, Ellis admits, was not a high intellectual He definitely covers the highs and lows, but he offers an incredible amount of personal opinion and unsubstantiated analysis, and even second guesses motives I am glad to know about Washington s life, and to have insight about him, but I have enjoyed very little of this book Unfortunately, I am reading directly after finishing John Adams and Team of Rivals, and it does not compare.

  8. says:

    I m glad I read this book, but I m glad I m finished it too I m not sure if I ll read any others by this author He interjects too much of his own opinions and spent lots of time denigrating his subject Although I learned a lot, it was pretty dry and did not include enough flesh on the bones of history for me No comparison to Walter Isaacson s conversational style, which I read just prior to this Had I not, I may have enjoyed this one a whole lot Now on to John Adams May the force be with me

  9. says:

    3 Stars Good bookLet me start by saying that this has been a rough few days I ll admit I had a hard time reading this because of the current political situation in America I think that put me in a sour mood, especially reading about the presidency Not a fan of a certain and I became quite harsh My tolerance for historical decisions that are rooted in racism and white superiority is nonexistent right now I angrily sped through the last 150 pages not necessarily a reflection of the book Washington but based on my emotional state I m trying not to let that affect my reading of this book but I wanted to put that out there.I appreciate that Ellis is upfront about how we romanticize historical figures but especially Washington Washington has become this untouchable figure in American history and I m guilty of romanticizing him as well He was by no means perfect but he was horrible either We need to understands all sides of the person before we can really make a decision about their character.I had a problem with Ellis s discussion of Washington s slaves Not the facts but how he analyzed them I know he owned slaves and that s part of the problem when people romanticize him, they forget that But Ellis seems to be stating the facts and then trying to justify it by saying well, Washington didn t treat them horribly In fact, he treated them well and he really only say it as business, nothing personal When Ellis does this, it seems to take away from his goal to deromanticize Washington Overall, it s a short and relatively concise biography It s not hard to read but is heavy on the facts.

  10. says:

    He was that rarest of men a supremely realistic visionary A brilliant politician with a moral compass and the ability to imagine the judgements of posterity Like Lincoln, like Grant and the three are companions on an old Cuban cigar box lid, Los Inmortales To me Washington seems a heroic template for Lincoln and Grant, showing how one disciplines a truly monumental personal ego and a massive personal agenda and, in Grant s case, a primal ease in violence to larger national interests, to themes of the common good All three saw their opportunity in failing systems and were quick to pounce they used their opportunity to establish and restore the United States none established dynasties Washington very purposefully so, sterile, he minced his estate among many heirs and freed his slaves Washington s powers of judgement derived in part from the fact that his mind was uncluttered with sophisticated intellectual preconceptions cue, for contrast, Jefferson and his fatuous self deception, his agile intellectual masturbation the self Washington made was less protean and primal because his education was elemental, the education of an adventurer and soldier Without ever reading Thucydides, Hobbes, or Calvin, he had concluded that men and nations were driven by interests rather than ideals, and that surrendering control to another was invariably harmful, often fatal.