Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “George Washington: A Life” as Want to Read:
George Washington: A Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

George Washington: A Life

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  245 ratings  ·  27 reviews
George Washington is the human story of a man who turned an impoverished childhood and the frequent humiliations at the hands of a mother he feared and the British generals he admired into a career of rebellion and creation. When he had worn out and nearly bankrupted his allies, George Washington disbanded the victorious army he had forged and resigned to Congress, giving ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published November 15th 1998 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1997)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about George Washington, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about George Washington

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 498)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This is an excellent, one volume, scholarly approach to the life of George Washington. Writing about Washington, and even reading about him, has its difficulties. You immediately are confronted with the myth of the man, THE founder, who seemingly overlooks the shoulder of every leader since then. You are also confronted with the idea that maybe he is not as great as he has been described, that Washington was simply a poor military leader, slave owner, who happened to be at the right place at the ...more
Aug 02, 2007 Tom rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians
Shelves: biography
This is an excellent Washington biography although probably too in depth for casual readers. Anyone with an interest in American History, Biographies, or World History should read at least one Washington biography in their lives.
If you are looking for the definitive Washington biography, look elsewhere. In 560 pages Randall covers Washington’s entire life from boyhood through the presidency. By packing 60+ years of critical American history into a biographical narrative, many fascinating figures such as Ethan Allen and Henry Knox are given only passing descriptions. Randall avoids cumbersome detail and leaves the reader curios to learn more about the man and the time. By that measure, it is a great biography. I would re ...more
Read this as a young History teacher & used sections of it in my classes to prep my students for their "mock trial" of Benedict Arnold. This particular bio delves into the people in his life & his relationships with many of them.
Kevin Kizer
George Washington's mom was kind of a bitch: she didn't want the States to separate from the Crown and she didn't think her son should be president.
I sought this book out knowing hardly anything about Washington. I was looking for a general understanding of him as a person, not just as a president, founding father, and war hero. This book hit that on the nose. It includes details of the time and about people in his life that make it approachable to people without much foreknowledge of the subject. Since most of those details come from direct sources, mostly letters, conclusions can be drawn without too much objectivity from the author. He m ...more
Michelle Sampson
I really wanted to broaden my book choices and read something non-fiction. I read this last year and can't remember why I picked it up. Nonetheless, some of the book was fascinating. I learned so much about Washington that you don't hear much about. I struggled to finish it though. I can usually get through a book pretty quickly but this one took me a couple of months. The battles he fought, with the exception of the descriptions of the revolutionary war, were difficult to get through. I almost ...more
Trying to read a biography of every president. This was a great one to start - Randall's does a great job of telling a story. Washington was a man with less education than many of the founders but a man with a great code of conduct that he adhered to. He joined the revolution because of money the British were hurting his ability to farm and gain more land. This gave a great overview of his life and worth the read.
An excellent biography chock full of insights and great information that makes our history understandable. For example, how did we get an official separation from Church and State? Without the understanding that the people had to support the official church of England in this nascent country this is hard to understand. So it was not just that people here wanted freedom of religion is was also that they did not want to pay for the establishment religion.
A magnificent bio of George Washington. And very long. It's a shame that (I believe) most of us know next to nothing about this heroic figure. IN fact, I didn't consider him a particularly herooic figure until the book. His myth permeates us blocking out the truth. It's hard to think of him as a real person. But he was, and what an interesting one. What he would think of the US today is pretty obvious and not very pretty.
Barbara Buckman
This was written in a way that better gets you to understand where events in GW's life happened by referring to the locations, roads, etc as they are known now. This book gave insight to GW as a boy to a man, FLAWS AND ALL. He may not have won as many battles as we all may have thought, however, he was very much loved and respected by all.
I learned a lot about George Washington from this book. Think about it, what did you learn about him in school? Not all that much, but he was a pretty amazing guy. Unless you're really, really into history or have some kind of George Washington fetish, I suggest a little lighter reading. I'm a nerd though, so I enjoyed it.
Another enjoyable biography of my favorite president. Mr. Randall presented Washington more as an opportunist through out his career. The book did not focus enough on Washington's presidency. I learned more about Washington's relationship with his mother. Quite interesting the Revolution years and the make-up of the army.
Roger Wadleigh
This is one of the most impressive biographies I've read. We forget, sometimes, who we got our country from.

I registered a book at!

A very comprehensive narrative of GW's life, from start to finish. Great details on some of the battles and on GW's routines. Could tell by reading it that it is not the best book on GW, but nonetheless a great way to learn about him.

Finish date is approx.
This book focuses mainly on Washington during the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars and I wish the author would have focused more on other areas of Washington's life, especially his presidency. But, I overall enjoyed this book.
This is a wonderful book. Not as compelling at McCulloch's Truman, but still a wonderful book. I learned a lot about Washington that I didn't know and the reading was enjoyable without ever being boring or too complex.
There's a lot to cover in a work about Washington giving the author a great deal to work with. Randall does good scholarly work, but manages to keep Washington dry and at a distance.
OK, I didn't really read this book, I am still on page 25 after a year so I will have to attempt my grand goal of reading biographies for all of our presidents at another time :)
The author information is, in places, at odds with authors that have written before and after him, but overall it was a good read.
good overall story of washington. of course i think i would like just about anything covering washington or lincoln.
Christine Cardon
Not overly entertaining, but added to my affection and admiration of Washington.
gave up 120 pages in... military battles rarely keep my attention
Marie Sieloff
Recommend this to anyone interested in America's first President
Not the most well known biography of Washington, but very thorough.
M. Gary Berg
Too much detail about minor stuff related to Washington.
My new founding father crush...
jackie is currently reading it
May 05, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • George Washington's War: The Forging of a Revolutionary Leader and the American Presidency
  • General George Washington: A Military Life
  • Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington
  • Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution
  • Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty
  • Victory at Yorktown: The Campaign That Won the Revolution
  • Writings
  • The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
  • Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams
  • An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland
  • For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne had won at Saratoga
  • Lafayette
  • Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750 1800
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity
  • Jefferson and the Rights of Man
  • Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation
  • A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin
Thomas Jefferson Alexander Hamilton Ethan Allen: His Life and Times Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin and His Son

Share This Book