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George Washington: The Founding Father (Eminent Lives)
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George Washington: The Founding Father (Eminent Lives)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  390 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews

By far the most important figure in the history of the United States, George Washington liberated the thirteen colonies from the superior forces of the British Empire against all military odds, and presided over the production and ratification of a constitution that (suitably amended) has lasted for more than two hundred years. Yet today Washington remains a distant figur

Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published May 31st 2005)
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Jun 30, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"Washington remains a remote and mysterious figure. He puzzled those who knew and worked with him, and who often disagreed violently about his merits and abilities. He puzzles us. No man's mind is so hard to enter and dwell within."
― Paul Johnson, George Washington


Paul Johnson's micro-biography of George Washington is one of the first in HarperCollins’ “Eminent Lives” series of biographies "by distinguished authors on canonical figures." I first picked this book up with Christopher Hitchens' Emi
Samer Zydia
جورج واشنطن ...كنت ولا أزال مفتونا بهذه الشخصية من شخصيات أيام الصبا والحقيقة منذ قرأت كتاب المئة الاوائل لمايكل هارت

حاولت "وطبعا لا أزال" ان اجد شخصا يمكن أن أتشبه به ووجدت أنه اذا استثنينا الأنبياء لأني لا أستطيع أن اكون نبيا فقد ختمت النبوة واستثنينا الذين حباهم الله بمقدرة استثنائية "معجزة الموهبة" والتي لم أجدها لدي إلى الان

فكان جورج واشنطن مثالا جيدا فهو كسيرة حياه شخص عادي ولكنه متميز ...فضلا عن أنه مؤسس أمريكا وما أدراك ما أمريكا

للأسف كانت نسختي الالكترونية ناقصة ولكني تممت الاجزاء ال
Mar 01, 2009 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the years, I have read several volumes of Paul Johnson, and I have enjoyed his easy and readable style. He does not disappoint in his small volume on George Washington. The father of our country is revealed as a man of wisdom, great character and leadership. Johnson depicts Washington in a variety of roles—soldier, farmer, commander, leader of the Constitutional Convention, president, and entrepreneur.

Thanks to my education, I always had a better grasp on the intellectual founding of Ameri
Feb 18, 2011 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is a nice little book to get at the meat of Washington's life by an excellent historian.

George Washington's church attendance was 50% or less. He was impatient with long sermons and never read religious works. In twenty volumes of correspondence, there is not a single mention of Christ. In no surviving letter of his youth does the name Jesus appear, and only twice thereafter. "Providence" occurs more frequently than God. He was more inclined to freemasonry than to Christianity.

He was a se
Mar 07, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
I cannot imagine a better succinct overview of George Washington’s life and impact.
Oct 09, 2014 Steven rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
This is the 3rd book in the Eminent Lives series I’ve read and the first one that seems to suffer from its short format. Much of that is due to the author though. He made the case for certain things without supporting them with Washington’s own words, as in the interpretation of how the 1st amendment pertains to religion. Johnson spent 2 pages going over how Washington viewed America as a Christian nation beholden to a god without backing that up with any quotes. And that whole bit seemed to sma ...more
Susan B.
This book might seem like an odd choice, but I'm writing a paper on YouTube treatments of masculinity, paternity, and the Founding Fathers, so I had to get a good sense of the original biographical lore being parodied (And hey, tomorrow is President's Day, so the timing seemed especially good :) The basic thesis of the paper is that mash-ups and parodic treatments of these topics on the intenet can help us to move beyond stale scholarly debates about the Founding, providing an interesting, popul ...more
Anthony Cimitile
What made me choose this book, was curiosity. Because during school I didn't really learn much on this president, so I wanted to learn more about him. I also chose this book, because I thought that it looked like a good read, not too long, not too short, and I in turn liked reading about this president.
One thing that I liked about this book, was that it didn't just talk about George Washington during his presidentcy, but it also talked about him before and after he was President. I liked that t
Erez Davidi
This is a decent introduction of Washington covering most important events of his political life, while ignoring most of Washington's private life. Johnson's conservative and Tory ideology is fairly visible throughout this short introduction, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but one ought to keep it mind. (I don't really believe a historian can be truly unbiased since everyone is shaped by his education and life events). I also found his bias against Jefferson quite amusing; Johnson is cons ...more
Jul 24, 2007 Bethany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in a quick biography of GW
Despite his godlike aura in American political mythology, George Washington was, in the opinion of the excellent historian Paul Johnson, a rather neglected figure. Though countless volumes have been written about this father of the country, no one reads them because they are COUNTLESS VOLUMES. Johnson decided to write a quick but still insightful biography of GW that might actually get read and would hopefully deepen our understanding of the man behind the myth. He accomplished that objective, b ...more
Jun 06, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
This generally complimentary biography of Washington is fairly brief but hits all the major points of his life. It's an interesting read for someone who doesn't want to go deep but get a general sense of Washington's life and the times he lived in.
Mike W
Feb 22, 2013 Mike W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
For those, like me, who are impatient with 800 page biographies that list every detail of a person's life, this book is a relief. In it, Paul Johnson, an eminent British historian, encapsulates the life of a great man succinctly and ably.

Johnson depicts George Washington as prudent and pragmatic--perhaps less erudite than John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, but well-read and thoughtful in his own right. And he was a man of many talents: A capable administrator of his own estate, who managed to mak
Nov 16, 2010 Brad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There can be little doubt that Washington was an immensely influential figure during the formation of the United States, and that his strategic skill in war combined with, at the very least, the great respect afforded to him in affairs of state, were instrumental in the early success of the nascent nation. Johnson, however, in this biography, fails to do the great man justice.

It may be a pet peeve of mine not shared by others, but I found Johnson’s relations of events and people to be distastefu
Jeffrey Zygmont
Jul 13, 2013 Jeffrey Zygmont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very short and digestible biography of one of the most important figures in the history of the world. Indeed, you could make the argument that Washington is the most important figure in the history of the world, or at least the most important military and political figure.

It gets back to the famous quote by England's King George III after Washington's ragtag Continental Army finally defeated the British, at the time the most formidable military power on earth. I'll quote the passage a
The only fault I found with this book was that the author could of added more details of Washington's life. An increase of 50 pages plus over the current 125 would be nice. Other than that small criticism I thought Mr. Johnson's book on George Washington was excellent. The author covered Washington's career, from the early time when he was a surveyer, his service in the French and Indian War, and then he moved into Washington's command of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and the ...more
Feb 20, 2016 Glen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insightful read that focuses on the man and not so much on the larger narrative of American Independence. Johnson offers his usual skills of interpreting historical facts by delving into the personal writings and eyewitness accounts of critical moments in Washington's public life.

There is ample attention given to Washington's concept of limited power and his abhorrence of slavery. The book also gives strong analysis of how America's first commander-in-chief managed the war effort and the tran
Jul 13, 2011 Booker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This slender volume outlines the major events that shaped Washington's upbringing, military and political career. At the heart of each of these was Washington's character as the guiding principle during America's impressionable beginnings. A contrast is often drawn between Washington's behavior and that of another strong personality, Napoleon. And, as a result of the difference in how each man chose to carry himself, the countries themselves went in different directions. The section on the Ameri ...more
Rachel Boling
Feb 13, 2012 Rachel Boling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoires, poli-sci
This was a brief, and perhaps biased, portrayal of George Washington. The major points of George Washington's life, and his involvement in the development of America, were discussed. The author would sometimes refer to arguments made by those who review George Washington in a negative light, and then explain why they were incorrect.

While most of the book talked about the good things that George Washington did, the author did say that he believed failing to abolish slavery was George Washington's
Oct 03, 2011 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short (123 pages) biography of Washington from the Eminent Lives series is just the ticket for someone wanting a concise, yet interesting, look at our first president. I came away with a real sense of the interests and values as well as the experiences of Washington. The bonuses were understanding his approach to winning the Revolution and a look into the relationships of some of our more prominent founding fathers during the early years of our nation. I like biographies but they are often ...more
Rob Lever
Jul 12, 2013 Rob Lever rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, history
Enjoyable in its brevity and its openness to actually promote a pro-founding father biographical opinion, more meaningful given Johnson's British citizenship and heritage. What the piece picks up in brevity (123 pages) and patriotism, it lacks in details and critical analysis of Washington's key decisions, positions, and socio-political context. Johnson's love for Washington is balanced by his open disdain for Jefferson and contempt for Adams. At the end of the day, a good starter piece on Washi ...more
Martin Whatwouldthefoundersthink
This was a pretty disappointing book. It was based solely on secondary sources and really had no insights to offer.

Johnson is a great writer and historian, but he mailed this one in.

I'd normally say that in a 120 pages, you can't expect too much, but after reading Conor Cruise O'Briens book on Washington, First in Peace. This is clearly not the case.

Skip this, unless you don't want to read the much better Chernow (much longer), or just about any other biography.

This is the first of the Eminent
Margaret Harris
Mar 03, 2016 Margaret Harris rated it it was amazing
A short, concise biography of the foremost Founder of America. Despite studying American history for many years, I learned new aspects of the life of George Washington. Paul Johnson always writes good history, and the publishers of the Eminent Lives Series chose well when he was selected to remind readers of the importance of General-and-then-President Washington to the establishment of the United States of America, and of the example that the private life of George Washington might be to anyone ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A slim and very reader-friendly biography of George Washington. If you haven't read anything about the first president since high school, this is an excellent venue in which to reacquaint yourself with the most eminent and important of the Founding Fathers. He was much more than wooden teeth, the cherry tree and Valley Forge. Come, learn and enjoy. Johnson does him proud, as he does with every other subject he chooses to write about.
Sep 26, 2011 May rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-american
I received this piece from a friend who is a poli-sci history buff. It was interesting to note why Washington was chosen, the combination of his demeanor and his abilities as a leader. It's always fascinating to view the founders as a band of misfits that somehow achieved greatness, led by a true sort of father figure. This is an easy and educational read.
Oct 27, 2011 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read many accounts of Washington and the American Founding, but Paul Johnson has accomplished something unique. More than just the story of his life, this book is an illumination of Washington's character. Our Founding Father seems more like a father figure worthy of every American's love and respect, and less like a stone monument.
Apr 18, 2016 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After recently visiting Mt. Vernon, I wanted to understand more about George Washington. Also, what current scholarship reveals about his life and times. This small book fits those requirements well. Interesting to learn from the book and not the site that 70% of Mt. Vernon's contents are original.
Mar 21, 2013 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a audio CD while working out at the gym. It is part of the Eminant Lives of the Presidents series. It was a good high level biography of Geo Washington ... the man. Short and sweet as is typical of Johnson. But I did learn some new characteristics of Washington in this book. It is worth the effort of reading it.
Mark Valentine
Jan 31, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Johnson's brief biography presents the key details in his life but he also included the political atmosphere of the age and Washington's influence on the writing of the Constitution and the Presidency. For a quick grasp, a summary, or a sense of the man, I recommend it.
Feb 15, 2010 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good book. Almost exactly what I expected. It is very obvious that Johnson does not believe Washington was a Christian, as Peter Lillback's "George Washington's Sacred Fire" clearly showes.
Mark Wilson
Feb 15, 2016 Mark Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brief but potent biography

This short biography hits the high points, and low, of an extraordinary man. Despite its brevity, it certainly told me more than I knew before about his life, and how he got to the pinnacle he later attained. Recommended!
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Paul Johnson works as a historian, journalist and author. He was educated at Stonyhurst School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and Magdalen College, Oxford, and first came to prominence in the 1950s as a journalist writing for, and later editing, the New Statesman magazine. He has also written for leading newspapers and magazines in Britain, the US and Europe.

Paul Johnson has published over 40 books incl
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