Lance's Reviews > Being George Washington

Being George Washington by Glenn Beck
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Feb 01, 12

Read in January, 2012

I was given this book as a Christmas present. Given my previous encounters with Beck's work, I don't know that I had any high expectations of what I would find. I find that the more I listen to Beck the more I disagree with him.

That being said, there are some things in which we do agree, and one of them is that George Washington really was an indispensable man because he had virtue. Beck's book is an examination of the life of this man and how virtuous thought and action made this man what he really was. And the book describes various episodes in the life of Washington in which those virtues were demonstrated. Beck details events from Washington's life as he tried to join the navy, fought in the French and Indian War, fought again in the American Revolution, struggled with his attempts to avoid involvement as the Articles of Confederation proved ever more ineffective, and as he lay dying in his bed.

Notably absent is a good deal of Washington's administration as our nation's first president. Beck describes the events leading up to the Constitution very well, but then he skips over Washington's administration and goes straight to the review of his farewell address. But most of Washington's life in other time periods is also left out. Washington's first campaign outside Boston is not even mentioned, and his eventual retreat from New York is given a mere reference.

The point of the book is not to detail a biography of Washington but to extol the virtues that made him that man that he was. And I learned some things about Washington's life that I did not before understand. Beck demonstrates with quotes from original sources that Washington believed in God and that the American nation was founded by God; he often referenced the Invisible Hand that guided and preserved him and his fellow patriots. Washington was a razor's edge away from dealing with a mutiny among his own officers, and yet because his exercise of virtue had gained so much trust with his men he was able to speak to them and avert what might have been a real disaster.

The divisive nature of the political arguments in this country are driving us ever further apart. We are fracturing on both sides of the aisle. What I like about Beck's book --- though I don't always agree with him politically --- is that the gulf that divides us can be bridged if we all have virtue, and particularly the same virtues that Washington exemplified throughout his life. It is for that reason that I recommend the book. We can still disagree about policy if are united in virtuous principles, because those principles lived create trust and honor and respect. Take those away and you get what we have today, rhetoric that is not only divisive but outright hateful. The best way to proclaim peace is to proclaim virtue, and Beck shows by using the life of Washington as an example that the best way to proclaim virtue is to live it.
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