Gary Hoggatt's Reviews > His Excellency: George Washington: George Washington

His Excellency by Joseph J. Ellis
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Apr 17, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: biography, all-non-fiction, audiobooks, american-revolution-era, history-bio-18th-century
Read in July, 2011

Ellis does an excellent job of getting you into Washington's head by focusing on his personality and providing insightful excerpts from Washington's voluminous correspondence. Rather than focusing on names, dates, troop movements or legislation signed, Ellis concerns himself with Washington's own experience as he marched into history. You really get a good idea of how he felt about fighting a war without a real national government to support the army, the splintering of his Cabinet and the early formation of political parties, or the long struggle of what he ought to do with his slaves at Mount Vernon.

The times Washington lived in are also well-illuminated through his experiences. From his experiences as a Virginia planter and his own personal pre-Revolution economic relationship with England, to the post-Revolution concerns of Washington's opponents about a standing army or "monarchism," you really get a vivid picture of what the America of the 18th century was like.

Through this personal focus and the frequent use of Washington's own words, the man himself really comes alive in Ellis' hands, seeming more flesh and blood than marble monument, and - though as a history we know the outcome - it's as gripping a narrative as any good novel. The narration by Nelson Runger on the audio version is also quite good.

If you have any interest in American history or biographies, you'd be well-served by reading this book, and if you like audio books, you won't be disappointed in the audio production.
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