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George Washington

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  458 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Willard Sterne Randall, whose biography of Thomas Jefferson was hailed as “outstanding” by The Wall Street Journal and whose Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor was praised as “riveting” by The New York Times, turns his attention to the founding father of our country—George Washington. Randall tells the fascinating tale of a man who turned an impoverished childhood into a ...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published January 28th 2006 by Galahad (first published 1997)
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Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, this book is amazing. Never before has the real George Washington been presented, and you'll really see what a real-life super hero is all about. If you read any book on Washington, make sure this one is it.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 18, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Better understanding of American history
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gave me a balanced look at George Washington with lots of new info. New info to me anyway.
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read an e-book version of this biography and was disappointed in the number of uncorrected conversion errors. Aside from that, this was a great biography for the reader who is looking for the story of Washington's entire life and not just his presidency or military career. The author presented a balanced view of Washington's life, showing both his failures and his successes. The most important events of his life are covered and there are many selections from Washington's own writing to illustr ...more
Michelle Sampson
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Chuck Heikkinen
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An account of the Washington, the man, in both his private and public life. The narrative of the Revolutionary War and the political battles behind the scenes between the Continental Congress and Washington over supplies and cooperation gives a very different view (from the secondary education history texts I had) of how united the colonies were during the War, and the difficulties that inflicted on the progress of the fighting. It also is enlightening regarding the British commanders' reluctanc ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: presidents
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.
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted so much to like - or at least finish - this reportedly penultimate biography of Washington. And while it was well-researched and written clearly, the tone struck me as a bit over the top. Yes, GW may have been more high strung than down home, but I think I'd have preferred a calmer tone from the words on the page. Of course, if Randall wanted to convey GW's persnickety personality via the tone, then he did a masterful job.
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked 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.
Barbara Buckman
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Roger Wadleigh
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!

May 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All encompassing biography is nothing spectacular but everything I could have ever wanted to know about the father of our country. Honestly he led a more interesting life than I had anticipated. I probably should have expected more.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Could not finish. It was chock full of grammatical and formatting errors. Eventually I couldn't keep reading through them. Additionally, the book was slow.
Sue Hilger
Aug 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Long, arduous read. And yet I wanted to learn about our first president. disappointed.
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it
The author information is, in places, at odds with authors that have written before and after him, but overall it was a good read.
M. Gary Berg
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Too much detail about minor stuff related to Washington.
Christine Cardon
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Not overly entertaining, but added to my affection and admiration of Washington.
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
good overall story of washington. of course i think i would like just about anything covering washington or lincoln.
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Willard Sterne Randall is an American historian and author who specializes in biographies related to the American colonial period and the American Revolution. He teaches American history at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
More about Willard Sterne Randall...

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