Jason's Reviews > His Excellency: George Washington

His Excellency by Joseph J. Ellis
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's review
Jul 23, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, history, politics
Read in August, 2009

A nice look at our first president. Ellis does not attempt a comprehensive history of Washington's entire life, but instead offers an accessible summary of his public character. As a result, the book is refreshingly short for this genre, but what I saved in time I felt I lost in breadth.

However, for its length, Ellis's book has some real depth. I certainly felt that Washington stepped out from behind the folklore and appeared as a real, believable man. Ellis portrays Washington as vain, but able to channel his vanity to safeguard the reputation of his cause. Washington appears hotheaded by nature, but in the end self-composed as a result of constant vigilance.

The book explores Washington's strategic outlook as a general and how his military experience shaped his political outlook. Ellis devotes considerable time to Washington's inner struggle to reconcile his revolutionary ideals with his ownership of other human beings and offers a revealing look at how he arrived at his ultimate solution.

The material here is all quite good, but I would have liked a bit more. Especially with respect to Washington's relationship with other founders, Hamilton in particular. But I believe Ellis covers these matters in other books.

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message 1: by Jared (new)

Jared I thought this was a good one.

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