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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2011
Let me preface this review by stating that I do not like Glenn Beck. When I heard that he has written a book about George Washington, I purchased it to pounce upon him. After reading it, I need to give him some applause because he has changed my perspectives somewhat.

I agree completely with Beck in that smaller decisions add up over time to forge a person's character. He showcased that with Washington; so in a sense, he proved his thesis. As a former history teacher, I had to improvise in order to authenticate the written word for my modern students. The stylistic format provided life to the scenes of Washington in the army. The picture he painted of Valley Forge with the non-English speaking Baron von Steuben was rather entertaining. My favorite part of the book surrounded Benedict Arnold and the hanging of the British traitor Major John Andre. That entire section was fascinating and enthralling!

In critiquing the work, I found those interspersed gray boxes quirky, which were often reserved for his political discourses. They disrupted the flow of the work and should have been reserved for the end of the chapters. Potentially, the editors believed that information would have been neglected. My biggest gripe, however, is within the scholarship. Without the commensurate citations, it was difficult to judge which of these events were fact or fiction (i.e. artistic license with a story). The other issue was the constant jumping around in that last section -- from colonial days, to presidential, to after the presidency, back to War times, to Constitutional Convection, etc. That part became somewhat cumbersome.

All in all, this book was better than I expected. He does make a case for principled leadership. With all that is going on in our world today, we do need individuals to stake clear positions without apology rather than being concerned about re-election. That lesson, for sure, can be learned from our first President. As my subject says, take up that challenge and be an authentic you in this fake world we inhabit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2013
While the liberals, socialist, communists, and progressives persist in rewriting our history, in the manner of the Soviets, we need people like Glenn Beck that will reach into our neglected archives of truth and renew America's knowledge of its glorious past as well as some of our not so glorious moments.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2011
This review was written as an answer to a sincere question by "College Student" on another amazon thread as to whether the book was [historical] fiction or non-fiction:

The book is somewhat unique and does not fit comfortably into any genre, but if I had to pick, I would go with the NY Times designation of "non-fiction".

Example: In the first episode, the ambush of General Braddock's force on the way to Fort Duquesne, looking at the mortally wounded Braddock, Beck writes: "The colonel [i.e. Washington] shook his head in shame. He should have been more urgent in his warnings about how they would fight." Did Washington actually warn Braddock and was ignored? The historical evidence is mixed. Did he feel shame? Very possibly. So this view into Washington's mind is plausible, but not strictly historical; hence an example of historical fiction.

Example: In Chapter 3 Beck starts out, "Lets talk about soldiers and shoes." There follows an explanation of the historical situation (crossing the Delaware) where the soldiers had no shoes but great determination, interspersed with Beck's opinions in shaded boxes "I know I'm harping quite a bit on the shoe thing, but it's just so incredible." Then follows a section on the importance of character, Washington's faith in God, etc., complete with appropriate quotes (vaguely sourced, e.g. "...in 1776 he wrote to Congress").

So just what is this style to be called? Beck interweaves historical narrative, plausible speculation, his opinions and commentary on character, with applications to today, and even a few cute quips (see p. 37 on the modern juxtaposition of George Washington Bridge and Fort Lee). The book is about how you and I can be as great as Washington (in our own worlds) by practicing his virtues of honor, steadfastness, and faith. In other words, it is about character building ("Being George Washington"), with illustrations from Washington/s life, but not a standard biography of Washington.

SUMMARY: This is a popular work, not academic, and this IS NOT A BIOGRAPHY OF WASHINGTON. It is Beck's beliefs about the practical value of virtues such as honor and faith, with illustrations from Washington's life.

Update: The reasons for 4 star rather than 5 star was expressed by Troy William below far better than I was able to say: "My 4 star rating is simply for the fact that the book is historical fiction in so far as the conversations and many of the attributed thoughts are simple products of the author's imagination. The additions do not detract from the actual history and truthfully enhance the readability of the book. The additions are not, however, actual history, they are inferences based on the author's understanding of the characters involved."

All in all, while this is not an academic work or a biography of Washington, it is an excellent read that I would recommend for everyone, especially high school students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2014
I got this book for Christmas from my parents. They know I am a George Washington fan and enjoy books on him. I was a bit skeptical on the authorship by Glenn Beck - What were his motives? So I thanked I thought just read it with a grain of salt...I opened the book during the "reading time" (books coffee, hot chocolate, tea) after presents to look interested and it grabbed me. This is a very interesting read. Keep in mind much of the dialogue is imagined, but it could be close to what was said in some cases. Also, there is a political slant to the book - but this is dialed down and I believe that it can apply to the left as well as the right.
If you are expecting a Joel Olsteen style book - this is not it. Beck has written more of an encomium to George Washington and challenges the reader and himself to live up to the good qualities that made the first president of the nation. The book is packed with accounts (all true) of the life of Washington. There are some facts in Becks book which historians will bicker and argue over, such as Washington's prayer at Valley Forge, what was possibly said where, etc. The book is a good read, just keep in mind - especially if you hold a certain view of Washington, that it might differ from your own. Either way the book is very accurate despite the dialogue, and the facts people tend to argue over. The book is a good read as well, Beck made several events (especially the Battle of Trenton) come alive.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2011
Readers should know that I rarely think any book is worthy of 5-stars, so a 4-star rating from me is pretty darn good!

Glenn uses the genre of "historical fiction" to present some worthwhile information about our first president. As is typical with this type of approach, real historical events and figures are depicted, but normally these things provide the background to a fictional character's story. In this case, the events are presented from the imagined perspective of the actual historical players. I see that presenting dialogue and thoughts in this fashion has brought some criticism from other readers. While, of course, we can never know precisely what the actual players were saying and thinking, I think Glenn has done a pretty reasonable job coming up with likely dialogue and thoughts. I don't see any case where it takes away from the historical accuracy of the book. And, it certainly makes it a more interesting read, and I don't believe that doing this is in any way out of line.

I wouldn't say this is a "riveting" story. It was a good one and an easy read. It gave me a perspective on Washington and the events of the times that I haven't achieved from studying the normal "dry" history we've all been forced to endure. If you want nitty gritty facts and details about people, places, and times, I would suggest you go back to the dry history. If you want to get to know George Washington the person, this book does as good a job at that as could any expected. And, I actually gained some information that I found interesting - possibly even a bit inspiring. It is a story that would give our kids a better and more valuable understanding of George Washington than anything I've seen in recent school textbooks.

While the book does present an interesting brief history about President Washington, Glenn's real thesis is that George was "just a guy". He worked hard at being a good guy. He did things that any of us could (and should) do. We may never achieve the stature of George Washington, but we too can be good guys. We can live lives of duty and honor. We can love our country and defend the foundation established by the Constitution. It may not be easy to do, but it is necessary if we expect America to be as great as she can be. And we need to elect leaders who strive to be as George Washington was. God help us that we can actually find someone even close to that!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I was hoping for a story the whole way through, but Glenn broke it up with chapters in between describing stuff. The way he built it up it sounded like a story the whole way through. Pretty good though for the most part and enjoyed reading it and learned some stuff.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2012
Beck accomplishes exactly what he wants to in this book, illustrating the fact that our leaders used to be elected based on character rather than on serving special interests.

So much great research was done in this project, and once again Beck shows that he works with a great team in his publishing projects. In Chapters 14-16, SO many of Washington's positions are used to show the relevance to today's politics.

There's just one reason why this book gets 4 stars instead of 5: At least 65% of it is spent on Washington as a wartime general. It is widely known that that is how our first president made his name, but more material on his young life, his presidency, and his role as an everyday citizen would have been nice. Everything comes together in the last few chapters, with so many little-known glimpses into the religiosity and deep cautiousness of Washington's habits.

One piece of advice to the potential reader- PAY ATTENTION to the dates and times at the beginning of each sub-chapter. Sometimes the story can jump only hours at a time, and sometimes it can be decades.
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on January 27, 2013
I enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to read and I learned a few things about the Revolutionary War and Washington that I had not heard before. But what impressed me was how the episodes of his life that were covered showed how this man became a legend in his own time through perseverance, courage, education in all things relevant to his current situation whether at his plantation or on the battle field and his love for his country men. His stature in a time of dark futures made him a shining light to all but his jealous enemies of which there were a few. His patience and understanding of men was developed through many trials and sufferings. He made mistakes as we all do, but he seemed to take them more to heart and try to learn from them. He was not beyond taking great risks however. I know that teaching about Washington has been out of favor for fifty or more years by the politically correct revisionist historians. But do yourself a favor and learn the truth about this great man.
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on March 17, 2013
What reading this book did for me was to get me interested in learning more about George Washington and his era. I found that I really didn't know much about him or the Revolutionary War. But BGW is a difficult book to read because it has no continuity. It is neither a history nor a biography. The constant jumping backwards and forwards in time in the first 15 chapters is both irritating and confusing.

I thought chapter 16 and the conclusion were the most interesting and thought provoking. If you don't read anything else in the book, read the sections in chapter 16 about "Original intent was the only intent," "Making the case," and "A nearly permanent ruling class." The fears the founding fathers had about insidious changes to the constitution and about "career" politicians are being realized before our very eyes. Trust Glenn Beck to bring these things to our attention.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2012
I am on disc three of the audio version and I am enjoying it thus far. I have read the negative reviews and I really think most of those are folks who dislike anything with Beck and those who hate anything to do with American heritage. Washington was a brave man and like every man he had his faults. I've read reviews on here talking about him being evil and a slave owner. I am sorry, but no man is perfect, but if it wasn't for those rebels who fought for freedom, America wouldn't be here today. I think this book highlights Washington's character through some dramatizations that you don't see in other Washington books. For those of you relying on the tainted view of your college professors for true American History, this book isn't for you!
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