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George Washington: A Life Paperback – Bargain Price, November 15, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (November 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080505992X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805059922
  • ASIN: B005FOHU9K
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,658,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

To most people George Washington is a mysterious icon, the man on the dollar who we know about mostly because of mythical exploits. This substantial biography of the first American president succeeds in portraying Washington as a man with a keen mind and sharp temper who overcame great adversity. In particular, George Washington is valuable for its telling of the story of Washington's early life. How the frontier surveyor took to a military career, failed at it, and eventually redeemed himself as a great leader of the American Revolution is an engrossing story that may be surprising to many who think they know about Washington, but mostly know just the myths. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Randall, whose previous biographies (e.g., Benedict Arnold: Patriot, LJ 7/90; Thomas Jefferson: A Life, LJ 8/93) have enjoyed commercial success, has now joined the long list of biographers of Washington. Because the ground of the great Virginian's life has been so thoroughly plowed over the two centuries since his death, any new attempt should either bring the reader new insights into Washington's character or be so well written as to new-mint the familiar. This account does neither. Randall's writing is lively enough, but he has not rethought Washington's life in any imaginative way, preferring to write off the top of other biographies. In at least one case, his unattributed reliance on another's work borders on the extreme. In addition, there are enough careless errors that scholars will find the book unreliable. For instance, Patrick Henry did not represent Augusta County, Georgia; McGillivray's visit to New York took place well after Washington's contretemps with the Senate, not during; and at the Battle of Long Island, Randall has Washington commenting to Lord Stirling on the men's bravery, though Stirling had in fact been taken prisoner. There are enough good one-volume biographies of Washington?by Douglas Southall Freeman and John Ferling, to name two?that one need not recommend this one.?David B. Mattern, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

After a successful seventeen-year career as a feature writer for the Philadelphia Bulletin, magazine writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, investigative journalist for Philadelphia Magazine and stringer for Time-Life News Service, Willard Sterne Randall pursued advanced studies in history at Princeton University. Biographer of Benjamin and William Franklin, of Benedict Arnold, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Ethan Allen, he has co-authored collections of biographies and e-books with his wife, the biographer and award-winning poet, Nancy Nahra. As a journalist, Randall won the National Magazine Award for Public Service from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the Standard Gravure Award, the Hillman Prize, the Loeb Award and the John Hancock Prize. His Benedict Arnold biography received four national awards and was a New York Times Notable Book. Publishers Weekly chose his biography of Jefferson as one of the ten best biographies of 1993. He received the Award of Merit of the American Revolution Round Table. He taught American history at John Cabot University in Rome and at the University of Vermont and Champlain College, where he was a Distinguished Scholar in History and a Professor. He is a contributing editor to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History and American Heritage Magazine. He lives, writes, teaches, lectures and likes to swim in Burlington, Vermont.

Customer Reviews

This book is an interesting, easy read.
Randall Holland
Ultimately Mr. Randall's attempt is only satisfactory and it would certainly not be my first recommendation for a one volume history of George Washington.
G. Zilly
A very detailed book and well worth reading.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on April 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Among the good-to-great Presidents of the United States, there can be a lot of debate as to who is second-best, but number one on the list - both chronologically and in importance - is George Washington. Yes, he had his problems, including slave ownership and a spotty military success rate, but these are outweighed by his contributions.

In the early United States, there were few unifying figures. Most of the founders were associated with a certain region or political philosophy. Other than the elderly Benjamin Franklin, only Washington received the universal respect that was necessary to keep the fragile nation together. Another figure - John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton or someone else - would not have had the necessary following to keep the United States truly united. Aware of his role in history, Washington was a careful executive; he correctly recognized that his every action would set precedents.

Willard Sterne Randall's biography of Washington is a flawed piece of work. On the one hand, he has created a pleasantly readable book. On the other hand, his focus is almost exclusively on Washington's early years. The Revolution doesn't really begin until halfway into the book and the Presidency is covered in scarcely more than fifty pages. It seems almost as if Randall got bored writing after a certain point and started getting sketchier in the details.

Randall also needed a better editor or fact-checker. Little flaws can be found: in one place, he wrongly describes Hamilton as being the son of a British admiral; a few pages later, Hamilton is correctly described as the son of a Scottish merchant.

In the end, this is a passable biography, a weak three-star effort. Those (including myself) seeking a definitive biography of Washington, will need to look elsewhere. This book is not bad, but it doesn't rate that high.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Aguilar on November 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in hopes of learning more about the nation's first president. I have always found Washington to be a fascinating person but I never did know very many details about his personal life. In school we learn about the legend who overcame great odds and could do no wrong when leading this nation into freedom and independence. Willard Randall focuses on George Washington the man by providing you with an interesting insight into Washington's personal relationships, his shortcomings and his ambitions. The book also focuses on his early career as a soldier in the French and Indian War and as a member of General Braddock's ill-fated expedition. It does an excellent job of describing the environment and events which led Washington to make the decision to lead the Continental army against the British knowing that he would lose everything if he was not successful. There are probably other books on George Washington that are more detailed and thorough but if you want a general overview that is interesting and easy to read then this is the book that I highly recommend.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Randall Holland on April 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the title is misleading. This book does not cover in detail the life of George Washington. His presidency is glossed over. Those looking to read in depth about the days of Wahsington's presidency should probably look elsewhere. It's focus is mainly on the young Washington who was driven to be a British military officer and became the Patriot General determined to drive the British out of America. I felt Randall put a human touch on Washington, at times describing his emotions at key moments in his life, avoiding the "father of our country" caricature that our school history text books tend to show us. Several pages are devoted to his relationship with the woman that was probably the love of his life and his struggles with perhaps his greatest enemy, Benedict Arnold. Attention is given early in the book on Washington, the boy, and what shaped him to grow into the man he became. I disagree with the mediocre to negative reviews given to this book. I feel that it puts a human face on one of the greatest men this country has produced and focuses on, what to me, is the most interesting period of Washington's life. This book is an interesting, easy read. Randall is not a Pulitzer Prize winning author for nothing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Green on October 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Randall's early work in this biography is drawn primarily from Washington's own letters. Obviously no better source exists on Washington's thoughts than these, and in this regard Randall fairly interprets the writings without bias or misconstruction. Washington's early campaigns as an English-officer-wannabe and his early courtship of Martha Dandridge are poignantly human, but once the Revolution begins, Washington almost drops from the text. Only sparingly do we see Washington the man during these 8 years, but rather the results of Washington the military commander (something retold in countless histories and biographies). Once President, Randall tells us too little of Washington's influence on the unprecedented office of Chief Executive and its relationships with Congress and foreign powers, something vitally important to American History. Overall, the first half of this biography tells a clear picture from Washington's own thoughts and ideas, but fails to follow this precept in the second half. Throughout the book, Randall appends lengthy phrases between his subject and verb (sentence-ending verbs), much like the 18th-century correspondence he followed (a common practice then, but tiresome and objectionable in this book). On the whole, the work bogs down in its subject matter and its semantics, becomes tedious in the reading and arguably fails to deliver on "a life" so promised.
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