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George Washington's America: A Biography Through His Maps Hardcover – November 9, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0802717481 ISBN-10: 0802717489 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802717489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717481
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* From the dispersal of George Washington’s papers after his death, an intriguing item survived that today reposes in Yale University’s library. It’s a collection of 40 or so maps that Washington collected or personally drew and bound into an atlas. Historian Schecter (The Battle for New York, 2002) capitalizes on it to trace both Washington’s travels through colonial, revolutionary, and early republican America, and military and political events that Washington followed through cartographic study. Arranged by Washington’s biographical arc, starting with his expeditions of the French and Indian War and ending with his will’s disposition of his land and slaves, reproductions of each whole map accompany magnifications of the particular areas where Washington journeyed in person or in mind. Due to map references embedded in the text, the narrative oscillates between image and word, inducing avid readers to flip pages back and forth to follow the action. Augmented by portraits of Washington and his contemporaries and scenes of places and episodes of the times, Schecter’s conception of converting Washington’s atlas into a full-scale illustrated biography results in smashing success. Conveying how Washington visualized North America from the minute to the continental scale, it will fascinate history buffs now and should be durably library-useful. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

Crunching historical time into familiar space, Schecter uses New York as a 'fixed point, a compass for orienting oneself amid the many disparate theaters and battles of the long, complex war.' Marching us through battle where today we bank and shop, learn and live, reinforces the lessons that our freedoms had to be earned, and were not guaranteed. New York Times Book Review on The Battle for New York Barnet Schecter tells the extraordinary story of how Central Park and Fifth Avenue were battlefields in the struggle for American independence. John Keegan on Thr Battle for New York Schecter's riveting narrative places the violence, dramatized by Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York, in a national context, as a microcosm of forces that deferred integration for a century. USA Today on The Devil's Own Work

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Customer Reviews

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Such A Great Coffee Table Book.
Tamara
I recommend reading, looking and just enjoying this book without reservation.
Martin W. Sharp
George Washington's America is really remarkable.
Richard Borkow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
George Washington is one of those figures whose importance assures that his place in history will constantly be appreciated and reanalyzed, and that new biographies, even though all the original source documents have been well ploughed through, will always be forthcoming. Getting a new slant on him might be difficult, but historian Barnet Schecter has found one: let's examine Washington's maps. In _George Washington's America: A Biography Through His Maps_ (Walker & Company), Schecter has looked through an atlas of Washington's individual maps, as well as maps Washington made himself or were kept in other locations. There are reproductions of many of the maps here, and details from them, to illustrate what is mostly but not entirely a military biography. Maps were not just part of Washington's soldiering, but were important to his surveying, farming, presidency, and aspirations for the nation, and while Schecter's book is not a full biography, it combines the maps with stories about them and how they were used along with other biographical details to give a useful and practical view of an American saint.

Washington had over ninety maps and atlases at Mount Vernon, many of which he had used over the years. Since Washington's life, Schecter writes, "was from his early years until his death intimately bound up with the land, the maps tell a great deal about the man and his times." There are many elaborate maps, but one of the most charming is one far simpler. It shows a compass rose in which is an irregular quadrilateral, labeled with latitude and longitude. It bears the heading, handwritten, "A Plan of Major Lawr. Washington's Turnip Field as Surveyed by me, This 27 Day of February 1747. GW." (Lawrence Washington was George's half brother.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martin W. Sharp on December 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We have presented in the book a new view of America through the eyes of George Washington. The vision from this set of eyes allows us to see the land that he traveled as well as the land that helped him build dreams and a new nation. These clear lens allow us to see no western border for many of the first 13 states, a promise of nation building for the future. Many of us who live in the east can still travel on roads, rivers, and streams that are on the maps drawn by Washington. The book provides a fresh look at things that we often take for granted.I recommend reading, looking and just enjoying this book without reservation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Borkow on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a book of great worth, which opens a unique vantage point on George Washington's life story. It is perhaps surprising that the biography of any president of the United States could be revealed so profoundly through a study of his map collection. Yet that is exactly what Barnet Schecter does for our first president in this strikingly beautiful volume.
George Washington's America is really remarkable. It is an in-depth biography, and at the same time a treasure trove of 18th century maps. Some show huge expanses of the eastern portions of North America, and others are much more local, showing 18th century Boston, for example, and New York, the Potomac region and Savannah. Many provide a remarkable amount of detail and offer the researcher a whole set of valuable tools.
I was interested in looking at the site of future Washington D.C. on Joshua Fry's and Peter Jefferson's Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia (early versions from the 1750's). The D.C. site is easy to find because Alexandria is clearly seen across the river. On the northern shore I expected to find Georgetown, but didn't. However, Rock Creek, Magee's Ferry and Watson are all depicted. Why Watson and not Georgetown? The latter settlement must have been too tiny to warrant notice.
The information about lower Manhattan's topography is fascinating. The terrain of 1776 must have been similar to the terrain of 2011. Yet how many present-day Manhattanites know about Lispenard Hill, Bayard Hill and Jones Hill, which seem to be located in a swath that roughly corresponds to Delancey St and Broome St? In 1776 these three hills provided a natural defense for the city of New York, then limited to the very tip of Manhattan, and Schecter points out that they were fortified by Washington in 1776 with redoubts and trenches to form a defensive line right across the island. For the history lover, this book is a endless source of fascination. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this for a gift for my dad and he hasn't put it down. He has been impressed with the content and the high quality!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It has large copies of maps GW owned and great enlargements of many that often show detail such as names of homeowners and taverns, mills and other landmarks. I have used photocopies of maps in this to trace some of my own families' migrations. It was particularly helpful in solving a Virginia mystery, but the maps cover the whole of what Washington owned. (Remember he started out as a Surveyor.)

The degree of detail is really astounding.
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