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Inventing George Washington: America's Founder, in Myth and Memory Hardcover – January 18, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Here he delivers an entertaining & oft-times fun book about the history, myths and legends of America's Founding Father. Inventing George Washington, is considered a counterpart to the authors larger work- General George Washington: A Military Life.
The book should not be considered a stand-alone biography or history of Geo. Washington. What it covers is the myths, legends and stories that sprung up in the footsteps ("George Washington Slept here!"- "I can not tell a lie, I chopped the cherry tree") of the Father of our Country.
It's a fun, and sometimes light hearted tale- but the book is still scholarly, extensively footnoted, sourced and researched.
I wish that in covering and debunking some of the myths, the author had then explained more of what the Real Truth was behind the myths, but apparently that is covered in his Magnum Opus.
I really enjoyed the section where the author is hired as a technical source for a documentary short about the first President, and his troubles with the film producers as opposed to that of the rather fanatical re-enactors hired on to portray soldiers in the film.
Overall a Good Read.
In any case, a book about Washington mythology promises to be fascinating, and this book doesn't disappoint. It's not a biography of Washington (the author has already written one of those), but a highly entertaining account of how he has been perceived and how stories about him came into being and grew (the silver dollar thrown across the Potomac started as a rock across the Rappahannock!) The author is head of the Washington Papers project, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of what's true and what's bogus in quotes and stories about the Father of His Country: the book not only expertly separates fact from fiction, but (more important) also explains what it was about various periods of the country's history that made certain stories gain credibility or lose it. An expecially interesting chapter discusses the era of the debunkers (roughly 1920-40) which culminated in Grant Wood's famous painting that you can see on the book's cover. By the time the debunkers finished with him, Washington ended up as wooden as his supposed false teeth, and it's taken another half century for him to take on life again (along with a bunch of new myths).
As the author documents, many of the bogus quotes and stories are still circulated and apparently believed, generally by people with various agendas.Read more ›
Mr. Lengel explains that mythmaking has served to reconcile the tension between Washington's closely-guarded private life and his meticulously cultivated public image. Mr. Lengel recounts how successful writers such as Parson Weems, George Lippard, Caroline Matilda Kirkland, James Thomas Flexner, William Woodward and Caroline Ellis catered to public expectations by producing both praiseworthy and debunking stories about Washington's many perceived or invented personas; from the astute statesman to the fearless warrior, romantic lady's man, pious servant of God, and so on. Within the discussion, Mr. Lengel samples short snippets from some of these texts to reveal fascinating and frequently humorous insights into the authors and their audiences from the 1700s to the present day, if not about Washington himself.
To his credit, Mr. Lengel takes aim at some of the most persistent Washington myths that continue to haunt us in the present day. Unfortunately, a number of televangelists and politicians have used the media to spread bogus Christian-propagandist Washington legends and quotes far and wide. Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It has been a few years since I read this book on my kindle but I will love to add to the many great reviews that this book recieved because it deserves it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
People will get much information about human foibles, what we know about George Washington, and what is not true. Read morePublished on January 31, 2014 by Israel Drazin
I learned a lot about GW, but this is a very dry book.
The author should have hired a ghost writer to add some excitement to it. Read more
I first read about Edward Lengel's "Inventing George Washington" in the alumni magazine from the University of Virginia in that little section that no one ever reads about new... Read morePublished on December 30, 2012 by J. Hauer
I zoomed through this in one evening. It is that rare history book that is written with warmth and wit. Read morePublished on April 17, 2012 by Amazon Customer
George Washington was bigger than life when he was alive. He fought in the French and Indian War and was rallied again to be the General in chief of the American Revolution. Read morePublished on March 16, 2012 by Lynn Ellingwood
On the Sixth Day, God created man, but who created George Washington? As author Edward Lengel tells us, there are as many inventors, not creators, as there are George Washingtons,... Read morePublished on March 14, 2012 by James Gallen
Lets put it this way, this book written by a major Washington expert and scholar, as he did help to edit the entire collection of Washingtons' papers has written a little ditty of... Read morePublished on February 25, 2012 by Richard Dicanio