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The Life of Washington (The John Harvard Library) Paperback – January 31, 1962

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Paperback, January 31, 1962
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Product Details

  • Series: The John Harvard Library (Book 16)
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; Pencil Margin Notes/underlining edition (January 31, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674532511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674532519
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #600,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Marcus Cunliffe "has provided the first scholarly editing of Parson Weem's work. He introduces the high-spirited old scamp with more sympathy than he has received in many a year, gives a short account of Weems' own life drawn from the attenuated facts available, an evaluation of the reliability of the biography, and delivers a kindly judgment: 'Weems supplied distinct needs for the American imagination. (New York Herald Tribune)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. T. Kleven on August 11, 2013
This is a fascinating book. It is a hagiography of George Washington, the story of his life written to glorify him to heroic status, in an attempt to unify the country at a time when it was splitting into divergent factions in the early 19th century. I was led to read this book after reading The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, Revolution (American Political Thought). Many Christians in America today try to claim that America was founded as a Christian Nation, that our founders were Christians, and hold up George Washington as a prime example. The problem? Most of their evidence is based on stories found in Weem's mythical telling of Washington's life. I wanted to read it for myself.

It is a fascinating read! The loose framework of Washington's life is fact, but the details are where Washington is gloriously painted as a saint come down from heaven. This book is the source of the "Cherry Tree" myth. It's the source of the "Valley Forge Prayer" myth. It records grand speeches from the mouth of Washington that never happened. According to Weems, when Washington died, his body was lifted up to heaven on the wings of angels. The entire book is filled with such hyperbole, that at times it's hard to take it seriously at all. When you keep in mind that he had a bigger purpose for trying to portray Washington as a glorious hero, it makes the book more enjoyable, ala other American folk tales and myths.

Weems wrote this "biography" of Washington to inspire the nation to great ideals of virtue, character, and national unity. He is quite effective, if long-winded at times. I found myself desiring to be a virtuous young man "just like George Washington." An interesting book, and a key book to understand the myth of Washington and why he is viewed as he is, especially among Patriotic Christians today.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PHILIP SCHNEIDER on November 29, 2010
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This book is more about Mr. Weems and his odyssey trying to get the book published and people to pay for it.
The actual information about George Washington is reported in a sensible manner but lacks any personality. I just don't think there's that much recorded information available in real records that was accessed by Weems.
I feel I need to know more about Washington after reading Weem's book.
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