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Comment: This book is the paperback edition. The text is unmarked. The binding is sound. The cover is moderately worn around the edges some creasing and surface scratching. Several pages are creased at the corners. The page edges are toned.
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Washington: The Indispensable Man Paperback – February 22, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Back Bay Book
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Back Bay Books edition (February 22, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316286168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316286169
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The book is Flexner's single volume abridgement of his four-volume biography.
Tom M.
Whether a high school/college student, history buff, biography fan, you will enjoy reading this condensed biography of our first president.
Michael Taylor
What Flexner helps us to see is that Washington *became* a great man through a combination of character, luck, and hard work.
Eric Messelt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

211 of 212 people found the following review helpful By Douglas McIntyre on January 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I only write reviews of the books I feel very strongly about. James Thomas Flexner is, along with Douglas Freeman, considered to be the preiminant Washington scholar. He also happens to be a world class writer. For those of you who do not have the time, or interest, in reading Flexner's monumental 4 volume biography of Washingon, you could not find a better single volume on the life of the most important man in American history. Most great men turn out to be less great the closer you examine their accomplishments. Washington is one of the few whose legend doesn't go far enough. Read Flexner's book and see why George Washington was an icon in his own lifetime... Adored by the great men of his age, beloved by the people, and a moral example who is as relevant to the American experience today as he was two hundred plus years ago. This is a great work of history and a great read. If I had the power, I would make this book required reading for every American citizen.
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105 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Douglas McIntyre on February 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Flexner is considered, along with Douglas Freeman, to be the great Washington scholar. His four volume biography is a masterpiece of scholarship and historical writing. However, most readers will not have the time to plow through such a large work. Fortunately, Flexner wrote this fantastic book. He has managed to condense the essence of Washington's remarkable life into this single volume. It is every bit as informed and well written as the larger work, and for the curious, by far the best single volume biography of G.W. Every American should read this book. It's impossible to study GW as presented by Flexner and not be impressed. There is a reason why men such as Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, et al deferred to Washington. In these pages you will learn why.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Several years ago, I spent Thanksgiving with the parents of a friend of mine and started reading this book based on their reccomendation. Well, this book so inspired me, I've continued with biographies of most of our Founding Fathers(including Flexner's "Young Hamilton") as well as the other Presidents and into the Civil War. James Thomas Flexner brings to life a man whom I only knew as the first President, the guy on the dollar bill, and yes, the one who chopped down the cherry tree. My perspective on American history and the man responsible for such a great piece of our history was completely changed by this book. It reads like a novel, though I admit was a bit rough getting started. Once in, however, I was hooked. This biography takes you through Washington's early years as a child, his courtship struggles and life as a surveyor: then, we travel with our hero through the Revolutionary War, the precarious aftermath and his tenure as the first President of the newly founded nation. Flexner shows us that much of this was, for Washington, a struggle indeed, and he seems very much the reluctant hero, whose journey is destined for greatness in spite of himself and the enormous odds against him. It is an epic journey masterfully navigated by Flexner. This biography is worthy of it's subject. If you are an American, read it.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen VINE VOICE on August 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Washington: The Indispensable Man" introduces the reader to the personality and career of the Father of Our Country. To many Americans, Washington is largely an unknown quantity, an immovable face on the one dollar bill, known as a Revolutionary War General and First President, but not as a human being. This book shows Washington, hero and failure, surveyor and farmer, soldier and statesman, body and soul.
Son of a minor aristocrat, Washington, unaware that his social standing precluded his advancement beyond the colonial militia, sought positions in the British Navy and Army. A Virginia militiaman, he stumbled into the world's consciousness in 1753 in a minor skirmish with a French party in the area that is now Pittsburgh. In a rematch the next year, the question arose as to whether Washington had fought a French military force or murdered an ambassador. Washington was chastised in battle with the French in 1754, but not before he had created a stir in the chanceries of Europe. Accompanying Gen. Braddock into the wilderness in 1754-5, Washington's failure to convince Braddock that the French-Canadians did not fight like the Continental French had fatal consequences for Braddock. Succeeding to command, Washington extricated the army, thereby becoming the hero of a tragic engagement. This made Washington a military hero in colonial eyes.
Having returned to Virginia, we see Washington, the colonial businessman, managing his plantation. The author gives us an insight into the business of a Virginia planter of Washington's day, a business which involved speculation in western lands as well as the production of tidewater crops.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Heinen on May 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is the best one-volume biography of Washington I have found. As the title hints, Flexner takes the approach that Washington was an indispensible figure in the period leading up to and through the Revolutionary War, as well as the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and the formation of the first truly republican government. He makes a pretty good argument! This book gave me a much better appreciation of how remarkable Washington was to willingly and conscientiously refuse to assume the autocratic powers that were surely his for the taking, thus setting the precedent for the remarkably peaceful and unopposed transfer of leadership that is the hallmark of the US government to this day (recent presidential elections notwithstanding). If you really want to plumb the depths of Washington's life and career, read the entire multivolume biography by Flexner (from which this book was condensed). If you want a single-volume biography of the "Father of His Country" (who, ironically, was sterile as a matter of fact), you will not be disappointed with this volume--although I would not put it in the David McCullough class of presidential biographies (which is a small class indeed).
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