- Hardcover: 408 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0190456671
- ISBN-13: 978-0190456672
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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George Washington: A Life in Books 1st Edition
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"In this new work, Kevin J. Hayes shatters the myth of an ignorant, unread Washington and does something even more difficult: Hayes not only has tracked down new discoveries in one of the most studied American lives, but he reveals a much more human portrait of the great man than most biographies have been able to reveal. Hayes makes George Washington even more real, and more significant... Kevin J. Hayes's study will reward the reader with a newfound respect for our first president and imparts a renewed sense of the sustained curiosity of truly great leaders. It is a book even John Adams might have enjoyed." -- The Weekly Standard
"This is a highly enjoyable and informative book. For anyone interested in the primary documentation of the lives of the Founding Fathers or for anyone wishing to be an informed visitor to Mount Vernon, this is essential reading." -- Journal of the American Revolution
Winner of The 2018 George Washington Prize
About the Author
Kevin J. Hayes, Emeritus Professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, now lives and writes in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several books including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (Oxford, 2008) and A Journey through American Literature (Oxford, 2012). He is the recipient of the Virginia Library History Award presented by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Center for the Book. He is also the recipient of research fellowships from the Boston Athenaeum, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Lilly Library, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and the Virginia Historical Society.
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Working roughly in chronological order, Hayes takes us through the library at Mount Vernon. We start with Washington’s earliest books (collections of devotions by famous preachers), and move from there to travel guides, reference books, abolitionist tracts (though he regrettably never used his considerable political influence to address the injustice of slavery, in his personal dealings Washington was an abolitionist), popular fiction, and military books.
Hayes introduces us to a man born in the American colonies, and denied a “proper” English education. In order to compensate for an education he perceived as lacking, Washington would embark on a lifetime quest of self-improvement. He actively sought out books to deepen his understanding of the physical, spiritual, and literary worlds. His passion for books and for reading would remain undiminished throughout his life.
George Washington has deservedly been the subject of countless biographies. Approaching his life from the direction of his library is both refreshing and educational. While some of the conclusions the author draws based on the content of the Mount Vernon library shelves seems a bit reaching, on the whole this is a fascinating look at one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book gives us more reason to honor Washington. Aware of what he perceived as his inadequacies in formal education, Washington set about educating himself. This unique and engaging biography looks at Washington through the books he read and collected in his library at Mount Vernon. He recognized the value of "learning," focusing a bit more on practical books on agriculture and travel accounts than on fiction. (I was amused to read that Washington in his own gardens at Mount Vernon followed the advice given in an English gardening book not to plant in straight rows, but in curves. The head of our parish garden committee follows the same recommendation with very good results!)
As I read the book, I was convinced anew that reading is vital to the formation of a well-rounded person and is to be highly encouraged. Would that more of us and our leaders today would embrace reading for knowledge, pleasure and self-improvement.
This book was a Father's Day gift from my children (at my request). Thank you all!