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George Washington : Writings (Library of America) Hardcover – February 22, 1997
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Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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-- Richard B. Bernstein, Adjunct Professor of Law, New York Law School; Daniel M. Lyons Visiting Professor in American History, Brooklyn College/CUNY; Book Review Editor for Constitutional Books, H-LAW; and Senior Research Fellow, Council on Citizenship Education, Russell Sage College
This collection of Washington's writings is an indispensable aid in the process of understanding the man behind the legend. The editor, John Rhodehamel, has selected 446 key documents from Washington's life, including letters, addresses, and general orders issued to his men. Written in the strictly formal style of the Virginia planter seeking to maintain the dignity of his position in society, his prose often cloaks the anxiety he felt about his status, the revolutionary cause, and the survival of the new republic. Together they convey a distinctly human figure, one whose stature only grows with a better understanding of the difficulties he surmounted. This is the book for anyone seeking to supplement other works on Washington with the original sources, or for those who simply want to read about Washington's life in his own words.
Washington reveals himself as incredibly goal-oriented: not just one goal; all of them. The Rules for Living he copied and studied as a young man were his lifelong guide to behavior. Almost all of his writings show him as a most considerate person. When his goal required the physical courage and endurance of his first mission to the French, he was almost superhuman. When his goal required years of perseverance, he persevered.
He shows a sense of his own worth, but is nevertheless modest in describing his accomplishments.
Washington's letters come from a mind not only solid, but also brilliant. He was capable of making decisions: instantly if the situation demanded speed; or after deep and thoughtful examination. His letters display his command of a wide range of endeavors: from farming, to experimenting with soils, political commentary and participation, public works and their financing; even the right path for his young stepson to pursue.
When he was the colonel of the Virginia Regiment in the French-Indian War, a study of his writings shows that although his rank was colonel, he was responsible for every aspect of their military efforts -- except for political decisions. In other words, he functioned as a general. Not only a general, but the commanding general, answering only to the government. There, his writings show how he learned to build an army, officers and men who, under his leadership, became effective veterans.Read more ›
Whether Washington the man can be reclaimed from Washington the statue is a task left up to biographers and fiction writers, because after thumbing through this collection of his writings, it is with some certainty that the man from Mount Vernon can't do it himself.
Once gets the impression that Washington was a man who believed in duty, to himself as an eighteenth-century man of means, and to his country, whether it be England (for whom he participated on several expeditions against the French in Pennsylvania), or his newly created United States. The man who, in 1755, volunteered to join the British commander in chief, General Edward Braddock, on what became a disasterous expedition into western Pennsylvania, became by 1775 the man who would write to his wife announcing his appointment to head the rebel army, that, "I have used every endeavour in my power to avoid it [command]."
Even his ascention to the presidency was performed in very reluctant steps. In a letter to Henry Knox, he wrote, "I can assure you . . . that my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution."
So why serve? "It was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment without exposing my Character to such censures as would have reflected dishonour upon myself, and given pain to my friends," he wrote Martha Washington.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fabulous book which gives you a real in depth look at the man George Washington.Published 10 months ago by kirrentas
Seller was great. Needed this for a college course so it wasn't read for pleasure.Published 15 months ago by Sharee K. Sharp
A new book by Joseph Ellis, "The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783 -- 1789" prompted me to read more about George Washington (1732 -- 1799). Read morePublished 17 months ago by Robin Friedman
This is no reflection on the letters of Geo. Washington. I gave this two stars because the format of this book is atrocious. This is or looks to be a 'print on demand' book. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Joe Vega NYC
A great collection, albeit incomplete. This publication does not include every one of his writings. For that, you'll need to look elsewhere. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Matthew Nielsen