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Washington's Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations Hardcover – January 10, 2017
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“It’s hard to tell which is more nearly perfect—John Avlon’s argument or his timing. In the wake of a dispiriting campaign, Avlon finds in Washington’s Farewell Address a stunningly topical antidote to excessive partisanship and greedy self-interest. His book is a stake through the heart of political extremism” (Richard Norton Smith, author of On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller)
“George Washington’s long, formal farewell address once held enormous power among Americans, and John Avlon summons and contextualizes that relevance in this captivating book. At once a biography of George Washington at his zenith, and a chronicle of a new nation still crafting its traditions, this book makes a powerful case that the first president’s last public message deserves again to hold iconic status in the pantheon of our greatest founding documents.” (Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln and the Power of the Press, winner of the Lincoln Prize)
“Washington’s Farewell is a brilliant look into one of the seminal documents in American history. Avlon, a gifted writer and researcher, offers an enlightened view of the real George Washington: sage operator, partisan politico, shrewd judge of talent, and indomitable leader. As a plus, he tracks the great influence the Farewell Address has had on the foreign policy thinking of every generation since its delivery in 1796. A fantastic contribution to our national literature.” (Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America)
“Washington’s Farewell sweeps us into a timeless and humanizing story. Shining a revelatory spotlight on a long forgotten document, more than 220 years old, Avlon melds gloriously raw insight with the Farewell Address, revealing prophetic wisdom into contemporary American politics and the evolving Great American Experiment.” (Mark Santangelo, Chief Librarian and Archivist, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington)
“In this lucidly rendered and insightful portrait of George Washington, John Avlon deconstructs the great man’s famous Farewell Address, one of the most influential documents of our political heritage, and employs the component parts as entry points into an illuminating exploration of the first president’s character and legacy. Thus does Avlon give us the real-life Washington and a compelling narrative of his time.” (Robert W. Merry, author of Where They Stand and A Country of Vast Designs: President James K. Polk)
“A vivid portrait of the struggles that marked the nation's early years. . . . Avlon engagingly traces the afterlife of the address, showing how subsequent presidents cherry-picked ideas consistent with their own political views. He argues persuasively that the document deserves the serious reading that he offers. . . . A thoughtful consideration of Washington's wisdom that couldn't be timelier.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Avlon brings to light Washington’s goodbye by elucidating what it meant not only during the early days of the republic, but its lasting effect through the centuries. . . . . Avlon expertly explores the document by examining Washington’s shortcomings . . . A solid analysis of our first president and his farewell to the American people.” (Library Journal, starred review)
“Absorbing . . . Avlon’s book could hardly have come at a more opportune time. . . . Avlon compellingly argues that the Farewell Address is not a document only for presidents but rather for all Americans to read and know.” (The East Hampton Star)
“Avlon’s timely book makes a strong case for bringing Washington’s final public message back into the national consciousness as a way of strengthening the frayed political fabric of the aging republic. . . . Avlon hopes that a rediscovery of such wisdom might strengthen the union to which Washington dedicated his life; many readers of this powerful and well-argued book will hope the author is right.” (Foreign Affairs)
About the Author
John Avlon is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast and a CNN political analyst. He is the author of Independent Nation and Wingnuts as well as an editor of the anthology Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns. He was chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ award for Best Online Column in 2012. He lives with his wife Margaret Hoover and their two children in New York City.
Top customer reviews
It’s entirely understandable that Washington felt compelled to write his Farewell. The 1790’s were turbulent times. The US Constitution was constructed because the various states were in disarray. But even after the first government was formed, there were bitter divides over newly formulated policies. In addition, the French revolution was highly controversial. Washington knew that the American experiment was a fragile undertaking. His Farewell was in fact a warning that hyper-partisanship and ill-advised entanglements with foreign powers could be the undoing of the United States.
The author examines other periods in our history: the Civil War, WWI, & WWII in terms of adherence to the Farewell. Of course, all of those times played out in their own way with the Farewell not being a consideration. It’s not that the Farewell is totally irrelevant, but the world is a drastically different place.
It is interesting to see how much Washington struggled with his address. He did have substantial help, primarily from Alexander Hamilton. Washington really had an on-again-off-again relationship with the public. He was ultra concerned with his reputation, but insisted on being low key. His Farewell was published in only one Philadelphia newspaper and then only after he had departed for Mt. Vernon. The Farewell does enhance his reputation.
An important read for anyone concerned about our nation's political direction; the author's background and research make it even more forceful.