Lauren H: George Washington

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, by John Ferling

It was clear from the beginning that Ferling was taking a different approach to his biography on George Washington than most other historians. He wanted to knock Washington off the pedestal Americans have placed him upon and attempt to humanize a man that has been made into a hero and idol in the eyes of most Americans. I understand that mindset, but there was a lot of negativity in his writing and at times, to me, it took away the objectivity in this biography. Sometimes it was as if we weren’t getting the entire picture, only pieces of the events taking place to prove a point. I don’t know if that is completely true or not, but that is what I took away from a majority of this biography.

I was disappointed at how little there was about Washington’s personal life. I know that this biography focused on the ascent of his political career, but I really enjoyed the parts about George Washington’s family and his home and really wish there would have been more of that.

All of that is not to say that there wasn’t a lot of information in this biography, because there was. I really feel like I learned a lot and that there was so much I didn’t know. Ferling clearly has a wealth of knowledge and information on Washington’s military beginnings and the lead up to and through the Revolutionary War. This biography also served as a great introduction to other founding fathers, like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. I was surprised at how interested I was in the dynamics of the founding fathers and really enjoyed seeing how they interacted as well as the different sides they supported politically.

Overall, this book was ok. There were parts I really enjoyed, parts I didn’t know if I would make it through, and a lot of negativity throughout that left me shaking my head and occasionally rolling my eyes. I do see myself picking up another biography on George Washington in the future to so I can get a more balanced picture of his life.

Original Review


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