The 14 Best Books on George Washington
Table of Contents
George Washington was one of the leading founding fathers of America. He was born on February 22, 1732, in West Virginia, the son of Mary Ball and Augustine Washington, as the third son of an average farmer. He became one of the most influential figures in American history. Whether in school or university, you have probably come across some work by this great name in history. In this article, we will cover 14 best books on George Washington that you need to read.
Before we present the significant works of George Washington, we will give a brief summary of his notorious life trajectory. As a teenager, Washington held a position as a land surveyor. After a few years, in 1952, he fought alongside the British forces in the French and Indian war, defending their colonies against the French. After the war was over, he pursued life as a farmer in Mount Vernon and married Martha Custis in 1759.
And also, in the year 1759 came his introduction into the world of politics. When he joined the Virginia House of Burgesses, he became the colonial government arm of the state. And after serving as the state’s representative in the first two Continental Congresses, he would become a key figure in US politics.
The Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775. Washington had been appointed as commander of the Western Army, resisting British rule. And in 1781, there was the surrender of the British. Washington played a crucial role in the peace that followed, and in 1783 with the ratification of the treaty in Paris.
Even to reform himself, Washington did not take long to return to the political world. In 1787 he was elected the President of the Constitutional Convention, lobbying for ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America. The following year, in 1788, the Constitution was ratified, and George Washington was the nation’s first president. Among his significant challenges was to promote the union among the states that constituted the country, adapting the creation of two political parties: Federalists and Republican Democrats.
In 1797, after the conclusion of his second term, Washington retired to Mount Vernon, as he had planned long ago in his life. There he lived out the last months of his life, passing away on December 14, 1799, at the age of 67.
1 - Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow is an excellent biographer. In this work, he magnificently portrays the nuances of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. The depth of approach taken by the author will be hard to find in any other biography of George Washington. Narrating rapidly, it will take the reader from his early years, with several heroic adventures and exploits, to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Also covered is his presidency at the Constitutional Convention and his incredible performance as America’s first president. Chernow’s work will be great if you want to learn more about our Founding Fathers.
2- You Never Forget Your First By Alexis Coe
In this book, Alexis Coe, with a funny and engaging look at the perfect search for a biography of George Washington, combines his searches for the right book with an insightful history of our nation’s first president. Throughout the book, he looks at how Washington has been portrayed in books. Both are imperfect men, the heroic.
In his conclusion, Coe cites that the best biography of George Washington is the one that resonates best with the reader. If you are looking for a lighter, more entertaining read or a thought-provoking look at our American history, “You Never Forget Your First” will be ideal for your readings.
3 - Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader by Robert Middlekauff
Renowned author Robert Middlekauff, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Bancroft Prize Winner, focus in this work on Washington’s early years. Revealing his fears, mystiques, passions, and values. Washington’s psychological and temperamental details, experiences, and quirks reveal his more human side and are only sometimes addressed.
Showing a self-aware Washington who grew up with a lot of confidence and experience as a young soldier, Virginia gentleman, and businessman. And who, in the course of his life, was transformed into a patriot by the revolutionary ferment between 1760 and 1770.
It is clear from this book that Washington was at the center of not only the outcome of the Revolution and its development but also the fruits it brought to the American nation. This is undoubtedly one of the accounts that portray Washington’s transformation, denoting his extraordinary leadership quality. Please get to know one of our country’s most important historical figures in this exceptional book.
4 - Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America's Founding Father By Peter Stark
Throughout this article, it will become clear that the number of existing biographies about George Washington is vast. However, in this book, Peter Stark offers a unique perspective on the life of America’s first president. Like most educated people, Washington wrote letters and kept a diary. And Stark uses these resources to demonstrate the early years that Washington lived through. From his upbringing in colonial Virginia City to enter a military career during the French and Indian war.
There are new insights into one of the nation’s founders, revealing the man who was not always the confident and decisive leader commonly portrayed in histories and textbooks. This is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding who George Washington, one of our nation’s most unique figures, was.
5 - The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789 by Edward Larson
After his heroic acts leading the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, Washington surprised the world with his retirement. George Washington, one of the most powerful men in the world, in the year 1783 resigned as commander and returned to his private life in the town of Mount Vernon.
However, while Washington became increasingly satisfied with his property, the interim government failed. According to the Articles of Confederation, the incumbent central government was weak and unable to collect taxes to pay its debts or to generate consensus on the national political scene.
The chances of a successful Constitutional Convention were minimal. Other Founding Fathers, such as Madison, Jefferson, and others, noted that only one man could unite the nation again: George Washington. Even with some reluctance, Washington knew he must do his duty. He rode to Philadelphia in 1787 and presided over the Convention.
This book was won by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward J. Larson. It will reveal Washington’s brilliant role in the formation of the Convention. And it denotes how Washington was the linchpin in uniting the states and ratifying the Constitution, being the nation’s first president, and saving the country.
6 - George Washington's Surprise Attack: A New Look at the Battle That Decided the Fate of America By Phillip Thomas Tucker
This book takes a fresh look at the battle that decided America’s fate, challenging the traditional view of the battle by arguing that it was Washington’s surprise attack that decided our nation’s fate.
In addition to this new perspective on the battle, the book contains eyewitness accounts and unpublished documents, which help to support the argument presented by the author. This is a book for you to learn more about one of the most critical moments in the history of the United States, the “Surprise Attack of George Washington” is a book worth reading.
7 - His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
Joseph brings precise analysis, with the exacting scholarship and lyrical prose that makes him one of the most renowned historians of the Revolutionary era. This remarkable biography focuses on a somewhat distant figure, namely the volcanic emotions of George Washington, who is most often portrayed as a man of “statue-like solidity.”
At work, we will meet the young officer who miraculously survived combat, and this convinced him that he could not be killed. And also the perspective of George, a landowner who held debts with English merchants who had a considerable resentment of the imperial power instilled in him. In this work, we will see the general who lost more battles than he won and the President who tried to rise above the partisan feuds of the time.
8 - 1776 By David McCullough
This is a book that will not only talk about George Washington. However, we must take the chance to read this work by McCullough, who wrote one of the most popular books about the American Revolution. In this work, you will find the story of Washington and the Continental Army.
You will only find many details in this book that portray the war as a vivid portrait of eighteenth-century America. The importance of independence is exalted in this work, which reveals a positive aspect. This will be a sure choice if you are looking for a book about fun and informative facts, where passages depict Washington’s life and much more.
9 - Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
The historical context is set in this book. Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was lost. The British force had defeated the Americans in New York. The occupation of the three colonies had already taken place, and they were aiming to advance on Philadelphia.
However, George Washington and several other Americans refused to let the Revolution end. And so, on Christmas Eve, he exercised leadership of his men across the river and attacked the Hessian garrison at Trenton, capturing or killing about a thousand men. And a second battle occurred at Trenton a few days later.
There was tremendous resistance by the Americans to a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis’ troops, who were nearly pinned down by British forces. In the dead of night, Washington’s men strategically hid behind the enemy, attacking them again. They defeated a brigade at Princeton. Faced with these facts, the British were shaken. With approximately twelve weeks of fighting during the winter, their army suffered many casualties, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was absolutely defeated.
This critical work on George Washington demonstrates how contingency played an essential role in these events. We observe how the campaign unfolded as a sequence of complicated choices by many people, as generals and civilians, on both sides of the forces.
10 - General George Washington: A Military Life By Edward G. Lengel
This biography by Edward G. Lengel is one of the best done and most researched by the first commander-in-chief, George Washington. Throughout this work, the author narrates Washington’s military career, providing information about his thought processes and motivations.
The results presented in this biography are impressive, with many nuances and details of a genuinely complex man. Washington’s military exploits are extolled by Lengel, as well as more personal things, such as his private life. Including his relationship with his family and wife. Learning more about Washington’s excellence is a goal of many admirers of this historical figure. Therefore this book should be added to reading lists for anyone with that goal.
11 - Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Flexner
This enigmatic biography written by James Flexner is in four volumes. Winning the Pulitzer Prize and another National Book Award for its fourth volume, which would later become an American classic.
The author portrays George Washington as an enslaver, a man of passion, a courageous leader, a fierce general, and a reluctant politician. There is no glorification of Washington in this work, no vilification or consecrations. Flexner makes a counterpoint between Washington’s private and public life, providing a challenging insight regarding the man who became a symbol of a nation.
12 - Washington's Circle By David S. Heidler and Janne T Heidler
This book explores the relationship between George Washington and his inner circle. There is an active investigation of these relationships and how they impacted Washington’s decisions. At the same time, he was President of the United States. Specifically, the book examines Alexander Hamilton’s role in shaping Washington’s presidency.
The authors, David and Janne, have extensively researched this work. They provide information about the featured characters: Hamilton and Washington. This is undoubtedly an ideal read for anyone passionate about American history.
13 - An Imperfect God by Henry Wiencek
In George Washington’s will, he surprised everyone with his decision to free his slaves. Before that, he had stated that keeping his slaves was his “only unavoidable subject of regret.” In this unique work, Wiencek analyzes Washington’s involvement with slavery at every stage of his life. From his time as a planter, soldier, statesman, politician, and President.
Henry Wiencek portrays that Washington was born and raised among half-breeds and blacks. His wife’s blood ties were directly linked to the slave community. However, as a young man, Washington bought and sold enslaved people, even children, to collect debts, a fact ignored by most biographers. On the battlefields, whites and blacks were part of his troops, and from then on, Washington began to change. Wiencek reports that even before Washington became President, he began to see the evil of the slavery system.
Henry Wiencek’s accurate and revealing biography features court records, private papers, and voluminous Washington archives. Recording the moral change culminated in George Washington’s determination to emancipate the enslaved people. Revealing genuine repentance.
As the father of our country, George Washington was not belittled or diminished in this portrait full of variables. In this work, we see Washington, in his entirety, as an evolved man who thought ahead of his time.
14 - Travel's With George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy By Nathaniel Philbrick
We will indicate a different book to finish this list of books about George Washington. In this work, Philbrick travels around the country, reporting on the places associated with Washington. From his home in Virginia, Mount Vernon, Georgia, the Carolinas, and many other areas.
Philbrick interviews many historians and experts on George Washington, sharing their insights in this work. And throughout the book, the author comments on the legacy of George Washington, a unique and all-important figure in the history of the United States of America.
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