"Washington: A Life" by Ron Chernow

| 📖 # 21 |


Title: Washington: A Life
Author: Ron Chernow
Start Date: 3/26/16
End Date: 5/28/16
# of Pages: 904
Edition: Penguin Press hardcover (2010)

Favorite Quotes: (1) “‘More than most, Washington’s biography is the story of a man constructing himself’” (2) “Washington was always reluctant to sign on to any cause, because when he did so, his commitment was total.” (3) “Things seldom happened accidentally to George Washington, but he managed them with such consummate skill that they often seemed to happen accidentally. By 1775 he had such a fine sense of power – how to gain it, how to keep it, how to wield it.” (4) “The letter is also notable in showing us how incurably sentimental Washington was beneath the surface – he could experience an eruption of memories so overpowering that he had to flee the scene.” (5) [can’t pick from dozens of others!]

Why I Chose It: For a while now I’ve toyed with the idea of committing to reading at least one presidential biography a year. This is the start of that project. I think it’s true that the beliefs and actions of the president of any given period in America’s history can reveal quite a bit about that period, perhaps none more than Washington. 

Other Notes: Maybe the most unexpected fact I learned while reading this bio was how fastidiously he worked to shape how he would be publicly and historically perceived. The book is honest and objective, honoring a great man while recognizing his shortcomings and hypocrisies, though not at the expense of his rightfully earned heroic legacy.

BooksKarl Magnuson